We are all, by now, familiar with the mantra, "elections have consequences." This is especially true tonight. It also kind of doesn't apply whatsoever.

This whole thing is a mess, so prepare yourself. Tonight, polls will close for caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota and a primary in Missouri. By most accounts, Santorum has a good chance to win in both Minnesota and Missouri. If he does, he will go on to claim that he is the most viable not-Romney candidate and attempt to edge out Gingrich as the overall second-place-guy in the GOP nomination race. But, the thing is, Gingrich isn't on the ballot in Missouri, so even if Santorum wins two states, Gingrich will say one of the wins doesn't count because he wasn't competing. But, then, Santorum will say that winning in Missouri without Gingrich on the ballot is actually even better because it shows he beats Romney in a head-to-head match up. And then, we'll all say, "Calm down, the two of you, you're both terrible."

But, if Romney manages to win in Colorado, as expected, and then also picks up one of the states Santorum is supposed to win, he will log in to his mainframe, activate his robo-win-speech, and try to claim an overall victory for the night.

It would appear that tonight's results will be important in further defining the shape of the Republican race. But, that's just an appearance because none of the three races tonight actually counts for anything.

The Washington Post reports:

Colorado is a non-binding precinct caucus. Their 36 delegates will be chosen at district conventions held between March 31 – April 13, 2012, and at the state convention on April 14, 2012.

Minnesota is a non-binding precinct caucus. Their 40 delegates will be chosen at district conventions held between April 14 – 21, 2012, and at a state convention on May 5, 2012. Delegates are not bound unless the state convention passes a resolution to bind the delegates.

Missouri will hold a primary [tonight] that is not recognized as being a part of any delegate allocation or selection process.

No delegates for the GOP nomination will actually be awarded in any of these three states based on today's votes. So, essentially, what's going to happen tonight is a complete farce that will be manhandled into importance by campaign managers and political reporting. It's going to be a lot of fun. We'll have more on tonight's races as nonsense develops.

[Image via AP]