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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Romney Wins Washington Caucus

Mitt Romney has won the Washington Caucuses. With 60 percent of precincts reporting, Rick Santorum is battling with Ron Paul for second place. Romney, I'm sure, likes the sound of both those sentences.

Tomorrow we should have a decent estimate of the delegate breakdown, but we can expect Romney with close to 20 of the state's 40. His lead will extend further, as will his momentum heading into Super Tuesday.

Any avid reader of this blog should not at all be surprised by Romney's grasp on the nomination.

"It's Paul or Romney," Wash. GOP Chair Predicts

Fans of Rick Santorum and smoke-filled rooms will be disappointed in this just-published CNN article. Due to inferior organization, Rick Santorum has been written off by Washington's GOP Chairman, who cites the caucuses as won by those with the best ground-game. Therefore, he says, it's a two-way race between the uber-organized Mitt Romney and Ron Paul campaigns.

We're a few hours away from knowing the winner, but you have to think that with this news, the Santorum Campaign would, at this point, sign on the dotted line for a Ron Paul win.

Washington Caucus Preview

Today's Washington Caucus serves as a sort of preview of Super Tuesday. Coming into this past week, Rick Santorum desperately clung onto his remaining momentum. Once on top of Michigan and national polls by double-digits, Santorum's leads evaporated heading into the February 28 contests as he ran neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney. As we now know, Romney won Michigan (and Arizona and Wyoming), and the effects of those wins are seen in the most recently released polls.

If you still don't believe me that Michigan meant every bit as much to Santorum as it did to Romney, the following polls should change your mind. Nationally, Rick Santorum went from holding a 12-point lead in mid-February to a 2-point lead in the last poll taken before the February 28 primaries. Winning Michigan was imperative in slowing that slide. Then, however, he lost Michigan and the other two states. The effects? The two most recent national polls now have him down 12 and 16 points. That's a 25-point fall in about two weeks. Does anyone really think Mitt Romney would be down 16 points nationally if he lost Michigan but won two other states? Not a chance.

Moreover, though there aren't many, let's take a closer look at the Washington polls for today's Washington caucuses. On February 19, Santorum had an 11-point lead. But after his February 28 losses? He's down 5. (If you're curious, the latest poll--from PPP--has Romney 37, Santorum 32, Paul 16, and Gingrich 13. Paul and Gingrich's numbers are relatively unmoved since the February 19 poll.) Perhaps even direr for the Santorum Campaign (yeah, I couldn't believe it wasn't "more dire," either, but I am looking forward to using "direst" after looking all this up) are the polls from the Super Tuesday state getting the most attention--Ohio--which many think is Santorum's last chance to make this a competitive primary beyond March 6. Santorum had an 18-point lead on February 15, which was down to an 11-point lead by February 26. Then Arizona, Wyoming, and Michigan happened. In a Quinnipiac poll taken from February 29 to March 1, his lead fell to 4. In a Rasmussen poll taken solely on the first of March, Santorum's lead has all but evaporated, now reading him with a 2-point lead, well within the margin of error. (Meanwhile, in the last five polls, Gingrich holds in the mid-teens with Paul just a tick above 10.)

There's a lesson here, one I've been trying to explain for the entire primary season. You win a contest in one state, your polls benefit in another. It doesn't matter if it's home states or faraway ones. It doesn't matter if the win is in Maine and the next contest is in Arizona. Wins bring money, momentum, and polling bumps. Santorum's sweep on February 7 was a great example. Romney's on the 28th just reinforces what we already knew.

So how is this a "preview a Super Tuesday," as I claimed in this post's opening line? It's because Santorum still has a viable path to victory. Even with Santorum hemorrhaging what's left of his momentum, what if he can win Washington today? Being down 5 is not an impossible deficit to overcome if one has the more ravenous base. It's one state to focus on, moreover, which can be more easily managed by someone who has a disadvantage in funds. If Santorum does win today, we'll see momentum and money tip back to Santorum. This turn of events, of course, would be hugely significant ahead of Super Tuesday, held only three days from now.

