The consequences of Santorumania
Get ready for Santorumania.
Rick Santorum was expected to do well in Missouri on Tuesday, but Minnesota and Colorado were question marks; after all, Mitt Romney won both of those states in 2008.
As of about 8 p.m. Pacific time, though, it looked as if the evening could turn into an unexpected Santorum sweep.
The former Pennsylvania senator was on track to win in both Missouri and Minnesota, and Colorado -- purportedly a Romney bastion -- looked close.
Romney's standing as the presumptive nominee has taken a blow.
Newt Gingrich's standing as the conservative alternative to Romney has taken a blow too. Gingrich was running fourth in Minnesota; he wasn't even on the ballot in Missouri.
And Santorum, for the first time in this campaign, has a chance to establish himself as a serious contender.
So the Republican race is still open -- at least until Super Tuesday on March 6, with its seven primaries and three caucuses.
The overall beneficiary: President Obama. The Republican campaign, a festival of negative campaigning, has made all the GOP candidates look worse.
Photo: Rick Santorum waits backstage before a rally Tuesday in Minnesota. Credit: Ben Garvin / Getty Images