Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mitt Romney Wins Landslide in Puerto Rico

Mitt Romney sailed to victory in Puerto Rico, the final island caucus. As with other U.S. territories, Puerto Rico has a number of delegates--despite the fact that it cannot cast electoral college votes in presidential elections. Unlike the other territories, Puerto Rico has a big enough population to give it as many delegates as a medium-sized state. The delegates (or the possibility of a quasi-vacation) drew Rick Santorum to campaign in person in Puerto Rico, despite long odds against winning there. Romney's establishment support made him the early favorite, and Santorum's campaigning did nothing to put a dent in Romney's support. Though only about a third of the vote has been reported, Romney appears to have obliterated Santorum:

Puerto Rico Caucus (38% reporting)
Romney -- 88%
Santorum -- 8%
Gingrich -- 2%
Paul -- 1%

Santorum may have been attempting to keep Romney below the winner-take-all threshold of 50%. From the reported numbers, Santorum had no luck. Puerto Rico's result highlights one of Santorum's biggest problems over the last several weeks: While Romney has broken into the Midwest at various times, and has even taken advantage of the Santorum-Gingrich split to narrow the margins in the South occasionally, Santorum has been unable to return the favor. Instead, Santorum has been losing on Romney's turf by oversized margins that have a real impact on the delegate count.

Santorum would have been advised to spend his time in Illinois instead. Its primary will be held this Tuesday, and is an important contest because it represents another opportunity for Romney to pick off a Midwestern state. Aside from Louisiana, Illinois will also be the last contest to be held prior to the pro-Romney calendar of winner-take-all states in April.