Remember, Mitt Romney still has two enormous problems. 1) The base has yet to dub him inevitable. It'll happen eventually, as they'll want to take down President Obama in November, but they're waiting as long as possible before anointing the "Massachusetts Moderate." 2) The media desperately wants this race to continue. Nearly every headline and article about the horserace favors Santorum's pleas and pluck, while diminishing the value of Romney's wins and strengths. Thus, if Santorum wins Washington, it will be three days of Santorum spin just for winning the one state, when not five days earlier, Romney won three and got relatively little positive play in the media. Today's caucuses, therefore, could serve as a preview of Super Tuesday because it will show if Santorum has a decent shot at hanging close to Romney on the big day, or if we're just playing out the string of a decided nomination.

Incidentally, today's caucuses don't technically award any delegates. Much like Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, today's caucuses are large straw polls with no binding power. Of course, that won't stop many news outlets from using the caucuses as a barometer, and CNN, for example, is on record as saying it will use today's results in its delegate estimations.

With tonight's Washington results under our belt, we'll finally be able to take a clear look at the Super Duper Colossal Can't Wait Tuesday. See you tomorrow when we begin a massive three-day preview for the day that should, but might not, decide the nominee.

Friday, March 02, 2012

So You're Saying There's a Chance?

Sports fans know this feeling. It's when you realize that your favorite team probably can't put together a run at the playoffs. You realize they have deficiencies and imperfections, the combination of which are too much to overcome. If they're in the middle or latter part of the season, you look at the remaining games on the schedule and see that, mathematically, it's unlikely that your guys can make a run.

Yet, you allow yourself to dream. You say things like, "Well, if everyone gets healthy, and if our pitching staff/back court/defensive line starts playing to its potential, and if our head coach starts making some better decisions, and if the division leader falls apart down the stretch . . . then we have a shot at this thing!" Of course, rarely does a longshot comeback actually happen; that's why it's a longshot. Still, that's what sports fans do. We hope against all logic and dream against all odds. Why do we delude ourselves in this way? Because it keeps things interesting. Because it keeps things fun.

That's what the media is doing now with Rick Santorum. They're talking themselves into an extended primary despite the leader and favorite of the race, Mitt Romney, winning all three states this week. The media wants this thing to last for months, and for that reason, they're searching for a path to a brokered convention by keeping Rick Santorum alive.

And by God, that's what I'm going to do, too.

Over the next few days, we'll leave Michigan, take a pit stop in The Great State of Washington, then look forward to ten states and Super Tuesday. Stick around. It's going to be fun. And who knows? Maybe things will stay interesting.

GOP Primary Standings, 3/2

(Note: If you came here via a google search, or even if you didn't, these standings are outdated. Click here for the latest standings and coverage.)


Less than a day after we thought Rick Santorum earned a 15-15 split of Michigan's 30 delegates, word now comes from the Michigan GOP that Romney earned both state-wide, popular vote delegates, rather than just one. The decision cites a party rule adopted on February 4 that said the winner of the state's popular vote would get the last two delegates after the other 28 were determined by the 14 congressional districts. The confusion lies in the fact that a February 7 memo to the campaigns specifically stated that the two delegates would be allocated proportionally. The party now says, however, that the memo was inaccurate.

While one delegate won't mean anything in the race to 1,144, Santorum's claims that he matched Romney in his own state will lose some of its luster. I do think he won the news cycle on it already, though, so it's not a huge deal. Regardless, here are the latest projected delegate allocations, including this week's contests: Arizona, Michigan, and the caucus no one knew about--Wyoming. Check back later and throughout the weekend for some analysis heading into Super Tuesday.

Projected
CNN Standings
1. Romney--182
2. Santorum--79
3. Gingrich--39
4. Paul--38

Real Clear Politics Standings
1. Romney--154
2. Santorum--69
3. Gingrich--33
4. Paul--26

Wikipedia Standings
1. Romney--180
2. Santorum--67
3. Gingrich--46
4. Paul--46

Official (not counting unbound delegates)
1. Romney--135
2. Gingrich--32
3. Santorum--19
4. Paul--9

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Romney Wins Wyoming Caucus

And that's all I have to say about that.

