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Open thread: Michigan and Arizona; Update: Romney projected winner in both states

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 28, 2012 08:28 PM


Image source: AbsoluteMichigan.com

Prepare for a long night. In the Arizona GOP 2012 primary, Mitt Romney has an overwhelming lead. But polls close between 8 and 9pm EST in the hot spot of the night, Romney’s “home state” Michigan.

Exit polls indicate that despite lower turnout, there was an increase in BOTH conservative voters and Democrat voters.

Note that Democrat voter turnout is LOWER than the Democrat turnout in 2000 when the donkey party turned out for then-GOP candidate John McCain:

A divided Republican base is defining the Michigan GOP primary today, with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum again playing to competing wings of the electorate. Santorum, in particular, is seeking advantage among strongly conservative voters. But perhaps controversially, one in 10 voters in the open primary are another stripe entirely — Democrats.

That’s off their peak — 17 percent in 2000, when Democrats tipped the open primary to John McCain — but potentially enough to influence the outcome.

Ideologically, six in 10 voters in Michigan today describe themselves as conservative, evenly split between “very” and “somewhat” conservative. Preliminary exit poll results indicate that very conservatives, a group on which Santorum has focused his efforts, may account for a slightly larger share of the electorate than in 2008, when they made up one in four Michigan GOP primary voters.
If that helps Santorum, he’s challenged by the share of evangelicals in the Michigan electorate — about four in 10, similar to their 2008 levels and lower than their share in two states in which

Romney’s opponents have run especially well this year: Iowa (very narrowly won by Santorum) and South Carolina (easily won by Newt Gingrich).

Also worth watching are the choices of voters looking for a candidate who shares their religious beliefs; more than half say this matters to them, although many fewer, about a quarter, say it matters “a great deal”; and the six in 10 who oppose legal abortion, with differences between those who favor making it illegal in all cases, as opposed to most cases.

A good friend e-mails that no matter what happens tonight, Mitt Romney’s got a rocky road ahead:

The “sure thing” is never as sure as it seems.

After saturating the airwaves in the state where he grew up (Michigan), Romney has only been able to battle Santorum to a draw (more or less).

Even if we assume Romney narrowly wins Michigan, Santorum likely will remain competitive throughout the Midwest, the northwest, in the middle of the country (e.g. Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kansas, Wyoming, Missouri), and in border states like Tennessee.

Significantly, the latest Georgia poll puts Gingrich way ahead (Gingrich 38, Santorum 25, Romney 19). I assume Gingrich will be competitive in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana — all states voting in March. If he wins those states, it will change the narrative of the campaign. The story everyone will be talking about is “brokered convention.”

Meanwhile, Ron Paul continues to chug along, picking up a handful of delegates here and there. Maybe he will win Alaska or DC or some of the U.S. territories.

It is almost always assumed that Gingrich’s presence in the race helps Romney but I believe this conventional wisdom is incorrect. Gingrich is probably going to win Georgia on March 6th and he may also win a couple of other deep south states on March 13 and March 24. When that happens, you will begin to hear a lot of talk of a brokered convention. I believe voters may come to think of a vote for Gingrich (in the deep south) or Santorum (anywhere else) as a vote in favor of a brokered convention. Romney would be better off in a two-man race where a vote for Santorum really is a vote for Santorum.

[Today] could be a good day for Romney but how long will it last? Santorum is ahead in Washington state, which votes on Saturday. On Super Tuesday, 10 states will vote. Romney is likely to win only three or four states, and two of those states will be totally discounted (Massachusetts because it’s his home state and Virginia because Santorum isn’t on the ballot there). I think Santorum will win in Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and North Dakota. If Santorum also wins Ohio, I think Romney is in serious trouble.

Just 4 days later, Kansas and Wyoming caucus and I think Romney loses both of those states to Santorum.

Three days after that, Hawaii, Alabama, and Mississippi vote. I think Romney loses two out of three…

***

Update: 9:02pm Eastern. Cable nets project Romney the winner in Arizona, as expected.

In Michigan: Romney (41%), Santorum (39%) Paul (11), Gingrich (7). 19% reporting.

Update 9:26pm Eastern: 34 percent reporting…Romney 41, Santorum 38. 10,000 vote margin.

In the meantime, read this:

There’s more than momentum and bragging rights on the line today for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in the Arizona and Michigan primaries.

Delegates are also at stake for the GOP presidential candidates — 30 in Michigan and 29 in Arizona.

It is entirely possible that Romney could win the popular vote in his native state of Michigan, while Santorum splits delegates to the Republican National Convention with his rival or even nabs a majority of them.

Here’s why: Each of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts will award two delegates to the winner of the district. Two other delegates are awarded by the proportion of the vote won statewide. Arizona, by comparison, is a winner-take-all state.

A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to secure the GOP nomination. Romney is leading with 123 delegates followed by Santorum with 72, according to an Associated Press tally.

Various Michigan polls show Romney does best in the Metro Detroit area, while Santorum has strong support in more conservative areas of Western Michigan.

Romney “could win big majorities in metro Detroit but not win a majority of the congressional districts,” said Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a newsletter.

And this just in from Number Nerds:

“Michigan: We are able to project that Santorum “will secure at least 4 delegates in the 2 & 6” congressional districts in Michigan.

9:57 EST Eastern: 59 percent reporting…Romney 40, Santorum 36…23,000-vote gap…

Santorum on stage now in Grand Rapids. “Wow. A month ago they didn’t know who we are. But they do now. Great night. So thankful.”

Santorum to Michigan primary supporters: “I love you back.” Shout-out to 93-yr-old mom, whose 1st job was in Saginaw MI. Shout-outs to his wife Karen, his “rock,” and to his daughter Elizabeth.

Hammers Obama over EPA regs, opposition to fracking, holds up shale rock, slams Obamacare and abortion coverage mandate.

***

From Hotline: “Santorum seems likely to win at least 8 delegates from 4 CDs: MI-02, MI-03, MI-04, MI-06. Barnburner in MI-05. #MIprimary”

The Examiner’s Mark Tapscott tweets: “Santorum’s speech tonight reminded me of RR’s KC speech in 76.”

Read RR’s speech here.

***

National Journal: “Romney wins ugly”

Most people still think Mitt Romney will win the Republican presidential nomination. The question is whether it will be a nomination worth having.
Forced to fend off an unexpectedly strong challenge from rival Rick Santorum in his childhood home state of Michigan, Romney emerged from Tuesday’s primaries there and in Arizona with more delegates but conspicuous vulnerabilities at a time when President Obama is gaining ground.

In Michigan, it was less of a resounding victory for Romney than a near-miss of a humiliating defeat at the hands of a toppled Pennsylvania senator who is to the right of the Republican mainstream and running a seat-of-his-pants campaign. And that was the easy part.

In just one week, the former Massachusetts governor faces a gauntlet of 10 Super Tuesday contests, with the most competitive battlegrounds moving to Ohio and Tennessee. Polls show Santorum ahead in both states, though 45 percent of the voters in the Quinnipiac University poll in Ohio said they might change their minds. Romney is also the underdog in Southern states voting next week with strong conservative and evangelical leanings, like Oklahoma and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s home state of Georgia.

The contests will keep Romney preoccupied with persuading the GOP’s conservative wing that he is one of them and prevent him from shifting into a general election strategy focused on undermining President Obama’s support among moderate Democrats and independents. Romney’s standing has suffered among Americans who describe themselves as “very conservative,” according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday; only 38 percent of them hold a favorable view of the ex-governor, a 14-percentage-point drop in just one week.

Next stop: Washington state caucuses on Saturday.

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Categories: 2012 Campaign, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Media