Osburn: Romney surges in Arizona, wins close race in MichiganWritten by Ben Osburn | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Amidst several weeks of slipping in the national polls, the Mitt Romney campaign rested easy on the night of Feb. 28 with needed wins in the Arizona and Michigan primaries. According to the latest statistics, Romney narrowly beat Santorum 41 to 38 percent. He was able to pull off Arizona, a less contested state, with 47 percent to Santorum’s 27.
Michigan is the Romney family’s home. Romney’s father, George Romney, was the 43rd governor of Michigan and once chaired the now defunct American Motors Corporation. Romney’s mother, Lenore, also dabbled in politics, running unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1970. George moved the family to Detroit in the late 1930s to focus on his automobile career. They became involved in the Detroit Stake of the Church of Latter-day Saints. It was in Detroit that Lenore gave birth to Mitt, the youngest of the couple’s four children. Mitt attended school in Bloomfield Hills and there met his wife, Ann.
Early in the year, pundits would have never guessed that the fight for Michigan would be this close. However, previous wins in Colorado and Minnesota gave former Sen. Rick Santorum the momentum needed to compete with Romney in his backyard. Additionally, Santorum’s strong stance on manufacturing growth may have been the deciding factor for many Michigan Republicans. In the words of Romney, “We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough and that’s all that counts.” To which Santorum responded, “We knew it was going to be Romney’s big night. The question was how big. And it wasn’t very big.”
What remains to be seen is how the results will affect both candidates in terms of delegate allocation. Arizona, a winner-take-all state, will allocate its 29 delegates to Romney. However, Michigan, which had its delegate count cut almost in half because it made its primary date too early for Republican National Committee standards, has a unique way of allocating delegates. The state divides its 30 delegates by the now 14 Michigan congressional districts. Each district receives two delegates and the remaining delegates are distributed according to the popular vote.
As of Feb. 29, it appears that Santorum and Romney have tied, with each candidate given 13 delegates from the state. Michigan’s 13th congressional district is still being disputed. This means that even though Romney won the popular vote, he could walk away with fewer delegates than Santorum, or more likely tie with him at 15 elegates each.
The Romney campaign chastised Santorum for engaging in what it called “mischief making” during the primary. Michigan is an open primary state, meaning that any voter can vote in the either party’s primaries.
Knowing this, the Santorum campaign sent automated telephone calls to registered Democrats, telling them to support him. Members of the liberal media called on Democrats to do the same, insinuating Santorum is less likely to beat President Barack Obama than Romney is. While Democrats only counted for nine percent of the vote, CNN polls show that more than 50 percent of them voted for Santorum.
Both candidates had previously stated that they opposed the auto bailouts, but it did little to help either candidate, as Michigan Republicans were spilt on the issue. Romney won big with the majority of voters who said that the economy was the most important issue, something that he has been touting the entire campaign, but it’s a topic on which Santorum has been silent lately. Michigan’s unemployment rate is at 9.3 percent, a percent above the national average.
However, of the voters who felt that strong moral character was the most important issue, Santorum won with almost 60 percent. One reason for this might be because of social issues. Santorum’s focus on the family and views against abortion resonate well with social conservatives.
Santorum especially holds strong views against same-sex marriage and government-funded contraception. Santorum did well amongst very conservative voters, a field where Romney has consistently faltered in, and must do better to win states like Tennessee and Oklahoma on March 6.
A question on the mind of Ohioans is how well both candidates will do in the March 6 primary. Both candidates made recent stops in the area. Romney held a rally at American Posts on Feb. 29. American Posts is the only remaining American manufacturer of steel U-posts for the garden and lawn industry. It was there that Romney took the opportunity to speak about American manufacturing’s biggest competitor: China. If elected, Romney would apply tariffs to Chinese products as a means of addressing what he calls their “currency manipulator,” problem.
He also spoke of bringing entitlement programs back to the state level as a means of cutting the budget deficit.
Santorum spoke at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg on Feb. 28. There he stressed increasing domestic energy production and stopping the proposed decrease in defense spending.
A University of Cincinnati poll shows that Santorum has a double-digit lead against Romney in Ohio, 37 to 26 percent.
Contrasting previous elections, it is unlikely that after Super Tuesday a clear front-runner will be decided. Not only will there be fewer states voting this year, but there are few favored candidates in the states that are. Romney is expected to win Massachusetts and Virginia, but a Gingrich win in his native Georgia would slow Romney’s nomination bid.
Likewise, any state Gingrich can win, Santorum has a shot at winning, if not a better one.
There is also the continued impact Ron Paul has on each state’s race.
If there is one thing that is certain in all of this, it is that this year’s GOP nomination process will resemble that of the Democrats in 2008 — be prepared to wait until June.
Ben Osburn is a graduate student in political science at the University of Toledo. Email him at letters@toledo freepress.com.