The results:
1. Romney--10 delegates
2. Santorum--8 delegates
3. Paul--6 delegates
4. Gingrich--2 delegates

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Republican Delegate Count, 2/29

(Note: If you came here via a google search, or even if you didn't, these standings are outdated. Click here for the latest standings and coverage.)


Here are the latest GOP Primary Standings with all of Arizona and most of Michigan factored in. These Michigan numbers will change today and I'll have a new update and analyses later in the week.

Projected
CNN Standings Michigan still has eight more districts to officially award, according to CNN, and each are worth two delegates. Romney is expected to win three of the remaining districts, Santorum another three, and one more is far too close to call but leaning Santorum.
1. Romney--165 (includes his Arizona 29 and 9 from Michigan, with 6 to 8 more coming.
2. Santorum--44 (includes 7 from Michigan, with 6 to 8 more coming.)

3. Gingrich--38
4. Paul--27

Real Clear Politics Standings RCP has called all but one district in Michigan. They haven't doled out either of the state-wide popular vote delegates yet. Thus, 26 Michigan delegates are allocated, four remain. Santorum is slightly leading in the one district yet to be official, and the two candidates are expected to split the remaining two at state-wide delegates.
1. Romney--142 (includes his Arizona 29 and 14 from Michigan, with 1-3 remaining)
2. Santorum--59 (includes 12 from Michigan, with 1-3 remaining)
3. Gingrich--32
4. Paul--20

Wikipedia Standings (has yet to award Michigan delegates)
1. Romney--154 (includes Arizona)
2. Gingrich--45
3. Santorum--45
4. Paul--40

Official (not counting unbound delegates or Michigan)
1. Romney--120 (includes Arizona)
2. Gingrich--32
3. Paul--9
4. Santorum--4

Michigan Primary Results

"There's a strong chance of a funny result tonight. In fact, let's make this my out-on-a-limb prediction. Romney wins the popular vote, but does not win more delegates than Santorum." -IC, 7:15, 2/28

This prediction about Michigan's delegate results looks to be coming to fruition. With 95 percent of Michigan precincts reporting, Mitt Romney is winning the popular vote over Rick Santorum 41 to 38 percent. In terms of the Michigan delegate count, thirteen of the fourteen Michigan districts have called their races. Romney has won seven of them, Santorum six. Santorum leads in the First District, who has yet to call their race, by a small margin.

As of now, reports the Detroit Free Press, Romney wins 14 Michigan delegates and Santorum wins 12. The First District will determine another two, and two delegates will be determined by state-wide popular vote, which will probably split 1 to 1. If Santorum wins the First District, they'll split Michigan's 30 delegates at 15 a piece. If Romney comes back to win the First District, he'll win 17 delegates to Santorum's 13. All of this, of course, is in addition to Romney's Arizona Primary win, where he took all 29 delegates.

I'll have updated Republican Primary standings later.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Romney Wins Michigan, Arizona

(Click here for my live blog coverage of the Michigan Primary.)

You could see the wind taken out of their sails as CNN's primary team anchored tonight's Michigan coverage. This was supposed to be the state that solified the 2012 Republican Primary as a months long, competitive contest. But alas, as I tried to impress upon you for the last week, Romney still controlled the primary. Mitt Romney won both states tonight, and thanks to the media saying Romney was so vulnerable, his three-point, 41-38 lead (as of the time of this posting) is actually pretty solid. (Also solid, my 40-38 prediction on Monday in Romney's favor!)

Coupled with his Arizona triumph, Mitt Romney is tonight's big winner. In the coming day or two, we'll see the final delegate breakdown from Michigan--they're not yet available tonight--but the relevance of tonight is clear. Romney unofficially took back the momentum over the weekend. Now it's official. The momentum is back in his corner, and only Saturday's Washington Caucus lays between now and Super Tuesday.

