Mitt Romney picks up two narrow wins today: the Maine caucus and CPAC straw votes.
Of course, CPAC isn't a delegate contest at all...but it can't hurt Romney to remind people that not all conservatives hate him. Or, to be more precise, this is yet another (small) piece of evidence that conservative elites aren't really rallying around Santorum.
As far as Maine is concerned...apparently, the relationship between the straw vote and the eventual delegate procedure is even less clear there than it is in some of the other caucus states. And there's a bit more anecdotal evidence that the Paul people were far more organized that the Romney folks. So we'll have to see how many delegates Paul winds up winning. Of course, it certainly doesn't look as if there will be many Santorum delegates (he got 18% of the straw vote) or Newt delegates (6%), given that those candidates were presumably even less organized than Romney in Maine.
A bunch of people have been writing about Santorum as a viable candidate now, thanks to his wins earlier in the week and subsequent polling surge. I'll probably write about this later, but what today's votes show is probably the effect of resources. Romney is going to compete in every state; Santorum hasn't so far, and probably won't going forward. That means that in order to win, he has to win just about everywhere he tries -- or, he has to show the ability to gather the resources needed to compete nationally. I think that would have been very difficult, but perhaps not impossible, had Santorum surged nationally after Iowa; it's just that much harder to do now.
Bottom line: today's results obviously don't prove anything, but they hint at plenty.
1. Mitt Romney is unlikely to just collapse and go away.
2. Resources (money, organization, elite support) matter, usually enough to trump the (very real, apparently) lack of enthusiasm for the candidate.
3. Conservative elites are, for whatever reason, simply not rallying around Santorum.
And now we hit the doldrums, with the next two events in Romney-friendly Arizona and Michigan on February 28.