In the Republican presidential primary race Colorado and Minnesota are having their caucuses this evening. In addition Missouri held a “beauty contest” primary that will have no effect on delegate selection. Here is an explanation for why Missouri is wasting millions on this meaningless primary.

The polls closed in Missouri at 8pm Eastern. Caucuses in Minnesota start at 8 pm Eastern and in Colorado at 9 pm Eastern.

You can find my primer for tonight here. Results can be found at Politico or Google. There were no exit/entrance polling of these contests so the races are not likely to be called until relatively late.

9:30 pm – We are finally starting to get some real results from the contests. In Minnesota, with 4.4 percent reporting, it is Rick Santorum 44.5%, Ron Paul 23.8%, Mitt Romney 19.4%, Newt Gingrich 12.3%.

In Missouri, with 22.8 percent reporting, it is Santorum 52.4%, Romney 26.6%, Paul 11.7%. Gingrich decided not to get on the ballot for this beauty contest in Missouri.

9:38 pm – First numbers from Colorado. With 3.9 percent reporting  it is Santorum 49.8%, Gingrich 23.5%, Romney 17.4%, Paul 9.2%

It is still early but so far it is shaping up to be a good night for Santorum.

9:44 pm – CNN has called Missouri for Rick Santorum. Santorum will win this beauty contest by a big margin, but it is important to point out that no other candidate besides Santorum even bothered to campaign in Missouri. In retrospect this a smart PR move for his campaign.

9:55 pm – In Minnesota with 13 percent reporting it is Santorum 43.5%, Paul 26.7%, Romney 17.5%, Gingrich 12.1%. There is a good chance Romney could end up in third place in Minnesota.

10:10 pm – Some more votes have come in from Minnesota. With 18.8 percent reporting it is Santorum 43.1%, Paul 27.1%, Romney 17.4, Gingrich 11.9%.

10:26 pm – The major networks are calling Minnesota for Rick Santorum. With 27.7 percent reporting it is Santorum 44.9%, Paul 26.5%, Romney 16.9%, Gingrich 11.3%

10:34 pm – This is a big night for Santorum, he gets at least two wins before people go to bed this evening.

10:40 pm – In retrospect Romney should have followed Gingrich’s lead by not putting his name on the ballot in Missouri given that it is a meaningless contest. Santorum beating Romney in Missouri is a story, Santorum only beating Ron Paul would not be much of a story.

10:48 pm – Santorum is giving his victory speech now. He is trying to claim the title of the conservative in the race.

11:00 pm – With 96 percent reporting in Missouri it is Santorum 55%, Romney 25%, Paul 12%. It is important to note this is a non-binding primary. Gingrich chose not to take part and Santorum was the only candidate to campaign in the state. Even with those factors taken into account, this is still a big margin for Santorum.

11:05 pm – Ron Paul is projected to take second in Minnesota, this means Minnesota is the first contest so far that Romney didn’t take first or second place.

11:25 pm – We are finally getting so more data from Colorado and it is pretty good news for Santorum. With 26 percent reporting it is Santorum 42%, Romney 31%, Gingrich 15%, Paul 12%.

11:45 pm – In Colorado with 30 percent reporting it is Santorum 42%, Romney 30%, Gingrich 15%, Paul 12%.

12:30 pm – Calling it a night. With the vote close it looks like Colorado won’t be called any time soon