Santorum needs to regroup as quickly as possible. In fact, his speech tonight started by talking about his mother and other strong women in his life--a clear appeal to regain the lost demographic that is the double x chromosome. Unfortunately for Santorum's team, they blew the speech by sending up Santorum shortly before CNN called Michigan for Romney, and they interrupted Santorum's speech to report it. Surely his handlers should know the call was coming any minute, and they should have waited for CNN to finish reporting on it. Much of his speech was pre-empted, and his attempt to manage the loss went out the window.

As for Romney, he needs to cement his momentum by winning Ohio. Georgia and Ohio are Super Tuesday's two biggest prizes, and he's likely to finish in third place in Georgia. That leaves Ohio, where Santorum is up in the polls. Romney's wins today will cut into Santorum's Ohio lead. If Romney can go there and take Ohio--in addition to doing well across other states on Super Tuesday--he might force the entire party to recognize his inevitability.

Don't forget to check back over the next couple days for more analysis, and I'll have an update on the delegate standings.

Until then,

-IC

February 28 Primaries--Live Blog

February 28 Primary "live" blog. Kind of.
A running blog of numbers coming out of the 2012 Michigan Primary (with a little Arizona mixed in) and other bits of presidential politics. Check back for updates throughout the night! (And don't forget to read my preview of the two primaries from this morning, or my predictions over at Construction.) Most of the pre-results focus are on the Michigan exit polls.

10:52--the final post.
Puh-leeze. A CNN commentator just said that Romney was expected to win Michigan. Nice try.

If you want real coverage, I just posted my instant-reaction analysis here. Have a good night.

10:34With 80% reporting in Michigan, Mitt Romney is back to a 41-38 lead, about 30,000 votes.

As Romney takes the stage to boast and re-set his crosshairs on President Obama, I'm working on my final thoughts for the night. It looks like we won't know the Michigan delegate split until tomorrow, but we still learned some things. Check back in a few minutes for that. Good night and thanks for following.

10:21
Wow, huge mistake by the Santorum people to go on to stage right before CNN interrupted with the Romney call. They should have known to wait until after it. Much of Santorum's speech ended up being pre-empted by the CNN reporting.

10:17
CNN Projects Romney as the winner of the Michigan Primary. Told you.

10:09
Rick Santorum takes the stage after blowing a double-digit lead in the last week as he's heading toward a 4 to 5 point loss (42-37 now). I'm betting he doesn't make this speech about social issues.

10:07
With two-thirds of precincts reporting, Romney is holding at 40-36 and is up to a 30,000 lead. We can't be too far away from, at least, a popular vote call in favor of the former Massachusetts Governor.

9:58
Passed 60% of precincts and both Romney and Santorum have lost ground to the field, now only showing 40% and 36% support, respectively. Paul's at 12, Gingrich 7.

9:47
That might do it. At the moment we hit half of all precincts reporting, Mitt Romney's steady expansion of his lead has just tipped from 41-38 to 42-37, or about 20,000 votes. Santorum might chip into that lead by the end of the night, but it's unlikely he can overcome a 20,000 vote lead.

That being said, remember, 28 of the 30 delegates are awarded by district (two each), not by popular vote. There are 14 districts, and there's nothing guaranteeing that Romney wins a majority of those.

9:43
CNN says three delegates can be awarded to each of Romney and Santorum. Six down, twenty-four to go!

9:40We just passed 40% of precincts reporting, and Romney still holds a 41-38 lead. The vote lead is up to 11,500, with Romney tallying 169,000 votes to Santorum's 157,500.

Paul's at 12% and Gingrich at 6.

9:25
We've passed one-third of precincts reporting, and Santorum is maitaining his 41-38 lead. I guess this is a good time to refer you to my official Michigan predictions over at Construction, where I said Romney would win the popular vote with a 40-38 victory.

9:20
Mitt Romney has opened up at 10,000 vote lead as he maintains his 41-38 lead with 30% of precincts reporting.

9:15--Updated Republican Primary StandingsWith the Arizona win for Romney, here are the updated primary standings as of 9:15 PM EST on February 28. I'll use CNN and Real Clear Politics as reasonably accurate outlets.

