Rick Santorum Wins North Dakota, Ron Paul Takes Second, NDGOP Establishment Hardest Hit

Update: Final, official results here. A district-by-district break down of vote totals are here.

With roughly 90% of districts reporting as of the time of this writing, here are the caucus results via the NDGOP:

Santorum’s win was by a wide margin, and a bit surprising because given the number of establishment Republicans who threw their weight behind Romney (see the full list below), up to and including popular governor-turned-US Senator John Hoeven (who got a shout out from Romney’s wife tonight). But what’s really surprising to me is that Romney not only didn’t win, he took third place behind Ron Paul.

Third. Place. What’s worse, in addition to taking third in total votes, it appears as though Romney won just two districts.

I wrote yesterday about what the implications would be for local politics if Ron Paul won the caucuses. As I noted then, the NDGOP has a bit of a civil war going on between conservatives/libertarians in the tea party/Ron Paul movement and the more liberal establishment which was responsible for electing Hoeven to three consecutive gubernatorial terms and to the US Senate.

If the establishment couldn’t get out the vote for Romney, what does that mean for the status of the NDGOP? Is there a rightward shift going on?

At risk of reading too much into a non-binding caucus vote that represents just a fraction of those who will vote in the primary and general elections, I think there is a shift at play. And it may lead to some very interesting convention results at the end of the month.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    Gee, I hope the ND RINO’s aren’t upset.

    • 308T

      :-D

  • two_amber_lamps

    The Republican Party better start learning to adapt to their new surroundings else they may end up on the endangered species list along with the rest of the ND RINO population…  

  • borborygmi

    At risk of reading too much into a non-binding caucus vote that represents just a fraction of those who will vote in the primary and general elections, I think there is a shift at”
          Non Binding and Fraction would be the key words.  Now if the Conservatives can duplicate at the convention, there is a shift not just wishful thinking.   

  • ZwilD1

    Yes indeed there is a right wing swing in western ND. We talk daily of the change that is needed and the youths are listening. Who ever said the Tea Party was gone to the wind has now seen grass roots sprouting up all over.

    • I H8 GOPers

       Santorum is a TEAno. Unless…the TEA Party has switched to supporting big government.

      Y’all have been punked by yourselves!

      • ZwilD1

        Troll your name says it all, A hater .

    • $8194357

      “Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and PART with him when he goes wrong.” –Abraham Lincoln

  • Conservative_Egghead

    I was at the Ramada in Fargo all night. Every “Establishment” Republican that I talked to (if by “Establishment” you mean District officers, legislators, and volunteers, most of whom work their tails off, only to be constantly criticized by people on this blog and elsewhere) were estatic that Ron Paul, despite his showing up in person, still ended up second both statewide and in total amongst the districts that voted in Fargo. This includes people who lent their names to that endorsement from the Romney campaign.

    If anyone “lost” tonight, it was Paul Sorum (who has completely hitched his wagon to that of Ron Paul) and people like Ross and Charlene Nelson, Dustin Gawrylow, Brent Narloch, and everybody else who tried to subject the party followers to a purity test.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Purity test…like the expectation that Republicans stand for the values they pay lip service to?

      This was a big loss for the establishment, make no doubt about it.

      • Conservative_Egghead

        I never knew that rabid isolationalism and anti-Semitism were standard Republican values, but I guess you can believe what you want.

        BTW, John Trandem, who’s one of those “Establishment” folks that you guys like to hammer on around here, was the main face and voice of the Santorum campaign here in Cass County for the last several weeks. I saw a lot of Santorum stickers on long time delegates and District officers. I voted for him myself.

        The Ron Paul disciples are one of many sub-groups within the Republican base: they do not have an exclusive claim on getting to define what it means to be a Republican.

        • Conservative_Egghead

          I should also mention that Libertarianism is only one sub-strain within the larger Conservative movement. Some people want to equate Libertarianism with Conservatism. Read some George Nash, or Willmoore Kendall: it’s way more complicated than that.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I dont think it was so much Santorun winning as Romney taking third after a concerted effort by the NDGOP establishment.

            Its funny to see all the butt hurt about that this morning.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

          — Ronald Reagan

          • http://twitter.com/JanneMyrdal Janne Myrdal

            likely true Rob, but sooo many use the word so lightly and thereby abuse its’ meaning and convey a form of selfish radicalism that only cares once in a while.  I am NOT saying anything negative about libertariansim at all, just perception, and some just use the description to hide and not take a stand.  NO?

  • Wesbutte

    North Dakota has a large population of church going Caltholics and Lutherans.  Somehow Santorum appeals to people of faith and folks in rural areas.  I am not surprised by this. 

  • Robertfrost

    And we all know that the caucus brings out so many of the republicans in the state.  Only the fringe cares, and Ron Paul couldn’t even win the fringe.  mainstream republicans show up in November, when it counts.

    • InTheKnow

      Usually everything you say is ass backwards but you got it right this time Bob!

  • TexasJew

    Western North Dakota will be very deep red with the oil boom, and it is growing expontneitally.
    A big government subsidy-addicted RINO putz like Hoeven should take note.

  • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

    …On health care, as he called for more government involvement, Santorum
    said Republicans had “dropped the ball” by not making health care reform
    a headline issue in recent elections. “I even said it to President Bush
    when he came to Pittsburgh to campaign for Dick Thornburgh [then
    running for US Senate] in 1991, that health care was gonna be the big
    issue and that we had to take responsibility for trying to solve this
    problem,” Santorum said. “We can’t continue to ignore it and say, ‘Oh well, you know, it will work itself out in the marketplace.’ That’s wrong.”

