Santorum Could Grab Wins, Momentum Today
Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri all weigh in on Republican primary field
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2012 7:26 AM CST
Updated Feb 7, 2012 7:57 AM CST
Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum greets a supporter after speaking at the Colorado Energy Summit in Golden, Colo., Feb. 6, 2012.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(Newser) – Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri will all get a chance to weigh in on the Republican presidential nomination today, in a day that might just change the momentum for Rick Santorum's campaign. Here's what to watch for:

  • Santorum's surge: If Santorum is going to make a move, now's the time. According to the latest Public Policy Polling numbers, he's in first, ahead of Mitt Romney, in both Missouri (45% to 32%) and Minnesota (33% to 24%). He's even second in Colorado.

  • 'Champion of earmarks': Team Romney is at least a little worried, because surrogates bashed Santorum yesterday as a "champion of earmarks," the Washington Post reports. Then again, they haven't resorted to negative ads…
  • Beauty pageants: …Possibly because only momentum is at stake here. All three contests are non-binding, and Missouri's is a pure "beauty pageant," with all the actual delegates being awarded in precinct caucuses in March.
  • Newt Gingrich's plunge: But momentum still matters, and Gingrich is about to lose a lot of it. He's not even on the ballot in Missouri and isn't polling well in the other two states, with fourth-place finishes distinctly possible.
  • Ron Paul's caucus gambit: The libertarian gadfly's strategy revolves around caucus states, so after a lackluster showing in Nevada, he needs to do well in today's caucuses in Minnesota.
  • 'Buckle of the Bible Belt': That's a nickname for Southwest Missouri, and with good reason. If you want to know if Romney has a problem with evangelicals, Politico advises watching the results here.