Rick Santorum won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and a non-binding primary in Missouri on Tuesday night, an unexpected sweep that raised fresh questions about Mitt Romney’s ability to win the Republican presidential nomination.
On the flip side, it may help Romney inadvertently.
With Santorum emerging as competition to Newt Gingrich as the principal alternative to Romney, voters continue to veer among candidates but have not coalesced behind one consistently, often leaving Romney ahead almost by default.
Gingrich has won one state, South Carolina. Santorum has now won four, including Iowa. Romney won New Hampshire January 10 and then back-to-back victories in Florida and Nevada that had led to predictions that he was inevitable.
Not so fast.
The results on Tuesday shook the political world, though it is an open question whether they are a momentary embarrassment or a prolonged setback Romney.
Romney goes into the next round of primaries and caucuses much better financed than his opponents in what will be much more of a nationwide campaign.