Romney Wins Washington State Caucuses and Cantor Endorsement

Well, that’s what I get for going out on a limb. Don’t you know, Mitt Romney not only won yesterday’s caucuses in the Evergreen State, he did so by a double-digit margin over Ron Paul, his closest contender. (Must have been that Ted Nugent endorsement.) Santorum appears to have come in third. CNN reports that with 99 percent of the vote counted, Romney had 38 percent, Paul won 25 percent, and Santorum, 24 percent.

I had predicted Santorum as Washington’s winner, a prediction flying in the face of logic — based on the calculation that in the 2012 G.O.P. presidential primary, logic need not apply. But every now and then, alas for me, it does make a cameo appearance.

Not that the win means a whole heck of a lot — at least not in the short run — since the caucuses do not directly award delegates. (The delegate-awarding will take place in June at the Republican Party’s statewide convention.) But what the win does give Romney, according to the pundits, is some momentum going into next week’s Super Tuesday contests, in which 10 states will hold their primaries or caucuses.

The big prizes among them are Ohio, with its 66 delegates, and Georgia, with 76.

Newt Gingrich’s strategy for staying in the race hinges on his likely win in Georgia, from which he served as a member of Congress for 20 years. (The New York Times explores the Gingrich plan here.)

In Ohio, polls show Romney having eroded the lead Santorum once held, and the two running neck-and-neck. But even if Santorum wins the popular vote, he appears to be inelegible to win the all of the delegates because, as we blogged here yesterday, of problems with his campaign’s paperwork.

UPDATE: Romney today won a key endorsement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who represents the 7th congressional district of Virginia, one of 10 states whose nomination contests take place this week on Super Tuesday. Cantor made the announcement on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” also saying that he was “not open” to running for vice president. Romney also got a nod today from Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Together with the coveted Ted Nugent endorsement Romney received yesterday, today’s big gets surely calm the fears of those who suspect the former Massachusetts governor of being something other than a true conservative.