Has Mitt Romney already won the Michigan primary?

Among voters who have already cast absentee ballots, Mitt Romney is the overwhelming favorite, according to the latest PPP poll. That could save him from an embarrassing loss to Rick Santorum.

Gerald Herbert/AP
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Rockford, Mich., Monday.

Mitt Romney may already have Michigan in the bag. Not that he’s cheating or anything. It’s all about the absentee vote – which polling shows will account for a significant portion of the Republican ballot.

In a poll of Michigan Republicans taken Feb. 26, Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that 16 percent of Republican primary voters will have already voted before Tuesday. Of that 16 percent, a large majority say they voted for Romney: 62 percent, versus 29 percent for Rick Santorum.

How do those numbers play out as actual votes? Four years ago, 869,000 people voted in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary. If the same number turn out this time, that’s 139,000 absentee votes. If you take 62 percent of that, that’s 86,204 votes already in the Romney column, versus 40,321 votes for Santorum.

So Romney appears to have a nice cushion heading into primary day – especially critical, given that those who plan to vote on Tuesday favor Santorum over Romney, 39 percent to 34 percent, according to PPP.  

If Romney ends up winning Michigan by a narrow margin – saving him the embarrassment of losing in his native state – he could have those absentee ballots to thank.

“Early voting could be Romney’s savior,” says a Michigan Republican who is not publicly aligned.

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