CNN Standings, 2/28
1. Romney--156
2. Gingrich--38
3. Santorum--37
4. Paul--27

Real Clear Politics Standings, 2/28
1. Romney--128
2. Santorum--47
3. Gingrich--32
4. Paul--20

9:10
With one-quarter of precints now reporting--about 250,00 votes--Mitt Romney has 103,000 votes, or 41%, to Rick Santorum's 96,000, or 38%. Ron Paul is in 3rd with 11% and 28,000 votes, and Newt Gingrich brings up the rear with 7% and 17,000 votes.

9:08Mitt Romney might be taking control. With 23% reporting, his 41-38 lead now means over 8,000 votes.

9:06
Up to 20%, an Romney holding at 41-38 in Michigan, and the spread is 4,700 votes.

9:03
This just in from the "More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same" Department: Romney overwhelmingly won in Michigan among voters whose primary concern was the economy or electability.

9:02
With 19% reporting in Michigan, Romney storms into the lead! He's up 41-39 and has a nearly 4,000 vote lead.

9:00
Arizona polls close. CNN calls Arizona for Mitt Romney. He gets all 29 delegates. The exit polls suggest Romney at 44%, Santorum at 27, Gingrich 16, and Paul at 11.

The most notable part of this is Gingrich's better than expected performance. In fact, Santorum finished closer to Gingrich than he did to Romney.

8:59
Up to 16%, we're at 40% each! Santorum leads by about 200 votes of the 111,000 between them.

8:55
At 14%, still 40-39. 100,000 votes between the two leaders, and Santorum is leading by about 2,000.

Oh, and five minutes until the polls in Arizona start closing. We can expect a quick call--and 29 delegates--for Mitt Romney.

8:52
At 13%, Santorum drops a percentage point while Romney gains won. 40-39.

8:50
At 12%, Santorum expands his lead some more, now 41-38, and up to 2,700 votes. Is he pulling away?

It's notable that we have 100,000 votes in at this point. At the 100,000 mark, it's:
Santorum at about 42 thousand
Romney at about 40 thousand
Paul at about 10 thousand
Gingrich at 7 thousand.

Yes, that's 101. I did mental math and rounding.

8:48
Up to 11%, Santorum expands his lead to 41-39, or 2,300 votes.

8:46At 9%, Santorum back to a 40-39 lead, up nearly 1,000 votes with 67,000 between them.

8:44WOW! At 8%, we have 39-39. There are 60,000 votes between the two, with only 30 votes separating them.

8:41
Ron Paul speaking. He's at 11% of the vote. Looks like another double-digit night for the little libertarian that could. He just pointed out the recent transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. One can understand why he got the second highest Democratic vote tonight!

8:39At 7%, Santorum holding at 40-39 and a 1,000 vote lead.

8:36At 6%, still at 40-39, but Santorum's lead up to 800 votes out of 43,000 combined between the two.

8:33
At 5%, Santorum back on top, 40-39%, but it's 93 votes out of 33,000 combined.

8:30At 4%, Romney catches Santorum at 40 percent. Romney holds a 200 vote lead (each at just over 13,000).

8:27
With 3% reporting, Santorum holds a 4 point lead, 42-38. (Paul 11, Gingrich 7.)

What we'll want to look most closely at is WHICH precints are reporting. Cities tend to go Romney, rural areas Santorum.

8:18
With 1% of precincts reporting, Rick Santorum is destroying Mitt Romney, 48-34. And that's why sample sizes have to be bigger than 100 people.

8:13
Also from MSNBC: 50 percent of today's voters are without college degrees, or, as Rick Santorum calls them, "not snobs."

8:08
From MSNBC. Percentage of primary voters who felt "electability" mattered most.
Florida: 45%
Michigan: 33%

Advantage: Santorum. Romney has consistently won the "electability" trends, while Santorum is largely considered unelectable in a general election.

8:04Timeline tonight:
8:00--Eastern Michigan polls close.
9:00--All of Michigan polls close. Most Arizona polls close.
?:??--We have a call on Michigan. If it's as close as recent polls suggest, it could be a very long night.

