Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mitt Romney Wins Washington

Mitt Romney won the Washington Caucus on Saturday. It's the fourth straight win for Romney, who won Maine, Arizona, and Michigan in recent days. Romney's margin of victory was rather large--11 points as of this writing--despite the fact that he did not campaign there. Ron Paul was the only candidate to commit resources to the state, and he roughly tied Rick Santorum for second place. As we wrote in yesterday's preview post, there was little polling in Washington, and it certainly didn't predict a Romney win of such size.

Washington Caucus (77% reporting)
Romney -- 36%
Paul -- 25%
Santorum -- 24%
Gingrich -- 11%

Given the fact that Washington is naturally a pro-Romney state, is there any significance to this win, other than contributing to the narrative of Romney's recovery and/or winning streak? Yes. Recall that both Colorado and Maine were also pro-Romney states. Romney didn't perform nearly as well in those February caucuses: Romney only won Maine by 3 points over Paul, and he lost Colorado by 5 to Santorum. Tonight in Washington, Romney blew his competition out of the water.

It's also significant that Romney was able to do so without committing resources there (i.e. airing anti-Santorum ads). It's possible that this result indicates Santorum's support is falling away more rapidly now. Compared to Santorum's performance in Colorado back in February, there's been a roughly 15-point swing in Romney's favor. Voters across the nation are more familiar with Santorum's weaknesses, and watching the Democrats attempt to give Santorum the win in Michigan created an incentive for Republicans to close ranks around Romney.

Nevertheless, the real test will come on Super Tuesday, March 6th. States in all different regions of the country will be voting, and the true extent of Santorum's strength will be made clear.