This week’s report begins with a question:
What would you call a candidate who LOST the following primaries: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, California, Florida and Michigan?
How about, Mr. President.
That’s right. Candidate Barack Obama lost every one of those primaries, and more, in 2008 yet won the nomination. That’s why I’m not getting agitated over the latest results of the Republican race. As I’ve said over and over and over and over, Mitt Romney will be the GOP’s nominee in 2012 even if he loses some big states. Granted, Michigan is different for Mitt; he’s claiming pseudo-residency in the state and has set it up as a make-or-break contest. Obama at least won his home state, Illinois, so the comparison isn’t perfect. But still, the national media’s focus on whether Rick Santorum can win the nomination is a moot point. He can’t, and he won’t. To further muddy the picture, though, I will say that if he does manage to win it, the GOP will have committed hari-kiri.
The past three weeks have seen some extraordinary developments in the Republican Presidential Primaries. Rick Santorum caught fire (and brimstone) as the new, and probably final, conservative darling in the race. Romney made a few gaffes that have certainly hurt him, playing to a near-empty Ford’s Field and citing his wife’s two Cadillacs to name the main ones. What does it all add up to? A contested race that will probably drag on into the spring and even give Newt a chance to win his home state of Georgia.
On to the predictions.
First, in Arizona, the latest polls show that Mitt will win rather handily mainly because Santorum and Gingrich have pretty much conceded him the state. Arizona has a large Mormon population that will easily beat back the large Tea Party contingent at the polls (assuming that the Partiers can rush back from guarding the Mexican border in time to cast votes). Still, I think that Romney will need to win over 40% of the vote to make it convincing. Thusly:
In Michigan, things get complicated. In my view, Romney will need to win over 40% of the vote AND win by 10+ points to make a convincing statement. The polls aren’t showing that, but if enough voters decide at the last-minute that Santorum would be a sure loser in November, it could happen. I don’t see it.
What is more likely to happen is that Mitt wins, but by 3 points or fewer and gets below 40%. In that case, Santorum can claim a win-by-losing argument because Romney keeps saying that this is one of his home states (even though most voters don’t see the connection). The conservatives will have made their point and Santorum can then move on to Ohio and perhaps win that primary. He can also assume he’ll win Pennsylvania, which would greatly complicate Mitt’s message about electability.
The race moves on to Super Tuesday. The national press will continue to talk about a brokered convention, which will not happen. Romney will eventually be the nominee. Or have I said that already.