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Caucus aftershocks produce a tsunami of punditry

ALSO: Romney, Santorum, Pawlenty analyzed; “Fighting Sioux” return; foes focus on Voter ID finances.

Say what you will, politics circa 2012 offers no shortage of punditry. Following Rick Santorum’s sweep in Tuesday’s caucuses, the Wall Street Journal’s Neil King and Danny Adron are saying: “Mr. Romney still has far greater financial and organizational resources than do his opponents, advantages in what could be a long, state-by-state fight for convention delegates. ‘We had to make tough choices. We’re very focused on the delegates,’ said Stuart Stevens, the campaign’s chief strategist. ‘There will be the same amount of delegates today as there are tomorrow.’ As for Minnesota, Mr. Stevens suggested that Mr. Romney fell victim to the same forces that brought down Sen. John McCain in the state in 2008, allowing Mr. Romney to seal a victory there four years ago. ‘Last time I think that we were benefiting from being someone who was seen as a conservative alternative to someone who was leading the race at the time,’ Mr. Stevens said. ‘Rick Santorum spent a lot of time there to his credit and really worked it.’ “

Michael Wissot of Britain’s The Guardian writes: “The Missouri contest was meaningless. Without any delegates at stake and without Gingrich even on the ballot, voter turnout suffered greatly — hovering around 10% in St Louis County and only 23% statewide. Minnesota dealt a slight blow to Romney, who hoped that Governor Tim Pawlenty’s endorsement would at least deliver his own state. But the tide was slowly turning, and Santorum’s popularity in neighboring Iowa had a stealth influence in that race. The biggest surprise came in Colorado. Romney not only spent time and money there, but even planned a victory speech to offset Santorum’s success in the midwest. Santorum’s campaign strategy resembles that of Barack Obama in 2008, who steadily and quietly siphoned off support in smaller states while Hillary Clinton targeted the larger ones. Again, the problem for Santorum is that he is sharing most of those conservative delegates with Gingrich.”

At The Daily Beast, Ben Jacobs is not what you’d call flattering in his mention of Our Guy, T-Paw: “Mitt Romney may have been the loser last night but things were much worse for Tim Pawlenty. The former Minnesota governor, who briefly was a candidate for president, has done everything by the book in his political career. He won two terms as a governor of a swing state and then ran for the White House with a uniquely appealing brand as a ‘Sam’s Club Republican.’ But Pawlenty then ran out of money after not meeting expectations in the Ames straw poll, so he dropped out of the race. After all, there isn’t supposed to be a path forward in the presidential primary for candidates with empty coffers and unmet expectations. In defeat, he backed frontrunner Mitt Romney and became an eager surrogate for the Massachusetts Republican. Then last night, Romney not only suffered a disappointing setback, but did so in Pawlenty’s home state of Minnesota — which Romney won overwhelmingly in 2008. Pawlenty was once considered presidential timber, fawned over in national profiles as the future of the Republican Party. But last night, he couldn’t deliver his home state — which he carried even during the Democratic wave of 2006 — for the GOP frontrunner. Although Pawlenty was the lead surrogate for the Romney campaign in Minnesota, repeatedly attacking Rick Santorum, it did little good.” Do you think?

William McGeveran, a law school prof at the U of M, tries to explain Minnesota politics to New Yorkers at Capital New York: “Santorum secured a whopping 45 percent, Ron Paul 27 percent, and Romney a pitiful 17 percent. Moreover, as this map shows, the results were not attributable only to conservative enclaves: Santorum won everywhere, and Romney still came in third in the metropolitan areas, the iron-mining north, and the agricultural areas to the west and south. What’s going on out here in my adopted home state? There are the usual arguments about the quirks of the caucus process, as there was in neighboring Iowa at the outset of the contest, but I think it has a lot to do with the iconoclastic Minnesotan response to politicians too. … This isn’t only a function of views or demographics. It is as much or more about character — as in, being a bit of a character helps with Minnesota voters. Ron Paul fulminating about the gold standard clearly speaks from deeply-held personal views — that he clearly hasn’t first tested with conventional pollsters. Santorum’s homey speaking style and passionate values, which became liabilities when he was clobbered in his 2006 Pennsylvania Senate race, likewise helped him here. Campaigning in the state yesterday, Santorum said of Romney, ‘[H]e’s not inspiring. He’s not painting the vision.’ Minnesota voters prize authenticity in their candidates, and it often delivers ideologically surprising victors. The more moderate candidates remaining in the Republican race come across as a blowhard (Gingrich) and a phony (Romney). And around here, that’s fatal, even if wanting to abolish the federal reserve (Paul) or to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape (Santorum) isn’t.” Hard to disagree with that.