7:55
Five minutes until the first official Michigan votes are reported!

7:50CNN's bottom line: 41 percent of Michigan voters said Romney's ties to Michigan was important to them.

Advantage: Romney. Most projections had today's winner around 40 percent. Are there Romney voters out there who said that Romney's home-state ties were important to them but didn't vote for him? It seems unlikely. Moreover, couldn't there be some Romney supporters who voted for him without caring about his Michigan ties? I'd say so. Thus, I think we can say that Romney probably breaks 40 percent, which could very well be enough for the popular vote win.

But remember, delegates are not determined by state-wide popular vote! Santorum could still earn a split or win despite losing the popular vote.

7:34
Update on those numbers--19 percent of Democrats went for Paul.

A new one: less than half of Michigan voters strongly favor their candidate. Yikes.

7:15
From CNN: 50 percent of Democrats voted for Santorum, while 15 percent voted for Romney. (I'm assuming Paul did quite well with the other 35 percent.)

Advantage: Santorum! (Duh). Thus, of Romney/Santorum Republican and Independent voters, Romney must win by a margin of four or five percentage points to make that up.

6:41
A surprising 51 percent of Primary voters disapprove of the auto bailouts, while 43 percent approve, CNN reports. While it is a mostly Republican electorate, I'm still surprised that a majority of them were anti-bailout. Perhaps this legitimizes all four candidates being opposed to it. If a majority of Michigan Republicans were opposed to it, then one can only assume almost all nation-wide Republicans are, too.

Advantage: Romney. More than anyone, he's been associated with being against the auto-bailout, while Santorum has more strength with manufacturing, and used Romney's bailout stance in an effort to attract Democrats.

6:05
Whoa! More Michigan exit polling from CNN:
Moderate/Liberal voters: 40 percent
Somewhat conservative: 30
Very conservative: 30

CNN went on to confirm MSNBC's numbers from below.

Advantage: tie. While Democrats certainly are here to cause havoc in the Republican Primary, there are moderate Republicans who certainly are more attracted to Romney than Santorum. While the "liberals" of this statistic are here to extend the primary, most of the moderates could very well be turning out for Romney.

5:30Check out exit poll numbers of the Democrat/Independent/Republican voter split in the GOP's side of the primary compared to four years ago. I saw this on MSNBC. If I find the online source, I'll link it.

2008Democrat: 7%
Independent: 25%
Republican: 68%

2012Democrat: 10% (+3 from 2008)
Independent: 31% (+6)
Republican: 59% (-9)

Advantage: Santorum! What a drop off of Republicans. I wrote earlier today in my preview about the movement to get Democrats to the polls to vote against a Romney mini-sweep today. These Michigan exit polls might be the effects of that.

What's interesting is that Romney has supposedly been the "electable" candidate for the general election. If he loses Democrats and Independents from his home state tonight, that says another story. No Democrat or Independent who plans to vote for him in the general election would vote against him tonight.

Of course, mark my words, if Romney loses or barely wins Michigan, he will surely blame Democratic involvement, and swear that he won a majority of Republicans. More exit polls from tonight's coverage across the channels will clarify if that's indeed true. Stay tuned.

Michigan & Arizona Preview

With Mitt Romney dominating the Arizona polls, we can chalk up the Arizona Primary's 29 delegates to his column. Thus, today's post will focus on Michigan, its importance, and how several scenarios might affect the next week and beyond. (For more on that, head on over to Construction and check out my roundtable with three other political commentators.)

First, can everyone stop saying Michigan means more to Romney than it does to Rick Santorum? It doesn't. Not even close. It's nowhere near a must-win for Romney, though you wouldn't know it by watching MSNBC or reading the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, or a host of other publications. Sure, while losing Michigan would be more embarrassing for Romney than it would be for Santorum, it would not be nearly as damaging.

