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News from the Votemaster

Romney Barely Wins Michigan     Permalink

In the all-important (for this week) primary in Michigan, Mitt Romney narrowly defeated Rick Santorum 41% to 38%. This tiny win will stave off howls of anguish from Republican elites hoping for a late entrant into the race, but the fact remains that nearly 60% of the voters rejected Romney, making him one of the weakest front runners in modern times. Even in Mormon-heavy Arizona, Romney was not able to get the majority of the voters to support him. Here are the results:

State Romney Santorum Gingrich Paul
Michigan 41% 38% 7% 12%
Arizona 47% 27% 16% 8%

Noteworthy is that 9% of the voters were Democrats, which is allowed by Michigan law. They supported Santorum by a margin of 53% to 18% over Romney. Without them, Romney's margin would have been slightly higher.

On Saturday, Washington state holds its caucuses, then it is on to super Tuesday on March 6, when 10 states vote. These are Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. Romney should be able to win Massachusetts and neighboring Vermont. Gingrich can probably win his native Georgia, but the rest (except for Virginia) are up for grabs. Virginia will be an interesting contest because it will be a one-on-one race between Romney and Ron Paul--Gingrich and Santorum failed to qualify for the ballot. All the other states are likely to be hotly contested. The most important of the bunch is delegate-rich Ohio with 66 delegates, second after Virginia's 76, which will surely go to Romney.

With all the hoopla, it is sometimes easy to forget that the race is really a battle for delegates. In Arizona, Romney won all 29 of them. In Michigan, the results aren't clear yet but he probably won about half of them. According to the latest count, Romney has 163 delegates, Santorum has 83, Gingrich has 32, and Paul has 19. Romney is clearly not going to deliver a knockout blow at any point, but by gradually winning a few delegates here and a few there, he is piling up a lead and that is what really matters. With 43 delegates at stake in Washington state and 419 up for grabs on super Tuesday, we should have a much better view of where the race stands in a week. And keep in mind, starting April 1, all the primaries and caucuses are winner take all, making it much easier for Romney to turn small victories like the one he achieved in Michigan into large additions to his delegate count.

Olympia Snow Announces Her Retirement     Permalink

In a huge blow to Republicans' hopes at capturing the Senate, moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) announced her retirement yesterday, putting this otherwise safe Republican seat in play. Despite the fact that Gov. Paul LePage is a Republican, Maine is fundamentally a very blue state and in an open race, the Democrats have an excellent chance of picking up this seat. In fact, in the wink of an eye, it suddenly became the Democrats' best shot at a pickup, overriding even Massachusetts, where Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is locked in a titanic battle with consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren.

Since this news came completely out of the blue (basically, Snowe, who is extremely wealthy, said the Senate is so dysfunctional that she doesn't want to be part of it any more), nobody has announced his or her candidacy yet. Nevertheless, Maine's two representatives, Chellie Pingree and Michael Michaud, both Democrats, are surely thinking hard about it. Pingree is probably the more ambitious of the two and is likely to make the run. She comes from a political family, with her daughter, Hannah, having served as speaker of the Maine house of representatives until forced out by term limits.

Currently, the Democrats hold 53 seats in the Senate, so the Republicans need a net gain of three seats to produce a tie (good enough if they capture the vice presidency) or four seats for outright control. North Dakota is a likely Republican pickup, and unless former senator Bob Kerrey runs in Nebraska, the GOP is likely to pick up the seat of the retiring Democrat Ben Nelson. But the Republicans have vulnerabilities too. Democrats have good chances to pick up Republican seats in Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. In the Silver State, Dean Heller was appointed to the Senate when former senator John Ensign resigned under pressure after it came out that not only was he having a long affair with the wife of his chief of staff. Then his wealthy parents tried to buy the chief's silence by giving him $96,000 which would be legal if they were genuinely gifts but would be illegal if they were in return for his silence, a tricky point to prove in court either way. Republicans didn't want it to come to a court fight so they put immense pressure on Ensign to quit the Senate outright, which he did.

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Previous headlines

Feb28 Michigan Too Close to Call
Feb28 Kerrey May Run for the Senate in Nebraska
Feb23 Romney Attacks, Santorum Defends, Nothing Much Changes
Feb23 Of Vaginas and Veeps
Feb21 Too Late for a White Knight
Feb21 Another Republican Debate Tomorrow
Feb17 Santorum Leading Romney in Michigan
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

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