Tonight will feature three state events related to the Republican Presidential primary. Colorado and Minnesota will both be holding their caucuses this evening starting at 7 pm local time.
In addition there is a totally non-binding primary in Missouri. Polls close at 7 pm local time. It is purely a beauty contest that will have no direct or indirect impact on delegates. As a result Newt Gingrich decided not to get on the ballot for this event. Most expect turnout to be extremely low in Missouri.
The official process for delegates selection in Missouri will begin with the March 17th caucus. If you are interested, Chris Good at ABCnews.com explains how idiotic political wrangling resulted in the state wasting millions on this meaningless contest.
PPP did the only recent polling of these three events. They found Mitt Romney with a big lead in Colorado and Rick Santorum leading in Minnesota and Missouri. From PPP:
Rick Santorum could be headed for a big day in today’s contests in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. Missouri looks like a probable win for Santorum. He’s at 45% there to 32% for Mitt Romney and 19% for Paul. Minnesota provides an opportunity for a win as well. Currently he has a small advantage with 33% to 24% for Romney, 22% for Newt Gingrich, and 20% for Ron Paul. And Santorum should get a second place finish in Colorado, where Romney appears to be the likely winner. The standings there are Romney at 37%, Santorum at 27%, Gingrich at 21%, and Paul at 13%.
Santorum’s personal popularity is the main reason for his sudden reemergence as a relevant player in the GOP race. In all 3 of these states his favorability is over 70%- 74/17 in Minnesota, 72/17 in Missouri, and 71/19 in Colorado. He’s far better liked than his main opponents- Romney’s favorability is 47-60% in those states and Gingrich’s is 47-48%. While Romney and Gingrich have hammered each other in recents weeks Santorum’s been largely left alone and he’s benefiting from that now.
Tonight could be a big night for the Santorum campaign with him coming in first or second in all three events. Doing well tonight will probably give Santorum his single best chance to convince people that he and not Newt Gingrich should be viewed as the most viable Romney alternative before Super Tuesday.