Remember, since Arizona is a winner-take all primary while Michigan is proportional, Romney is guaranteed to leave today with a larger delegate lead than the one with which he entered. Of Michigan's 30 delegates, 28 are awarded based on wins in each of its 14 congressional districts. Each district is worth two delegates, totaling 28, while Michigan's final two delegates are divided proportionally by the state's popular vote, which will almost certainly be divided 1 and 1 between Romney and Santorum. Thus, it's unlikely either candidate wins more than 19 of Michigan's 30 delegates, so let's put that as our maximum victory. Either candidate could maybe put together 9 of the 14 districts, giving him 18 delegates from those, and 1 from the state-wide proportional allocation. Given the razor-tight polls, it's more likely, of course, that the winning candidate wins 8, or that the two candidates split the 14 districts at 7 each.

That leaves us, then, with Santorum, at most, clearing 19 delegates in Michigan and the day as a whole. Romney would consequently earn a disappointing 11 in Michigan, but you must couple that 11 with his locked up 29 from Arizona. The total results on the day? Romney 40, Santorum 19.

Not even close.

Thus, even with a Romney loss in Michigan, Romney will surely open up his lead some more tonight, continue his recent momentum heading into Super Tuesday, and put even more distance between himself and his GOP rivals by the morning of March 7. And that's all with a Romney loss in Michigan. There's no substantive reason to believe he will lose his home state, as all polls point to momentum in Romney's corner, both in Michigan polls and national ones. We then arrive back where this post began: a Santorum loss in Michigan is devastating, much more so than a Romney loss would be. It might just about make the rest of the primary a technicality, as surely Romney would win transition two wins today into even bigger wins on Super Tuesday. So Michigan actually means more to Santorum than it does to Romney, and don't let anyone tell you differently. The media wants this to last as long as possible. Presidential Politics for America doesn't play with your emotions. That would be wrong.

Now, that's not to say we're eight days from this primary being over. We're not. A Santorum win in Michigan is relevant insofar as it will extend this primary for another month, maybe two. A Santorum win in Michigan, despite the loss of last week's double-digit lead, is nearly as realistic as a Romney one. While Romney might have the momentum with the numbers, Santorum still seems to have a much more impassioned base. Romney voters are largely apathetic toward their robotic candidate; Santorum's followers, rabidly conservative, follow him around like a rock star. Recently, he even has two enormous conservative voices--Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck--supporting his cause as the last viable conservative in the race. Could their late push get the conservative base out to today's polls?

Furthermore, and I'm not sure if this is irony or not, we could see the conservative base teaming with, of all people, the Democrats of the state. Michigan has an open primary, where voters of any party can vote in any party's primary. They might push Santorum to victory in an effort to further elongate and discombobulate the GOP. It's unpredictable to what extent this will be a factor. Will enough Democrats actually support the ultra-conservative candidate in an effort to rattle Romney? Doesn't that come awfully close to "be careful what you wish for" territory? There's a sizeable and probably correct portion of the punditry that feels the 2012 election is a referendum on President Obama. In other words, he will win or not win based solely on his success as President, regardless of who the Republican nominee is. If this is so, than a Santorum win is just as likely as a Romney one, and Democrats have little purpose in elongating a race that might ultimately swing to Santorum's favor. It's not just playing with fire; it's playing with yellowcake uranium.

Finally, here are three things to watch for in tonight's Michigan Primary (again, there's little suspense in Arizona):
1. Four years ago, Romney won by 9.2 percent of the vote over John McCain. It's unlikely he duplicates this spread, if he wins at all. This worse-than-last-time trend has been primary-long for the primary favorite, which is not a good trend for someone who's been campaigning for the nomination for five years. Shouldn't his support go up with time? Anyway, look for how big his shortfall is tonight.

2. Can Paul steal a Michigan district or two? And from whom? If Romney and Santorum really are neck and neck in the district count, a Ron Paul theft of a couple districts that, probably, Santorum would win otherwise, could mean the difference between a Romney win in Michigan and a Santorum one.

