Some 18 hours after Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the Michigan primary, Romney partisans have sucked back in the large exhalations they expelled last night, having ducked the staggering blow that a loss there would have meted.
Vacations can be scheduled. Door-knocking trips to Nebraska for its May 15 primary can probably be canceled. Certainly, after an expected victory tonight in Wyoming, the prospect of losing Saturday’s caucus in Washington state could impose the unpleasant tit-for-tat dynamic that has dogged Romney since Iowa. And, to win, Romney muddied himself for November.
But the Romney camp – which hours ago was huddled, clad in expensive ponchos, against the unknowable turbulence that lay on the other side of a Wolverine State loss – is feeling good. Even if Rick Santorum pulls more delegates out of Michigan, still a possibility at press time, the topline has been the salvation of the Romney campaign. And even Super Tuesday, no picnic for Romney, will reveal the delegate arithmetic that will provide undeniable evidence that the convention is unreachable, several Romney insiders opined today.
And the oddity of this year’s nominating season has been further underscored. Consider what has now been deemed the watershed moment: a slender victory in a native state by the son of a former governor of that state, after winning that state's primary with 39 percent of the vote four years ago. That’s winning by not losing.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Romney Looks to Ohio for a Knockout Punch NEW!
[National Journal, 2/29/12] Victory in delegate-rich Ohio and a respectable showing in the other states voting on Super Tuesday would help the former Massachusetts governor regain the aura of inevitability he’s lost over the past month.
Michigan Could Be Romney’s Battle of the Bulge
[National Journal, 2/28/12] Romney’s narrow victory in Tuesday’s Michigan primary may represent a Battle-of-the-Bulge moment in which he has tipped the balance of the fight by demonstrating the ability to amass a slightly broader coalition than his principal rival, National Journal’s Ron Brownstein writes.
Romney’s Next Challenge: Don’t ‘Win Himself to Death’
[National Journal, 2/28/12] Tuesday's results put Romney a large step closer to the nomination, but he still has Super Tuesday and, perhaps, several more contests ahead in the GOP nomination fight – so many chances for missteps, National Journal’s Ron Fournier writes.
How to Beat Obama NEW!
[Foreign Policy, March/April 2012] Former Bush Advisors Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie offer their take on how to beat obama in next month's Foreign Policy. Though it's commonly said that Obama's foreign policy has been one of his strongest points, Rove and Gillespie say it could be his achilles heel in 2012.
Santorum Campaign: Michigan Delegate Win Still Possible
[National Journal, 2/29/12] A Santorum spokeswoman said the delegate distribution in Michigan has not yet been decided and that the former Pennsylvania senator still has the opportunity to win, even if Romney has the most votes. But even if he doesn’t win, Santorum said Wednesday that the close race proved he can "do a lot on a little."
The Santorum Delegate Talk Makes Perfect Sense
[Slate, 2/29/12] Dave Weigel argues that Santorum's talk about winning (or nearly winning) the delegate count in Michigan is not loser-talk. He also takes a quick look at all the Super Tuesday contests (and Washington) and notes that they favor Santorum, since most award delegates proportionately.
Interactive Map: Primary Election Results by Congressional District
[Detroit News, 2/28/12] A highly useful interactive map tells the tale of the Michigan primary.
What Mitt Lost While He Won
[New York Times, 2/29/12] Thanks to the voters of Michigan, Romney’s path to the nomination is as wide open as ever, writes columnist Ross Douthat. But after verbal miscues and clumsy attempts to defend his right flank on policy, his path to the White House has narrowed considerably.
Shooting a RINO NEW!
[The American Spectator, 2/29/12] Romney's wins Tuesday night didn't solve any of his problems, they just prevented him from acquiring new ones. George Neumayr writes at the American Spectator that Romney's problems – his bland centrist views and his inability to rally any part of the GOP – will continue to trail him for the rest of the race.
Michigan Voters Reveal Romney’s Strengths and Weaknesses
[Washington Post, 2/28/12] Romney performed well among declared Republicans, voters with incomes above $100,000 a year, those whose top concern was the economy and those keen on beating Obama in the fall. But he fared worse among “very conservative” voters, evangelicals and tea partiers.
Paul Campaign Airing Ads in Vermont, Washington State
[National Journal, 2/29/12] Ron Paul's campaign on Wednesday announced details of its Super Tuesday and pre-Super Tuesday ad buys, with one spot that harshly attacks all of his remaining GOP rivals.
In Ohio, Romney Gets Back to Attacking Obama
[National Journal, 2/29/12] After a bruising few weeks of having to focus on Santorum, Romney on Wednesday redirected his attention back to criticizing President Obama’s stewardship of the economy. Meanwhile, Santorum also aimed scathing criticism at the president in his concession speech after Tuesday night’s primaries.
Romney Wins Michigan. Why So Surprised?
[National Journal, 2/29/12] Romney’s weaknesses, and the abundance of over-analysis incited by this painfully unpredictable primary season, distract us from the distinct advantages he has in this race – and in this case, from those he had in Michigan. National Journal’s Tim Alberta weighs in.
Why Santorum’s Michigan Loss Could Be Worse Than It Seems
[Talking Points Memo, 2/28/12] While Santorum supporters are trying to spin his close loss in Michigan as a win, TPM notes that his extremely conservative rhetoric might damage him in future contests, as he’ll have a hard time picking up independents and moderate Republicans.
Romney Faces Stubborn Questions, Despite Victories
[New York Times, 2/28/12] Romney leaves Michigan facing the same stubborn question: Can a onetime Northeastern governor with a history of ideological migration win the GOP nomination in the era of the tea party, with its demands of political purity and passion?
In Ohio, Fierce Primary Fight May Hurt GOP’s Chances in the Fall
[Washington Post, 2/28/12] No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, one of the states holding its primary on Super Tuesday. The challenge for the GOP candidates is to win the state’s March 6 primary without turning off voters they’ll need to carry the state in the fall.
Column: Romney Dodges Dad's Curse
[Detroit News, 2/29/12] Nolan Finley notes that Romney’s win comes 44 years to the day that his father, George, dropped his bid for president, but says Michigan proves that the campaign will continue to lurch forward as an intensely nasty and angry affair.
Extended Race Forces Romney to Search for Funds
[Wall Street Journal, 2/29/12] Romney is facing a problem he didn’t expect to confront at this point in the campaign: finding enough money to pay for an extended slog to the GOP presidential nomination. But his fund-raising team says the campaign has seen an uptick in donations recently from two sets of donors.
Gingrich Campaigns in the South as a Visionary
[Los Angeles Times, 2/28/12] Gingrich has dropped to a distant third in national polls, but he isn’t giving up yet. He and his wife, Callista, set off Tuesday on a two-day bus tour of Georgia, the biggest prize of the Super Tuesday contests that are shaping up as a crucible for Gingrich’s candidacy.
On Immigration and Autos, GOP Candidates Collide With GOP Voters NEW!
[National Journal, 2/29/12] Over a third of voters in Arizona's GOP primary believe the U.S. should offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a position counter to both Santorum and Romney's views on the issue. And in Michigan, 44 percent of GOP primary voters supported the auto bailout, which Romney infamously derided