At the PiPress, veteran writer Bill Salisbury, back after some health problems, writes: “Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley told the Pioneer Press his candidate’s strong showing makes him the biggest threat on Romney’s right. ‘Head to head, man to man, Rick Santorum, polls show, is the better candidate to beat Barack Obama because he offers a clear contrast, and he offers a clear contrast to Mitt Romney,’ Gidley said. … Finishing third in Minnesota was a setback for Romney, who was coming off big wins in New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada. … His poor showing also was a political black eye for former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Romney’s national co-chairman who failed to deliver his homestate Republicans. It also may dampen the influence of former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and the rest of the state party establishment that backed the former Massachusetts governor.” Good to have you back, Bill.

“The Fighting Sioux” are back. The AP’s Dale Wetzel reports: “The University of North Dakota will resume using its contentious Fighting Sioux nickname despite threats from the NCAA, the school’s president said Wednesday, marking the latest twist in a years-long fight about a name that some consider offensive. A state law was repealed last year that required the university to use the nickname and a logo that shows the profile of an American Indian warrior. But supporters of the name filed petitions late Tuesday demanding that the issue be put to a statewide vote. University President Robert Kelley said the school decided to resume using the name and logo to respect the state’s referendum process, which requires that the pro-nickname law be in effect while the state reviews the petition signatures.”

The Strib’s Jim Ragsdale has a procovative item in the news: “Banks and business organizations have bankrolled Republican legislators as part of an effort to require all voters to show photo ID at the polls, a group opposed to the photo ID requirement said Wednesday. TakeAction Minnesota, a coalition of labor, environmental and disability groups, said campaign-finance reports show strong business and banking financial support for Republican legislators and leaders who are active in the movement to require photo ID of all voters. ‘This report outlines the financial interests and their efforts to insert photo ID into the state’s constitution,’ said Dan McGrath, executive director of TakeAction. He focused on the state’s three largest banks — Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and TCF — for backing the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2010, saying they helped ‘to elect many of the same legislators who are now pushing the photo ID amendment.’ ” Not that anyone is surprised, you understand.

You have to check in with Power Line after a big Republican news day like Tuesday. Well, I do anyway. Scott Johnson is saying: “In my new year’s predictions for 2012 I anticipated that we would be recycling non-Romneys in this year’s primary and caucus contests for the GOP presidential nomination. The prediction has proved accurate, except in one small detail. I thought the recycle non-Romney of 2012 would be Rick Perry. Wrong, moose breath! But I had the right idea. Newt having risen and fallen again in a manner that reminded us of his weaknesses, Rick Santorum now rises again as the non-Romney of the hour. He seems to me the logical conservative alternative to Romney in the field if there is to be one.”

Even better was an earlier post by Scott, with a lead graph that says: “Modern American liberalism is anchored in a deep hostility to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.” But there’s no direct Minnesota/caucus angle there, other than that liberalism is killing us.

At the PiPress, Doug Belden is saying: “A group of business leaders involved in getting Target Field built has re-emerged to push for a Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Sam Grabarski, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, leads the group, called Home Field Advantage. The group includes several dozen leaders from business, labor, the city of Minneapolis and professional sports. Along with the Downtown Council, organizations like the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and Meet Minneapolis are involved in the effort as well. Todd Klingel, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce, is vice president of Home Field Advantage.” The high-caliber armaments are moving in to place.