US & Canada

Media view: The Santorum sweep

Rick Santorum at a primary night rally at the St Charles Convention Center in St Charles, Missouri 7 February 2012
Image caption Rick Santorum has now won more state contests than Mitt Romney, who leads in delegates

Former Senator Rick Santorum swept back in to the Republican presidential race on Tuesday, winning two caucuses and one non-binding primary.

Supporters in Missouri heard Mr Santorum declare victory for all those "building the conservative movement".

But how did analysts in the media see the Santorum sweep?

'Drawn out battle'

In the New York Times, polling analyst Nate Silver says that after Tuesday evening, the campaign appears to be moving towards a drawn-out battle.

"These are not the hallmarks of a race with a dominant candidate," he writes, adding that 2012 bears more resemblance to the 1984 Democratic or 1976 Republican races.

"There was a favorite in each of those contests - Walter Mondale in 1984 and Gerald Ford in 1976 - but both contests progressed through all 50 states and were not that far from going to the convention. A few more mis-steps for Mr Mondale or Mr Ford, and the outcome might have been different."

Romney should be worried

John Fund at the National Review says Mitt Romney fails to understand that he is running for two jobs - president, and standard-bearer for the conservative movement.

"He is doing quite well in the race to become the Republican nominee for president, and must still be considered the strong favorite."

"Romney would help himself and his party if he realized that he will have a much higher chance of winning the general election if he reaches out to conservatives and convinces them to be enthusiastic.

"It's one thing to win the vote of every anti-Obama voter in the country, but on his current trajectory Romney will fail to convince many of them to make that extra effort to get their friends and neighbors to the polls."

Money working against Romney?

"Money ain't everything", the Washington Post's Ezra Klein argues in his morning round-up.

"Mitt Romney has lots of money. Between the resources of the Romney campaign and the Romney-allied superPACs, Santorum isn't even competitive."

"All else being equal, it's better to have lots of money than not enough money. But in politics, all else is rarely equal."

"It's clear, for instance, that there are a large number of Republican voters who just don't really want to vote for Romney. Indeed, his money might even be proving a little counterproductive. It's so well known that he's backed by massive superPACs, and it's so widely reported that the superPACs are going aggressively negative, that it's led to some bad media coverage for the Romney campaign."

What was actually won?

"Pity the poor news junkie, waiting bleary-eyed at the witching hour, wondering how to feel about the latest events in the Republican nominating contest," writes Ron Elving of NPR.

Elving argues that while it was a big night for Rick Santorum, there should be some level-headedness on what he actually won, especially with a low turnout in the caucus states. In Colorado, less than 2% of the overall voting population participated in Tuesday's night caucuses.

"That's not much of a plebiscite. And it could be a poor indicator of the sentiment of most Republicans and independents.

"What it measures instead is the ardor of that fraction of the GOP vote that is willing to turn out for a nighttime caucus where no delegates are actually being decided."

Santorum makes meaning out of Missouri

Was Missouri's primary meaningless? The state's delegates will actually be awarded via a caucus on 17 March, so Tuesday's contest was billed as a "beauty contest".

But Santorum saw an important opportunity, writes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post. "In fact, he saw it as a great way to make a point."

"By winning in Missouri, Santorum proved three things: 1) That Romney can lose 2) That he can beat Romney head-to-head under the right set of circumstances 3) That this race isn't yet over"

"On Wednesday morning, there will be a bigger sliver of doubt about that coronation than there was on Tuesday morning. And Santorum, rather than Gingrich, will at least momentarily take the role of the guy who can fill the void.

Even if he didn't win any delegates on Tuesday, that's a victory nonetheless."