Rick Santorum has won the Minnesota caucuses and the nonbinding Missouri primary. At this writing it looks like he may win the Colorado caucuses, too, but even if Mitt Romney pulls out a win there, this is Santorum’s night.
As noted here at the time, Santorum was campaigning in Missouri and Minnesota (and Colorado) when Romney and Newt Gingrich were still slugging it out in Florida. The strategy paid off; Santorum was in these states significantly more than his rivals, and Nate Silver notes some empirical evidence that spending more time in a state helps a candidate outperform his poll numbers.
While tonight’s contests don’t push Santorum very far forward in the delegate count, he will undoubtedly get a fundraising boost out his victories; the question is how far it can take him. When the Conservative Political Action Conference convenes in Washington later this week — with Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich all slated to speak — you can bet that activists will be conferring at the bars in and around the Marriott Wardman Park to puzzle over that question. As it always is during a hotly contested primary, this should be an interesting CPAC indeed.