Santorum Leading Romney in Michigan
If any pundit had suggested on Jan. 1, 2012 that by mid-February Mitt Romney would be badly
trailing Rick Santorum in Michigan, he would have had a chorus of people clamoring for his pundit's
diploma to be revoked. But here we are and eight polls have put Santorum ahead of the "official" front
runner. Here are the details.
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This situation is really astounding. After all, Michigan is not Iowa or South Carolina, loaded to the
gills with evangelicals. It is the heart of Middle America. It is the state where Romney was born and where
he grew up. It is the state where his father was a hugely successful businessman (CEO of American Motors)
and later successful politician (three-term governor of Michigan). It is hard to imagine any politician having
deeper ties to any state than Mitt Romney has to Michigan, and yet he is trailing badly there.
What is going on here?
First, there are large numbers of Republican voters who do not like Romney. He can say whatever he
wants, but they still don't like him (think:
"I do not like green eggs and ham"
except that story has a happy ending).
They think he has no principles and is just an opportunistic politician. The surge of voters to Santorum is not so
much about Santorum. He just happens to be the last man standing. For the not-Romney voters, it is Santorum or bust.
Second, the entire tone of the campaign has been so negative and Romney has been in the spotlight so long,
that many voters are taking an increasingly dim view of the Republican Party and some of that is rubbing off
on Romney. Primaries don't have to be negative. The one between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008 was
reasonably positive, with each of the candidates explaining why voters should support him or her, not why they
should oppose the other person.
This year's Republican contest has been extraordinarily mean and bitter, with attack ads outweighing positive
ads by about 10 to 1. Romney has been in the news longer than Santorum, so more of the mud has stuck to him and
Sheldon Adelson's pouring $11 million dollars into a superPAC whose mission is to attack Romney certainly hasn't
Third, evangelicals and social conservatives have finally found a candidate who talks to them.
Romney's pitch has been to the accountant wing of the Republican Party: "I can balance the books better than
the other guys and much better than Obama."
The true base of the Republican Party doesn't really care about economics (think:
"What's the Matter with Kansas").
They care about abortion and gay marriage, topics Romney has avoided like the plague and which Santorum has embraced.
Even voters who hate Obama with a passion and want to see him defeated never had much enthusiasm for Romney although
they will all vote for him in the general election if they have to.
Finally, the Democrats are helping Santorum under the radar. Debbie Wasserman Schultz over at the DNC has been
pointing out that Obama saved the auto industry and Romney opposed the plan. In a state where tens of thousands
of jobs depend on the auto industry, this ad is going to remind people of Romney's view that General Motors
and Chrysler should have gone bankrupt. Of course, Santorum also opposed the industry bailout, but the ad doesn't
mention him since its purpose is to take down Romney, not Santorum. Obama would love nothing better than to oppose
the poorly funded, ill-prepared Santorum in the general election.
Romney is no doubt in full-blown panic mode now and will throw everything including the kitchen sink at Santorum.
The trouble is, while Santorum is a target-rich environment for Obama, he is not a target-rich environment
for Romney. Obama will attack Santorum as a right-wing extremist. Romney can't do that.
But Romney knows better than anyone that a loss, especially a big loss, to Santorum in Michigan Feb. 28 would be
devastating and really threaten his campaign. If Romney loses, the only news story between
Feb. 29 and the March 6 super Tuesday elections is going to be about how Romney is on the ropes. If Santorum
can parlay a Michigan win into multiple wins on super Tuesday, Romney's only real remaining argument--that he
can win elections--will collapse and Santorum might become a serious contender for the nomination.
At this moment though, Romney is still the favorite, although at
the odds on a Romney nomination are still at 72% and falling. Santorum is at 17%.
But a Michigan win for Santorum would really roll the dice.
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-- The Votemaster
Feb12 Romney Wins the CPAC Straw Poll
Feb12 Romney Edges Out Paul by 194 Votes in Maine
Feb12 Santorum Leading in Michigan and Nationwide
Feb08 Santorum Wins Big in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado
Feb05 Romney Wins Nevada Caucuses
Feb05 Republican Primary and Caucus Schedule
Feb04 Romney Expected to Win Big at Nevada Caucuses Today
Feb04 Economy is Improving
Feb01 Romney Wins Decisively in Florida
Jan31 Romney Set to Win Big in Florida
Jan31 Santorum Faces Easy Choice Tomorrow
Jan31 Prediction: Florida Will Win Today
Jan27 Romney Takes Off the Gloves in Final Florida Debate
Jan27 Romney Failed to List Foreign Investments on Legal Form
Jan25 Obama Lays Groundwork for a Populist Campaign in State-of-the-Union Speech
Jan24 Romney Releases 2010 Tax Return
Jan24 Role Reversal in the Debate: Romney Attacks, Gingrich Plays Defense
Jan24 Fred Thompson Endorses Newt Gingrich
Jan22 Gingrich Crushes Romney in South Carolina
Jan20 Perry Drops Out and Endorses Gingrich
Jan20 Gingrich Surging in South Carolina
Jan20 Gingrich's Second Wife Attacks Him
Jan20 Romney Loses His Win in Iowa
Jan20 Romney Reported to Have Millions of Dollars in the Cayman Islands
Jan20 The Final Four Take Off the Gloves in the Last Debate before the South Carolina Primary
Jan17 Hard-Hitting Debate in South Carolina Changes Nothing
Jan16 Huntsman Expected to Drop Out Today and Endorse Romney
Jan16 Why is the Republican Field So Weak?
Jan16 South Carolina Debate Tonight
Jan15 Social Conservatives Agree to Back Santorum
Jan13 Eleventh Commandment Repealed
Jan11 NH: Romney 39%, Paul 23%, Huntsman 17%, Gingrich 9%, Santorum 9%
Jan11 Charlie Cook: Redistricting is Politically Neutral
Jan10 Romney Leads Going into the New Hampshire Primary Today
Jan10 Gingrich Goes Negative in South Carolina
Jan08 Romney Survives Debate Unscathed
Jan08 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
Jan05 Bachmann Drops Out
Jan05 Perry Hesitates, but Stays In
Jan05 Movement Conservatives Attempt to Find a Consensus Candidate
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