    “I take a much more proactive position in government in
    solving problems than most Republicans, because I believe government has a
    role. A lot of folks believe, ‘Well, just keep government out of it.’ I don’t
    believe that.” He added, “I think government has a role in making sure that
    there is equal opportunity.”

    • Gern Blanston

      There’s nothing in either quote that links him to the likes of the Afordable Care Act. Nothing in there suggesting we reform healthcare insurance. I’m sure he’d argue that he was talking about healthcare costs, not insurance costs.  You see, those are actually two completely separate issues. For some reasson, we’ve tried to address healthcare costs though changes in insurance. And Conservatives don’t deny governmnet CAN have a role. It’s the size of role that matters; and when it comes to government spending, libs ask for an inch and take a mile.

  • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

    Joe the not a plumber is in and mean Jean the Vietnam Vet disparager is out!

  • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

    Interweb says Rick “the Catholic” lost the actual Catholic vote in Ohio by double digits.
    I guess throwing up over the first Catholic President didn’t do him much good after all.

    The next round of gop primaries and the days leading up to them will be great!

  • http://twitter.com/JanneMyrdal Janne Myrdal

    Hey, wait up!  Could it be that those darn “social issues” matter after all?  Last nihgt spoke clearly of the values of the voters, period! Wake up folks, whatever you call yourself, but social issues are the foundation of society, such things as RIGHT TO LIFE! and traditional marriage.  What last night’s vote in ND said clearly is that you can call yourself whatever you want, cut taxes, frac oil (and we ALL favor this)  but unless we have a solid foundation, we are only finding fools gold at the end of the rainbow. 

  • borborygmi

    Energy and enthusiasm win out.

  • Davoarid

    Wait, there’s an election going on?

  • Patrickdavis86

     

    Through last night, Super Tuesday, Romney has only won 41%
    of the Republican vote, leaving 59% of Republicans voting for someone
    else.  Every other candidate combined has won 1.5 million more Republican
    Primary/caucus votes than Mitt. 

     

    Beating Obama will require a unified “right” and motivated
    “conservative movement”. 

     

    Mitt is not unifying the “right” nor motivating the
    “conservative movement” as evidenced by these results. 

     

    If Mitt genuinely wants to beat Obama he will quit now while
    we still have a chance to unify the “right” and motivate the “conservative
    movement”.

     

    The longer Mitt stays in this race, the more demoralizing
    Mitt makes the core conservative constituencies of the Republican Party.

     

    For the good of the American “Right” Mitt should quit!

     

    Patrick Davis

     

    • borborygmi

      You have to pucker up and win the  independents.  I am doubtful Independents will vote for Santorum. 

      • Camsaure

        The demographics of independents has changed in the last few years. Independents at on time was made up of folk unable or unwilling to make a stand. Now days more are made up of Tea Partiers and others alienated by the progressive RINOs and business as usual politicians. In other words those who have become sick and tired of govt corruption.

  • Lady Known as Lou

    No one argues that certain elements in the NDGOP have “worked their tails off”, but the problem is for what?  Just what has been their agenda?  I have “worked my tail off” for this party in years past and supported a lot of very marginal candidates who didn’t stand for much, more or less as “place holders” to prevent someone worse (the Democrat) from being elected.  The problem is that this regimen has given us Democrats dressed up as Republicans and they, in turn, have conspired with the Democrat “regulars” to bring us really over the edge with bankruptcy, distorted markets, economic meltdown, joblessness, regulatory overreach to a shocking degree and have weakened our country to the point where many are concerned that we might never be able to bring it back to health.   These “hardworking” NDGOPers have been working hard to promote themselves.  They like to golf with Mikey Hoeven.  They like the country clubs and the golf courses and hanging around with their own self-styled “elitist” set.  They have spurned the Tea Party movement – the “newcomers” who they think are not entitled to participate.  At the same time they tell everyone who will listen to shun third parties because “its a sure way to elect the Democrat!”  They don’t go so far, however, as to let these tea party Republicans (I borrowed that from “Midnight in Paris”) indoors.  They want to reserve the seats of power and influence for themselves and their selected friends.  We could tolerate this – in fact the tea party might not even have sprung up – if these elitists had a clue what they wanted this power for.  They accuse the tea party activists of coming in  – barging in – with their “agenda”.  Then, they speculate, these people will get what they want and LEAVE!  In other words, will try to use their common sense to redirect a wayward state and nation back to the Constitution, contribute their efforts while it is needed and then, like Cincinnatus, or the “citizen patriot” the RINOs claim to prize, go back to tilling their fields.  So, what’s wrong with that?  So they don’t want to come and take over permanently?  Is that a PROBLEM?  That perhaps they want to do their bit and then let someone else do their bit? 

    I couldn’t be happier that Romney bit the electoral dust in ND.  He would be that icon to the RINO establishment that has been driving the NDGOP.  I liked Ron Paul’s position on the Constitution and founding prinicples.  I even could see his point with foreign policy.  What lost me was his colluding with Romney.  I don’t blame his supporters for this.  I don’t even know if I am right.  I just have a hunch.  So I am glad that Santorum won here.  I don’t read this as anything against Paul Sorum.  Sorum clearly represents the conservative, right of the spectrum.  I can see no conflict in supporting both Santorum and Sorum.  It is consistent with an effort to seek the most conservative, responsible and honest candidate and support him. 

    • borborygmi

      Chris Berg and Al were poo pooing Paul and Sorum’s support for Paul last night in an interview.  The Conservatives consider Paul and his supporters Jokes.

      • Camsaure

        Are you so blind that you really can’t see the differnce between Conservatives and many republicans?

  • John

    The religious right is alive and well in ND. Nationally they and the GOP are trying to repackage themselves as social conservatives, but conservative independents are not fooled by this. The GOP is gonna hand Obama a second term because of stupidity.

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