Rick Santorum was the favorite in yesterday's Kansas caucuses, the first contest since Super Tuesday, but he still managed to exceed expectations with an easy victory.
Rick Santorum won the Kansas Republican caucuses Saturday, giving him momentum as he and his GOP rivals sprint towards Tuesday's primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Santorum had 51 percent of the vote, with Mitt Romney getting 21 percent, Newt Gingrich 14 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas 12 percent. [...]
Santorum's victory in Kansas means that he will win at least 33 of the 40 delegates at stake in that state as he seeks to squeeze Gingrich out of the race, leaving the former Pennsylvania senator as the sole alternative to Romney.
Romney's 30-point loss was the largest he's suffered in any of the primaries or caucuses held this year. Apparently, Bob Dole's endorsement didn't count for much.
Several reports noted that Romney won Wyoming yesterday, but it's worth noting that the former governor had already won the state, and yesterday was simply about awarding delegates.
Nevertheless, yesterday was not without upsides for Romney. He was blown out in Kansas, but the former governor did very well in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands, picking up approximately 25 additional delegates away from the mainland.
The story out of Guam was especially striking: Romney won nine delegates thanks to the support of 207 people who showed up at the island's annual GOP convention.
Next up will be Tuesday's closely-watched primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, where polls show competitive three-way races. Romney has tried to lower expectations, but he enjoys the support of the party establishment in both states, and is spending a fair amount of time and money in both Southern states. A strong showing by Romney on Tuesday will give him added ammunition to say the nominating race is effectively over, and poor performances from Newt Gingrich may force the former Speaker from the race.