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Two Losses: Santorum Surge Loses Steam

Two Losses: Santorum Surge Loses Steam

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Rick Santorum couldn't pull off the shocker he vied for in Michigan, losing to Mitt Romney in the state where he was born and raised and where his father was governor.

The networks called the race for Romney long after the polls closed because it was so close. There was some worry about whether mischievous Democrats might tip the result toward Santorum at the last moment. CNN exit polls in the state showed that Democrats comprised 10% of voters in Michigan, which has an open primary. And of those votes, 50% went to Santorum while just 15% went to Romney.

Santorum's campaign had actually made a string of robocalls to Democratic households on the eve of the primary, his campaign confirmed in media reports. The calls asked voters to join Democrats who would send Romney a "loud message," according to a recording posted by Talking Points Memo.

But that might not be why Democrats voted for Santorum, who still lost albeit by a close margin. The liberal website, DailyKos, had called on its readers to participate in "Operation Hilarity," which banks on the idea that Santorum doesn't stand a chance of winning the nomination.

"The longer this GOP primary drags on, the better the numbers for Team Blue," wrote Markos Moulitsas on his website in February. "Not only is President Barack Obama rising in comparison to the clowns in the GOP field, but GOP intensity is down -- which would have repercussions all the way down the ballot."

The prospect of Santorum winning anything with his cadre of antigay views might be more "terrifying," as activist Dan Savage told The Advocate earlier this month, than hilarious. Still, Moulistas explained his mischief this way: "In any case, it's freaking hilarious. I mean, Rick Santorum? Really? The Republicans have offered up this big, slow, juicy softball. Let's have fun whacking the heck out of it."

NBC news called Arizona for Romney as soon as polls closed in the state. And he has won more delegates and states than Santorum, who took Colorado, Michigan and Minnesota after narrowly winning the first contest in Iowa.

While the former Pennsylvania senator proudly emphasized social issues in the early contests -- even dramatically whispering into a microphone that "I fought the battle" on marriage equality while in South Carolina -- Santorum had claimed many times while in Michigan that he doesn't talk about social issues. He got a lecture from Meet the Press moderator David Gregory on Sunday for trying to claim the media was to blame for asking him questions on LGBT rights and contraceptives.

"Senator, no wait a minute," Gregory interrupted him. "You talk about this stuff every week."

Meanwhile, Romney had used an Arizona debate to flaunt his credentials as a defender of "religious conscience," alluding to his support for the Catholic Church in Massachusetts during a political fight over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt.

For their part in Tuesday's contests, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich showed that this race is going to continue, as they campaigned outside of the states in question. Paul was in Virginia, where it's only him and Romney on the ballot. And Gingrich was in Georgia, his home state. Santorum isn't going anywhere either and plans to move on to Super Tuesday in March.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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