Election Notes: The Battle for Michigan

The latest Quinnipiac poll has Rick Santorum ahead of Mitt Romney 35-26 among Republicans and voters who lean Republican. National polls are not by themselves be good indicators of who will win the nomination. Futures traders at Intrade still give Romney a 75% chance of being the Republican nominee. But, as I wrote last week, if Romney loses his childhood home state of Michigan—the state where his father was governor—it will raise serious doubts about his ability either to win the nomination or to beat Barack Obama in the fall. And right now FiveThirtyEight’s polling model has Rick Santorum as a slight favorite to win the state. “Romney doesn’t seem to have a cause,” political scientist John J. Pitney, Jr. recently told the Washington Times. “There’s no Romney faction in the Republican Party.”

With Obama’s approval rating on the rise, that’s a concern for Republicans. ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported last week that an anonymous Republican senator said he would he would publicly call for the party to find someone new if Romney couldn’t beat Santorum in Michigan. The senator worried that if Santorum were the nominee he’d lose 35 states. “If Romney cannot win Michigan,” the senator said, “we need a new candidate.”

Michael Tomasky says that while a new candidate might still be able to enter the race and win the nomination, it wouldn't make a difference. The proposed late entries—like New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush—would have the same hard time pleasing the Republican party’s conservative base that the other plausible contenders have had. Tomasky argues that in the end “there is no one who can satisfy the base of the GOP—a cohort so drunk on ideology that they cheer electrocutions and boo a soldier—and be elected president of the United States.”

Political Futures Markets

Chance President Obama will win reelection: 60.3% (Intrade)

Chance Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination: 78.7% (Intrade)

Chance that Republicans will win control of the Senate: 74.0% (Intrade)

Chance that Republicans will maintain control of the House: 66.0% (Intrade)


President Obama’s approval rating: 47.6% (Pollster)

Mitt Romney’s favorable rating: 31.2% (Pollster)

Democratic advantage on a generic congressional ballot: 0.2% (Real Clear Politics)


“It’s not a new candidate the right needs. It’s a new electorate.”—Michael Tomasky

UP NEXT: the Arizona and Michigan primaries on Tuesday, February 28

Mitt Romney image from Gage Skidmore

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