If Romney wins, it’ll be trumpeted by the establishment Republicans as yet another indication that he is inevitable. But if he were so inevitable, why are Romney and Santorum so close in Romney’s home state? The closeness of these races ought to have Romney worried.
Even if Romney were to win Michigan, he will have only won states that Barack Obama won in 2008. His consultants might see that as somehow foreshadowing a strong general election performance, but he has been driving down voter turnout, a sign, perhaps, of how disgusted Republican voters are with both their choices and the conduct of this campaign. Moreover, it bears considering that Rick Santorum has also won blue states–Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado–so the two of them could very well be competing over the same territory for votes.
This conceals the uncomfortable truth of this campaign: Nobody is fired up about Mitt Romney, with the possible exception of Mormons who overwhelmingly vote Republican, anyways. (I say possible because Colorado, which has a high population of LDS, went for Santorum.) Indeed, even if Romney were to win today, it could easily be spun as “not much changing” in this political contest. After all, wasn’t the native son supposed to win his boyhood state? Wasn’t Romney’s father Governor of the state, for goodness sake? If it is close in Arizona, it really does raise red flags about Romney’s “electability.”
If Romney loses, it won’t necessarily change all that much, either. He could still very well grind his way to the 1144 delegates he needs come the convention in Tampa, but losing Michigan will make that road that much harder. Interestingly, Romney will be, in effect, a regional candidate whose success hinges upon winning primaries or caucuses in blue states he will never win in the general election. This will necessarily mean that the Republican candidate will be far more moderate than the Republican electorate.
If Romney wins Michigan, this goes on to Super Tuesday where he will win Virginia, lose Georgia to Gingrich, and Tennessee to Santorum, according to the latest polling. In any event, for what it is worth, I’m predicting that Rick Santorum will win Michigan, if only because Romney has had a very low ceiling of support elsewhere. In virtually every race he has done worse than he was predicted to.