Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Santorum’s ‘snob’ comment could resonate among Michigan’s high percentage of non-college-degree holders

On the national level – particularly among independents -- former senator Rick Santorum’s (R-Pa.) remark that President Obama is a “snob” because he wants “everybody in America to go to college” might seem like political suicide.

Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
But a look at Michigan’s Republican primary electorate shows that Santorum’s remark could help him there more than it might hurt him.

In the 2008 Michigan Republican primary, nearly six in 10 voters – 57 percent -- held no college degree, according to exit polling data.

That’s a higher percentage than in all of the primary states that have voted so far this year.

In South Carolina’s GOP primary last month, 53 percent of voters had no college degree. In Florida, the split was 50-50.

In Iowa, 48 percent of GOP caucus-goers had no college degree.And in New Hampshire, only 45 percent of GOP primary voters had not graduated from college.

Of course, being a non-college-degree holder doesn’t necessarily mean Santorum’s comments about college will resonate. A Pew Research Center survey conducted last May showed that 94 percent of parents surveyed said they expected their children to attend college.

But Santorum’s broader message--that Obama is out of touch with Americans who have not attended college--is more likely to strike a chord among non-college-degree holders than among college graduates.

One other key factor that’s likely to come into play today in Michigan: Romney has tended to do anywhere from two to seven points worse among non-college graduates than among college graduates in this year’s nominating contests.

That means that if Santorum runs up high margins among non-college graduates in Michigan, he stands a better chance of beating Romney in the state where he grew up -- a state he won in the GOP primary four years ago.

By  |  12:04 PM ET, 02/28/2012

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