Missouri, Puerto Rico Caucuses Explained: Don't Expect Santorum Boost By Monday

Analysis

 @sara_dover on March 16 2012 12:34 PM
Missouri, Puerto Rico Caucuses Explained
Both Puerto Rico and Missouri will be having their caucuses this weekend, but don’t expect a big boost for Rick Santorum by Monday. Reuters

Both Puerto Rico and Missouri will hold caucuses this weekend, but don't expect a big boost for Rick Santorum by Monday.

Missouri, a state in which Santorum easily swept up in February during its non-binding primary, starts holding most of its caucuses on Saturday. But this time, the results won't be out until this summer.

And in Puerto Rico, which will be holding its caucuses on Sunday, Santorum has already hurt his chances by bringing up the sensitive subject of English as the official language, and he has been in damage control since.

Missouri

A Missouri contest may sound a bit like déjà vu. Missouri Republicans have already selected Rick Santorum as their candidate of choice on February 7, but none of Missouri's 52 delegates were assigned for the big Republican convention in Tampa in August because of complicated rules set by the Republican National Committee and Missouri's attempts work around them.

Missouri's first choice was to have a binding primary, but the new rules state that Missouri can't hold such a contest before March. Having a beauty contest primary in February and an official caucus in March to follow the rules and remain relevant in the GOP primary by having a primary early in the season.

We believe that Missouri has a significant weight in the nomination process, Missouri Republican Party spokesman John Prouty told the International Business Times. This is actually the second time Missouri has been able to make its voice heard.

It sounds confusing, but Prouty said they did what they can while still following the rules and they have been working pretty hard with the media to make sure everyone's on the same page.

So far, things look pretty good for Santorum. On Feb. 7, 55.2% of the vote went to the former Pennsylvania senator while Mitt Romney came in second with 25.3%. Santorum was the only candidate who stumped in the state in February, but Ron Paul and Romney have since held events there.

There are a few things that make the Missouri caucus special. For one, the results won't be coming until about June and counties continue to hold caucuses until March 24. Most of the caucuses begin during the late morning of St. Patrick's Day but a few have jumped the gun with a caucus on Thursday, the Southeast Missourian reported. According to the New York Times, GOP voters in Chariton County quickly agreed to send all of their four delegates in support of Santorum.

Also, Newt Gingrich will be included this time around. The former House Speaker failed to qualify for the ballot for the February primary because he didn't file the right papers by thedeadline. It's hard to predict how much Gingrich's inclusion will change the results we saw in February, but if the Chariton County caucus is any indication, it likely won't be by much.

Is the complicated process worth it for Missouri? Prouty said he wasn't sure if Missouri should do the double beauty contest/caucus process again; it depends on the party's evaluation after it's all over and whatever rules are in place in 2016.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is the last of U.S. territories to hold a Republican presidential contest and it holds the biggest prize. Both Romney and Santorum have traveled to the Atlantic Island with hopes to clinch its 23 delegates.

As Fox News' Geraldo Rivera explains, Puerto Ricans can't actually vote in the presidential election on November 6, 2012. The island has become a political hotspot, however, because of the issue of statehood.

Santorum made headlines earlier this week when he visited Puerto Rico and said that making English the official language was a prerequisite to statehood. He later clarified the statement, saying there are other states with more than one language, like Hawaii, but to be a state of the United States, English must be the principal language.

He spoke up again about the issue, emphasizing something that a lot of Puerto Ricans fear: that statehood would dilute its rich history by Americanizing it.

Right now it is overwhelmingly Spanish speaking but it needs to have in order for it to integrate into American society, English has to be a language that is spoken here also and spoken universally, he said.

Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio told Rivera, It's not a big deal. English is already an official language in Puerto Rico and most of its residents speak it. But by bringing up the sensitive issue, Santorum triggered an unnecessary firestorm.

Romney, who also won the most delegates in the U.S. territories of Guam, the Mariano Islands and the Virgin Islands, is headed to Puerto Rico on Friday. If he can manage to win over Puerto Ricans and benefit from Santorum's damage, he can add the favor of another island to his U.S. delegate count.

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