The Washington Times - February 8, 2012, 08:35AM

As good as Rick Santorum’s night was Tuesday in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, Mitt Romney’s was that bad, and worse.

In all three states Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, won fewer voters than he did in 2008, signaling that he hasn’t been able to hold onto those who turned out to pull the lever for him last time.

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In Minnesota in 2008 he won nearly 26,000 voters in the caucuses, while on Tuesday he won fewer than 10,000. In Missouri’s primary his take dropped from 172,329 votes to just 63,826. And in Colorado’s caucuses he won more than 33,000 votes last time but fell 10,000 votes shy of that this year.

Overall turnout was lower in each of those states, but Mr. Romney can’t take solace there — not only does it suggest a drop in enthusiasm from 2008, but Mr. Romney won a smaller share of the total vote in each of the three states this year.

Tuesday also marks the first time Mr. Romney has come in third in any race, as he fell to both Mr. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul in Minnesota’s caucuses.

So far, with eight states having voted, Mr. Romney has done worse than his 2008 showing in five of them.

Mr. Santorum has won four of those states — Tuesday’s three, plus Iowa’s caucuses. In the fifth state, Nevada, Mr. Romney won the caucuses but saw his vote tally their tumble by 25 percent compared with 2008.

Mr. Romney’s campaign stressed that no actual delegates were awarded in Tuesday’s voting. In the case of the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses, the delegates will be divvied up at upcoming conventions based loosely on Tuesday’s results, while in Missouri the nonbinding primary will be followed by caucuses and conventions that will actually determine the presidential vote tally.