3. There's a strong chance of a funny result tonight. In fact, let's make this my out-on-a-limb prediction. Romney wins the popular vote, but does not win more delegates than Santorum. Like I mentioned above, Michigan awards proportional delegates, but not via the popular vote. That means, much like the US electoral college, that the popular vote winner is not necessary the delegate winner. (To take this example to the extreme: imagine a candidate wins 100% of the vote in four districts, but barely loses the vote to one rival in the other ten. That candidate would win a huge majority of the popular vote, but lose the delegate split 20 to 10 (he'd reach 10 by winning both state-wide popular vote delegates).)

At the very least, it's nice to still have relevant primaries to follow. Let's see if Santorum can hang on!

See you on the flipside,

-IC

Monday, February 27, 2012

Latest Michigan & Arizona Polls

Before we get to the latest polls, please note that in lieu of a column today, I refer you to my participation in a roundtable discussion, found here, at the online literary magazine, Construction. As part of ongoing coverage on the election, Construction writers Ben Hoffman, Anthony Resnick, Stephen Kurczy, and I answered several key questions heading into the Michigan and Arizona primaries, and I think you should take a look. The questions were:

Can Romney lose Michigan and still win the nomination?
Why hasn't Romney fully connected already?
Did any of the former candidates make a mistake by dropping out too early?
When, if ever, will Gingrich drop out?All right, onto the latest polls. I'll go with the last four from each state and the last four national polls at the bottom. If you're looking for the latest delegate count or Republican Primary schedule, click here.

.
Michigan and Arizona Primary Polling (most recent polls at top)


Michigan Primary (30 delegates, awarded by congressional district)PPP (D), 2/26 - 2/26, 4.8 Margin of Error
Romney--39 (+2 over Santorum)
Santorum--37
Paul--13
Gingrich--9
WeAskAmerica, 2/26 - 2/26, 3.1 MoE
Romney--37 (+4)
Santorum--33
Gingrich--18
Paul--13
Rasmussen Reports, 2/23 - 2/23, 4.0 MoE
Romney--40 (+6)
Santorum--34
Paul--10
Gingrich--9
Mitchell/Rosetta Stone, 2/23 - 2/23, 4.7 MoE
Romney--36 (+3)
Santorum--33
Paul--12
Romney--9
Michigan Polling Average, 2/23-2/26Romney--38 (flatline)
Santorum--34.3 (flatline)
Paul--13.3 (trending up)
Gingrich--9.2 (flatline)

Average Romney lead: 2.4
Trend: Slightly Romney
---

Arizona Primary (28 delegates, winner-take-all)
Rasmussen Reports, 2/23 - 2/23
Romney--42 (Up 13 on Santorum)
Santorum--29
Gingrich--16
Paul--8
NBC News/Marist, 2/19 - 2/20
Romney--43 (+16)
Santorum--27
Gingrich--16
Paul--11
WeAskAmerica, 2/19 - 2/20
Romney--37 (+10)
Santorum--27
Gingrich--15
Paul--8
CNN/Time, 2/17 - 2/20
Romney--36 (+4)
Santorum--32
Gingrich--18
Paul--6
Arizona Polling Average, 2/17 - 2/23Romney--39.5 (locked up)
Santorum--28.8
Gingrich--16.3
Paul--8.3

Arizona Average Romney lead on Santorum: 10.7
Trend: Romney putting Santorum away
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National Polls from the last week
Gallup Tracking, 2/21 - 2/25, Margin of Error 4.0
Romney--31 (Romney +2 over Santoroum)


Santorum--29
Gingrich--15
Paul--11


Politico/GWU/Battleground, 2/19 - 2/22
Santorum--36 (+2)
Romney--34
Gingrich--13
Paul--7
Associated Press/GfK, 2/16 - 2/20
Santorum--33 (+1)
Romney--32
Gingrich--15
Paul--15


Quinnipiac, 2/14 - 2/20, MoE 2.9
Santorum--35 (+9)
Romney--26
Gingrich--14
Paul--11


National Polling Average, 2/20-2/25
Santorum--33.25 (+2.5)
Romney--30.75
Gingrich--13.75
Paul--11

National Trend: Romney. Throw out the fourth to last poll and it's a dead heat, whereas a week ago it was all Romney.

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