The battle for the Republican nomination continues tonight with three states holding contests: Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri.  As I write this, Missouri has been called for Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney is leading in Colorado.  Things seem a bit confusing because these are not all traditional contests in which delegates are awarded.  Fox reports:

But Mitt Romney still has the line on Colorado, which like Minnesota, is holding caucuses on Tuesday night that won't commit delegates but should provide some insight into the trajectory of the candidates. Missouri is holding a non-binding primary that sets up the standings for the delegate-awarding

Santorum has won the Missouri primary, winning publicity, but no delegates.  The Missouri Republican Party will hold a caucus on March 17 to determine the delegates.  Here is the current state of affairs in these three states:

According to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, Santorum is leading in Minnesota, 33 percent to 24 percent for Romney. Newt Gingrich is at 22 percent and Ron Paul is at 20 percent. 

In Missouri, Santorum leads the beauty contest 45-32 percent over Romney with 19 percent for Paul. Gingrich did not qualify to be on the ballot in Missouri.

The same polling firm shows Santorum with a possible second place finish in Colorado, behind Romney 37 percent to 27 percent with Gingrich at 21 percent and Paul at 13 percent.

Speaking to Fox News, Gingrich, who has been fighting hard against frontrunner Romney is back in polls, and conceded that he will finish somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Interestingly, Romney won in Minnesota and Colorado in 2008.  The competition continues!

There have been a lot of debates and now a number of primaries, so I thought our readers might be as interested as I am in knowing where we are in the process.  There is a little break now from debates.  The next debate will be held on February 22 in Arizona.  Then, the candidates will debate in Georgia on March 1 and in Oregon on March 19.  The full debate schedule is available online.

As to state contests, the next state to have a primary or caucus is Maine on February 11.  Super Tuesday is coming up on March 6.

How close is the GOP to picking a winner?  For the nomination, a candidate needs 1,144 delegates.  Mitt Romney leads with 101 delegates, while Newt Gingrich has 32, Rick Santorum has 17 and Ron Paul has 9.  The Wall Street Journal website includes an interactive map showing the delegate counts.  The candidates all have a lot of work left.

In business, we traditionally think that competition is good for the consumer.  In the case of election primaries, the consumer is the American people.  Will the American people get a better product if the competition stays heated longer?  This is something to think about as the competition continues.