Whatever happens next week on Super Tuesday, the race for the Republican nomination is likely going to go on for a while. By winning the Arizona and the Michigan primaries on Tuesday and the Wyoming caucus last night Mitt Romney reaffirmed his status as the favorite to win the nomination. Political futures market Intrade now puts Romney’s chance of winning at 83%—up four points from last week. Romney leads Rick Santorum in the delegate count 147-84, with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul coming in a distant third and fourth. But Romney will need 1144 delegates to clinch the nomination. With less than half that number at stake on Tuesday—and with Romney trailing in some of the Super Tuesday states—there’s still a long way to go.
By pulling out a win in his home state of Michigan—after trailing Santorum in the polls—Romney managed to avoid what would have been an embarrassing defeat. But Romney’s three point victory in Michigan was hardly decisive. Romney’s close victory highlights his problem appealing to working-class voters. As Jonathan Cohn says, Romney won Michigan even though exit polls show he lost among voters who make less than $100,000 a year. Romney’s going to need to do better with those voters if he’s going to be able to beat Obama in the fall. Obama was able to win four years ago in spite of losing by a large margin among white working-class voters. As Michael Gerson says, “Romney may be the only candidate capable of herding working-class voters back toward the president.”
Meanwhile, the chance that Republicans will win back the Senate took a huge hit after relatively moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) announced that she won’t seek reelection. Snowe’s retirement gives the Democrats a good chance of picking up a seat in Maine, which in spite of having two Republican senators generally leans Democratic. On Intrade, traders still give Republicans a 63% chance of retaking the Senate, but that’s down 11 points from just a week ago.
Political Futures Markets
Chance President Obama will win reelection: 60.3% (Intrade)
Chance Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination: 83.0% (Intrade)
Chance that Republicans will win control of the Senate: 63.0% (Intrade)
Chance that Republicans will maintain control of the House: 63.0% (Intrade)
President Obama’s approval rating: 47.6% (Pollster)
Mitt Romney’s favorable rating: 32.5% (Pollster)
Republican advantage on a generic congressional ballot: 0.2% (Real Clear Politics)
“The question with Romney, at this point, is whether he’s a strong general election candidate who is ill-suited for the peculiar dynamics of modern-Republican primaries, or whether he’s a weak general-election candidate whose vulnerabilities are being exposed in the Republican primaries.”—Ezra Klein
UP NEXT: the Washington Caucus on Saturday, March 3, followed by Super Tuesday contests in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia on Tuesday, March 6
Mitt Romney image from Gage Skidmore