Why Missouri Matters

Rick Santorum has won more statewide contests than Mitt Romney.

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Last night's primary in Missouri was technically worthless. Regardless of who won in Missouri, the state won't be awarding delegates until its March 17 caucuses. The state's GOP decided to hold a non-binding, mostly ceremonial primary last night because of some confusing party rules about Super Tuesday. Still, Missouri's meaningless primary actually makes a world of a difference for its winner, Rick Santorum.

Clean sweep

Santorum's success spanned three different states last night, and news of his "clean sweep" is making headlines all over the country this morning. While his wins in Minnesota and Colorado are technically more significant because they give him a shot at some crucial delegates at the RNC, the idea that he won three nominating contests in one nighta significant logistical challenge in itselfis a huge psychological boost for a campaign that was supposed to be dead weeks ago.

[See pictures of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

Midwest

Rick Santorum is now 3-0 in midwestern states with wins in Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri. That makes Mitt Romney 0-3 in the Midwest. Last night, voters in Minnesota and Missouri proved once again what everyone has been sayingthat Mitt Romney isn't connecting with the base of the Republican Party, and that seriously conservative voters will continue to seek an alternative to the former governor of Massachusetts. It also proved that Santorum is popular in swing states.

Timing

John Brabender, Santorum's top stategist, said last week that just looking at Santorum's campaign schedule would send the other candidates "into cardiac arrest." Santorum is an unflagging campaignerlast weekend alone, from Friday morning to Monday afternoon, he made 15 different campaign stops across Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota.

Save Maine, which finishes its weeklong caucuses this weekend, the next nominating contests (primaries in Arizona and Michigan) aren't for three weeks. There isn't even a debate scheduled for another 14 days, which is almost as shocking in itself as Santorum's Tuesday trifecta. That gives Rick Santorum and his sweater vest three weeks to traverse the country, explaining why he's won more statewide contests than Mitt Romney.

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