* Dan Balz on what’s next: Even if Romney wins Michigan and Arizona, here’s why it won’t ally doubts about his ability to excite conservatives or prevent a grueling drawn-out contest.
* Key Pew finding: Americans dislike government regulation in the abstract, but ask about specifics — food protection; worker safety; the environment — and big majorities want the regs kept or strengthened.
* Obama’s attack today on Republicans for “rooting for bad news” on gas prices may be the furthest Obama himself has gone in that direction, and underscores how tough a fight over gas prices lies ahead.
* The fact that the oil and gas industry is aggressively attacking the new Obama tax reform proposal to nix subsidies to Big Oil doesn’t seem like terrible politics for the White House.
* Gallup finds that Obama’s favorability rating is higher than that of the GOP candidates, another sign of the toll of the GOP primary, though it’s also true that his favorables are lower than any nominee since Bob Dole.
* The pro-Romney Super PAC is running a new ad that’s virtually identical to one run in 2007 by the Romney campaign, underscoring yet again how meaningless non-coordination rules are.
* And one campaign finance expert says the pro-Romney Super PAC may have broken the law outright.
* Great point by Mark Murray capturing the GOP’s rightward lurch: “Last night’s debate was the first time when George W. Bush’s record — directly or indirectly — was criticized as much as Barack Obama’s.”
.* Two for two: A day after Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell backs off on invasive ultrasounds, the “personhood” amendment goes down to defeat. Another big victory for organizing.
* But David Dayen warns that the fight is just getting started:
The abortion battle, and the larger battle over women’s health, still will play out in the states. A judge in Washington state ruled just yesterday that pharmacies do not have to stock Plan B or other emergency contraceptives. And a Republican lawmaker in New Hampshire wants to repeal the contraception mandate in that state. The culture wars are just warming up, and while maybe the Virginia bill became too hot to handle, the forces who want to subjugate women are not likely to stop.
* Jonathan Capehart knocks down Brave Truth Teller Chris Christie’s latest not-so-straight talk about his veto of gay marriage in New Jersey.
* Conservatives are right: Obama just can’t stop apologizing for America.
* And your sorely needed Thursday comic relief: GOP Rep. Allen West is upset about gas prices because “it took 70 dollars to fill the tank of my 2008 H3 Hummer.”