(Providence, Rhode Island)
There’s a lull in the Presidential campaign, but it’s about to kick into high gear again. February 28 marks the Arizona and Michigan primaries, with Washington on March 3, followed by the ten-state Super Tuesday on March 6. Here are some things to look out for:
“A Flat Tire” – If Mitt Romney loses in his home state of Michigan on February 28, I think his campaign may be over. His dad George ran American Motors in Michigan and was later Governor. While Mitt moved away and claims other states as home, the Romney name is synonymous with Michigan and its bellwether auto industry. Yes, he might still be in the delegate lead even if he loses the Michigan primary, but the psychological blow could be fatal.
“Blue Collar Catholics” – Right now Rick Santorum is up in the polls over Romney in Michigan, 34 to 30 percent. Just as he has in Pennsylvania, Santorum has a strong appeal among blue collar union workers, especially Catholics. That’s how he won a seat in Congress as a Republican running in a solidly Democratic district in Pittsburgh. Keep in mind that Ohio votes one week after Michigan; and if Santorum wins in both states, look out!
“Return of the ‘Reagan Democrats’” – Santorum has really struck a nerve with blue collar workers by telling the story of his grandfather coming home from the coal mines. There is a bond there that Romney, President Obama and the rest just can’t touch. In 1980 and 1984, Ronald Reagan had landslide Presidential wins in the rust belt with support from a group of disaffected blue collar union workers who didn’t care much for Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale. They called themselves the “Reagan Democrats,” and a new generation of them may be emerging.
“White House Worries” – I was on a radio show this week, and the host and callers could see Santorum's winning the nomination, but can’t fathom his beating President Obama. We know that the White House has been concerned mostly about Romney and has planned its strategy accordingly. But is Santorum more of a threat? If a lot of the above-mentioned possibilities materialize, one can conceive of Santorum's winning key industrial states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, in November. A lot of conventional wisdom says Romney can’t win those states. This must be weighing more heavily on the White House these days, with unemployment much higher in these states than the national average.
“Calling King Solomon” – Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. For the Republicans to choose a conservative nominee, one thing has to happen. Either Santorum or Newt Gingrich must drop out. In many of the primaries so far, they have simply split the conservative vote in half. If they truly want to beat Romney, someone has to go. The problem is, each is ahead in some of the Super Tuesday polling, so it’s an awkward dance over who gets out. Something tells me Gingrich is on the verge of his “Third Act” and may have another comeback up his sleeve. Stay tuned!
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