It’s a strange pot of politics brewing in Michigan. Per Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling group, Michigan has Rick Santorum up by 15 on Mitt Romney (pdf), with 2 weeks to the primary, and 8 days to the first debate in almost a month (since January 26th, 2011).
Inside the numbers, it cancels out the narrative for Dems to use Ron Paul, when voting for Rick on top of actual conservative votes already for Rick would really spell disaster for establishment GOPers. I’m not saying to do it, but if there’s a statement to show MIGOP how in-the-tank they’ve been…
First up, area codes. In dividing up the respondents by their residence, Rick Santorum looks strong in any area code that doesn’t have a large city tied to it. In the 248 area code, for example, Romney owns a strong lead with the affluent OC, while Santorum seems to play well with all area codes without large cities attached. Most Romney voters are committed, but at the same time, there is no upward mobility if he runs into more people who question his conservative bona fides. Santorum has a lot of potential, and the next debate is mandatory to keep the enthusiasm going. Another tidbit to consider is the 586 area code which has a high volatility in commitment to a candidate. Over 70% of the respondents may switch it up, and I’m expecting Santorum to push the working-class roots to pick their votes up.
Second, support among Michiganders tells a real tale about what and who we might call our own. PPP asked if Romney was a Michigander, and 26% said yes.
62% said no.
Ouch. With all the media trying to tell people that Romney actually lived in Michigan, the people don’t seem to buy it, as any favorite son of Michigan would’ve moved home like Kid Rock or Eminem, and not to the family estate in Belmont, MA.
Third, favorability. Romney is really in a pickle, with a 49/39 favorable/unfavorable, while Santorum has a clear advantage with 67/23. Newt is 38/47, and Ron Paul is the real burr in the saddle, with 32/51 among respondents. I think folks should pay attention to this number as the primary day approaches. If the debate doesn’t affect Romney’s favorability ratings, we’ll see Rick Santorum taking the state.
Fourth, Unions. I know, it’s strange to ask about unions for a GOP primary, but PPP asked the question, and there is something to retain with responses. While only 25% of the respondents were union, the breakdown by candidate seems to mirror how each candidate would work with unions in general:
Rick Santorum 38%
Mitt Romney 24%
Newt Gingrich 14%
Ron Paul 8%
If your decision comes from attitude to unions, maybe a guide for the candidate unions definitely don’t support. And for Rick Santorum, this open primary could be the crossover vote he needs to boot Romney.
In terms of bounce, Rick Santorum seems to have it all. You rarely see a bounce this massive, or holding longer than it should. The Feb. 22nd debate in Arizona should be the last chance for both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich to change their positions going into Super Tuesday.
March 1st, 2012 is the Super Tuesday debate, two days after Michigan and Arizona. MSNBC cancelled the March 5th, 2012 debate (Super Tuesday Eve). That leaves 2 debates between now and Super Tuesday.
If Newt Gingrich wants a time to really screw up Romney’s flow, it’s to withdraw on March 1st, and throw all of his support to Rick Santorum. Granted, I don’t think Newt’s ego will allow such a selfless act, but just mentioning it, because the PPP poll also showed something about the race without Newt.
With 11% of the vote right now, Newt’s withdrawal would shift Rick Santorum’s vote from 39% to 48%. It’s a 9-point jump for Rick from 11 points total. To say it another way, maybe with a little sales pitch:
If Newt drops out before Michigan, Rick Santorum would gain 81.2% of all of Newt’s voters.
Oh my. Mako out.