Louisiana Republicans don't seem very interested in ending the party's long presidential primary, handing a decisive win to underdog Rick Santorum on Saturday. Santorum scored 49 percent to frontrunner Mitt Romney's 27 percent, with Newt Gingrich at 16 percent and Ron Paul at 6 percent. Santorum seized on the win — his 11th of the campaign — comparing his run to Ronald Reagan's 1976 insurgent campaign against President Gerald Ford. The pundits have declared the race over, Santorum told Louisiana voters, but "you didn't get the memo." The pundits, of course, are still skeptical. Here, three takeaways from Santorum's "bayou blowout":
1. Romney is still a weak frontrunner
I had expected Romney to get "mired in the bayou," but "I didn't think he'd sink this far in," says John Cassidy at The New Yorker. Santorum beat Romney in 62 of Louisiana's 63 parishes, and among all demographics — women, men, conservatives, liberals, Catholics, evangelicals, all age groups, all levels of education — except one: Those earning at least $200,000 a year. For a frontrunner, even in unfriendly territory, "this was hardly a reassuring performance." The only good news for Romney, says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post, is that "Louisiana is the last state from the Deep South that will vote."
2. Gingrich has become a non-factor
Louisiana embarrassed Romney, but it "put the wooden stake through the presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich," says Don Surber in the Charleston, W.V., Daily Mail. With a measly two wins in his column, Georgia and South Carolina, it's clear that Newt's Southern strategy has failed. He won't notch the five wins needed to even have his delegates counted at the GOP convention, so it's high time for Gingrich to "pull the plug."
3. But Santorum's win wasn't a game-changer
Santorum and his supporters celebrated the Louisiana blowout, but "nothing really changed the reality of the fact that this race is, in any realistic sense of the word, over," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Santorum only got five more delegates than Romney, and the next slate of contests are in Romney territory, with the possible exception of Wisconsin. So congrats on your win, Team Santorum, but "put simply, there is no realistic scenario under which anything other than Mitt Romney winning the nomination outright on the first ballot occurs."
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