Mitt Romney's 'blowout' Puerto Rico victory: What it means

The Week's Editorial Staff

The former Massachusetts governor resoundingly wins the GOP primary in America's unofficial 51st state, further padding his massive delegate lead

Mitt Romney trounced Rick Santorum and his other GOP presidential rivals in Puerto Rico's primary this weekend, winning more than 80 percent of the vote and taking all of the U.S. territory's 20 delegates. Romney and Santorum had both personally campaigned on the island, but Romney has the support of Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, and Santorum spent the last part of the week trying to atone for insulting Puerto Ricans by suggesting that the island be denied statehood until it makes English its official language. Here, three takeaways from Puerto Rico's GOP primary:

1. Romney's "island strategy" is helping him pile up delegates
The 20 delegates Romney won in Puerto Rico is "not an insignificant number," says Silvia Killingsworth at The New Yorker. For instance, "it's eight more delegates than New Hampshire has." It doesn't matter that Puerto Ricans aren't eligible to cast presidential ballots in November's general election — they're still giving Romney a boost in his quest to get the 1,144 delegates needed to seize the nomination. And this is just the latest fruit of Romney's "carefully planned 'island strategy,'" says Sam Youngman at Reuters. Money and organizational advantage have helped Romney island-hop to victory in places like Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa, and those wins have helped lessen the blow of several losing nights in the heartland.

SEE MORE: Tuesday's Deep South primaries: 4 possible outcomes

2. Puerto Rico strengthens Mitt's claims about Latino support...
Romney has "antagonized many Latino voters" with his relatively hardline stance on illegal immigration, but he can now argue that his "blowout win" in Puerto Rico means he could "win enough Latino votes in November to oust President Obama," says John Hoeffel in the Los Angeles Times. "Those people who don't think that Latinos will vote for Republicans need to take a look at Puerto Rico and see there that conservative principles and Latino voters go together," Romney told a crowd in Illinois on Sunday. 

3. ...And shows Santorum still struggles with Catholics
Unlike the U.S. islands in the Pacific, with their substantial Mormon populations, Puerto Rico is "overwhelmingly Catholic," says Kasie Hunt for the Associated Press. And continuing "one of the more puzzling developments among many in the GOP contest," the Mormon Romney once again "trounced Santorum" among his fellow Catholics. Even as Santorum cleaned up among evangelical Protestants in his big Southern victories, Catholics still broke for Romney. Still, Santorum isn't alone — Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the first major-party Catholic presidential candidate since JFK, lost the Catholic vote to the Protestant George W. Bush in 2004.

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