The high stakes primary: why Michigan matters
Given that Michigan awards delegates proportionately, the winner of the primary could earn fewer delegates than the loser. Even so, the contest is a must-win for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
(Page 2 of 2)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"... Endorsements are also bets that a particular candidate will do well (it’s rare for there to be any incentive to back a likely loser), and they’re bets made by people with inside information. Senators, governors and members of the House either know each of the serious presidential candidates personally or, at most, are at just one remove from them. The governors of Michigan and Arizona probably have someone they trust who has worked with Rick Santorum and has strong opinions about him. And what they’re hearing, apparently, isn’t anything good for Santorum."
Losing both contests Tuesday may reaffirm in many of those leaders' minds that Santorum's earlier wins were a fluke, and he can't go much farther.
On the other hand, a loss for Romney in his home state will also be a big blow.
Even though he (like Santorum) has sought to temper expectations about his performance there, Michigan is a state that until recently seemed almost certain to go to Romney.
Romney was born and raised in Michigan, and his father was governor there. Losing would raise questions – yet again – about why Romney is having so much trouble delivering victories in states (like Colorado) that on the surface should have been his, despite all his money and organization advantages.
There would be more questions about why Romney struggles in particular in the Midwest, where he has yet to win a state and which may be particularly pivotal in the general election. And about whether he is unable to connect to blue-collar, lower-income voters – a population that may be pivotal in November.
Yet again, his inevitability as nominee would be questioned (look for more talk of a brokered convention), the lack of enthusiasm he generates will be highlighted, and his lack of appeal to more conservative voters will be an issue.
Even with a loss in Michigan, it's not hard to envision Romney still winning the nomination – especially if he can go on to a better performance on Super Tuesday next week. But it will be yet another blow in an already rough month, and could further cripple him in the general election.
Questions about both Romney and Santorum will remain no matter how they perform on Tuesday – but a victory in Michigan, even a narrow one, could go a long way toward giving each of their campaigns a much-needed boost.