Ron Paul Biggest Winner in Virginia Republican Primary, While Rick Santorum is the Biggest Loser

If anything, the Virginia Primary reveals the importance of having an organized ground-game. Governor Mitt Romney, with his strong financial backing, and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), with his dedicated following, are the only two candidates for whom Republicans can vote. Former Senator Rick Santorum and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich failed to get the 10,000 signatures in the state required to qualify for the ballot.

A Romney versus Paul contest appears a letdown for political junkies, but this is the first time Paul faces the frontrunner without the threat of splitting votes with any of the other non-Romney alternatives. And with write-in votes disallowed, this will truly be a head-to-head contest. The Virginia primary is Paul’s chance to prove his views on foreign, fiscal, and monetary policy resonate beyond his die-hard core.

Although a February poll gave Romney a strong lead, Paul could still pick up a few delegates. Forty-six of Virginia’s 49 delegates are awarded on Tuesday: 13 go to the candidate winning the majority of the vote, which Romney most certainly will accomplish in a two-man race, but an additional three go to the winner of each of Virginia’s 11 districts.

WhileVirginiais Paul’s best, and perhaps last, chance to prove the viability of his candidacy at the polls, the results will resonate most strongly for Santorum. Romney has a golden opportunity to gain up to 46 delegates uncontested by his main challenger. Completely whiffing on so many delegates in a state he could have polled well in will surely come back to haunt Santorum if he stays competitive with Romney nationally.

The Virginia primary may lack drama now, but don’t be surprised if Santorum’s snafu in the Commonwealth represents the difference in a tight race come summertime.

Photo Ctredit: Gage Skidmore