Mitt Romney enjoyed a big day on Saturday. First he won the straw poll at CPAC – something that no one believed was possible. Then, later Saturday, he won the Maine caucus, edging out Ron Paul, whom everyone thought was going to win the Maine caucus. Paul even skipped CPAC to spend time in Maine, and yet lost both.
This puts Romney at more than 100 delegates and Ron Paul with fewer than 20. Gingrich is under 30 delegates and Santorum has just more than 70.
This makes Arizona and Michigan important contests at the end of the month. Santorum has predicted he will win Michigan, and he might. But if he doesn’t, Romney will be riding momentum into Super Tuesday with a sure win in Arizona.
One thing is for sure, Gingrich is done. CPAC is not the establishment crowd – as evidenced by Ron Paul’s straw poll wins in 2010 and 2011 – but the self-proclaimed anti-establishment candidate, Newt Gingrich, only garnered 15% of the vote, for a distant 3rd place finish.
The CPAC straw poll results are very interesting. Romney winning CPAC challenges the narrative that Mitt Romney can’t get the support of the most conservative elements of the GOP. CPAC is the most conservative of the base GOP, and handing Romney a solid straw poll victory will give Romney additional momentum.
While this primary contest seems to be dragging on forever, remember, it’s only Feb. 11. Obama didn’t secure the nomination from Hillary Clinton until June of 2008. There is still plenty of time for the GOP to resolve the contest and then focus on beating Obama.