The Washington Post

In Michigan primary, Romney dodges a bullet

Tonight, Mitt Romney dodged a bullet, but Rick Santorum lives to fight another day. Next Tuesday’s primaries will be very competitive, but Romney has the advantage.

Michigan was an ugly win for Romney but a loss would have been hideous. Style points don’t matter anymore. This is now hand-to-hand combat for the delegates.

Lessons learned for Rick Santorum include extremism on social issues gives you a ceiling. Mitt Romney’s lessons learned include all the lessons he should have already learned, especially that he has be honest with himself about his failure to thrive and then reassess his message. Something makes him off-key too often and limits his emotional connection with voters. Santorum could have beat him.

The numbers to keep in mind as the primaries continue aren’t limited to delegate totals. It is worth taking note of who is winning the states which will be contested in November.

Arizona has 11 votes at stake in November and Michigan has 16. But, Arizona’s 11 votes are essential to a Republican victory in a close race, while a Republican can win the election without Michigan’s electoral votes.

It is likely that Michigan will vote for President Obama. Senator McCain only won 41% of the vote there in 2008. President Bush lost Michigan to Senator Kerry in 2004, but he carried Arizona with almost 55% of the vote. If the Republican nominee wins Michigan, it would probably mean a 35-state landslide victory.

In Arizona, where Republicans have to win in November, Romney won big. Obama does not benefit from whatever bad feeling may linger in Michigan after this tough primary fight.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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