If Rick Santorum surges in the the next few states (Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri’s nonbinding “beauty pageant,” where Newt Gingrich will not appear on the ballot), it’s not that unthinkable that he could end up the premier challenger to Romney.
It’s a surprising thought, because since Iowa, Santorum has finished fourth, third, third and fourth. But for whatever it’s worth, Public Policy Polling has Santorum leading Romney slightly in Minnesota and eight percentage points ahead of Gingrich in Colorado for second place. And Romney isn’t competing in Missouri, dismissing the value of a nonbinding contest that amounts to a poll (albeit one that will cost the state $7 million to administer).
In other words, it’s possible Santorum could win two of the three contests this week (even though only Minnesota and Colorado will influence delegates). Maine is also holding caucuses this past weekend and next: “State Republican Party rules require that each town hold a caucus to elect delegates to the state convention early each election year. Feb. 11 is this year’s deadline, which also is the date the town-by-town presidential poll results will be announced.” Romney won those caucuses by a wide margin last cycle.