Richard Murdock tweets about the GOP Race a reminder of the high stakes in Michigan for Mitt Romney:
From distance, Santorum doing great. Values really do count in America, and not sneered at as in parts of Europe. Win Michigan game over.
Of course, Santorum’s first declaration on Iowa Caucus night was, “Game on!” But will losing Michigan mean game over for the Romney campaign?
From a technical stance, no. Romney may be burning through money at an unsustainable rate and may be running out of rich people he can tap at $2500 a pop but Romney has his millions he can spend, but will he? 2008 suggests that the Romney family is not likely to spend hard-earned millions on a campaign to nowhere.
In theory, Romney could lose on Tuesday, get shellacked everywhere the whole month of March and then start winning big winner-take-all liberal states like New York to close the gaps. Certainly, no one will leave the month of March with the majority o f delegates.
But as Democrats (who have been using proportional delegates) for far longer than we have have shown, that’s not the point. John Kerry and Al Gore’s nomination was assured by the withdrawal of all serious opposition long before they amassed the required delegates. Even when you’re a long way from collecting the necessary delegates, there reaches a point when realists read the writing on the wall and accept the truth of the old proverb. “When you reach the last page, close the book.” Michigan is must win for Romney. He’ll sputter into Super Tuesday and lose 6-7 of 10 States (note: Wyoming starts it caucuses on that day, but there’s no straw vote, so no way to determine who “won” Wyoming.)
While some polls indicate Romney picking up ground in Michigan in recent days, he’s also been losing ground in Arizona. This points to a bigger problem for Romney. As more and more conservatives have been moving towards Santorum with Gallup showing a 10-point lead the last couple of days confirming early national polls from Rasmussen and PPP that showed a double digit lead for Santorum, the default opinion of many conservatives have been not for Romney. The position a frontrunner should be in is that he is the default leader and that all other candidates must march upwards to catch him. Instead, Romney finds himself playing catch up. Can he spend the time and money needed to gain in Michigan without losing Arizona. Arizona and Michigan, like Nevada, Florida, and New Hampshire are states that Romney has heavily invested himself in for the past five years, both in time and money. Starting on March 3rd in Washington, Romney will (with the exception of Massachusetts) be on virgin soil where his investment in time and money has been minimal.
If he wins Michigan (without losing Arizona), he’ll have some momentum to grab more than his expected wins in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Virginia and be able to compete long term with a chance to rap things up in April. If he loses Michigan or wins Michigan but loses Arizona in the process, it will be game over whether Romney realizes it or not.