The Arizona and Michigan primaries are now behind us. Arizona went as expected, 47% for Romney, 27% for Santorum. It was a winner-take-all primary, so the Santorum team was wise not to spend money there. The focus was on Michigan, which went for Romney 41%-38%.
Both sides will of course spin for the greatest PR effect. For Romney, it is a win, but he had to sweat. It was not the steamroller his people had expected before Santorum’s rise. If he had lost Michigan, where he grew up and his father was a three-term governor, it would have been a severe blow to him on the expectations front. GOP establishment figures were already leaking comments about finding a new candidate if Michigan rejected its native son.
What about Santorum? How does this affect his momentum? It remains to be seen. First, the loss was not by a large margin. Second, it wasn’t a winner-take-all primary, so he will get some delegates. If you look at a map of the state, and which counties he won, you see he grabbed quite a few; he practically owned the central/western counties. Romney, however, took the Detroit area where there was a higher concentration of voters.
Super Tuesday is next week. Current polls have Santorum leading in a number of states such as Ohio, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. Ohio has 66 delegates at stake, which would be a big haul for him. The real question now is whether yesterday’s results will pull down his numbers. Or will his supporters be encouraged by a strong second-place showing in a state where he originally had no hope?
The GOP establishment is breathing easier today, but more tense times for them may be upcoming. If Santorum can pull off a number of victories next week, it could keep him on track for the Texas primary later, where he has a significant lead right now.
The long march to the convention did not end in Michigan.