What went wrong for Mitt Romney in Colorado? (+video)
Mitt Romney downplayed expectations going into Tuesday night, and it was predicted he could lose to Rick Santorum in Minnesota and Missouri. But his loss in Colorado was a shocker.
(Page 2 of 2)
In looking at the precinct data as it came in Tuesday night, New York Times pollster Nate Silver noted that turnout was much lower in Denver suburbs – where Romney likely has more support – than in other areas of the state where Santorum was beating him.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"We have repeatedly noted the pattern in which Mr. Romney's stronger states and counties have been associated with lower Republican turnout," Mr. Silver wrote Tuesday night. "In Colorado, where the demographics were reasonably favorable to Mr. Romney – he won 60 percent of the vote there in 2008 – it may have made the difference. Mr. Romney's stronger areas in the state were associated with turnout declines of about 20 percent. But turnout was steady or slightly up in places where Rick Santorum did well.
"Among other problems for Mr. Romney, this suggests that ... the caucus states could be problematic rather than advantageous to Mr. Romney, with his superior organization being outmatched by very conservative voters who have low levels of enthusiasm for him."
Romney may be relatively well positioned for the next contests – primaries, not caucuses, in Arizona and Michigan – and for Super Tuesday, where his big money and organization advantages will be especially useful. But caucus states will continue to be a factor (and some political analysts believe Hillary Clinton lost to President Obama in part because she underestimated their importance and his ability to perform well in them).
Most analysts believe the nomination will still likely go to Romney, but his loss in Colorado points to big weaknesses his campaign will have to address. One thing observers probably shouldn't do, however, is expect state voters in the general election to perform similarly. Colorado is likely to be a pivotal swing state in the general election, but voters then will be looking for something different than the caucus voters Tuesday night.
In Colorado, "Santorum isn’t going to be able to appeal to the one-third of the Colorado electorate who are unaffiliated as well as Romney is," says Professor Saunders at Colorado State University. "It puts Republicans in a bit of a situation. Did the Republican party shoot itself in the foot [Tuesday night] because of the results? I think Republicans will turn out even if Romney is the nominee, but there is definitely an enthusiasm gap for him."