Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Michigan Will Be Do or Die for Romney

In the wake of Rick Santorum’s big night yesterday, Mitt Romney might be inclined to tell himself that the Pennsylvanian can’t duplicate those victories elsewhere and that his advantage in money and organization will ultimately enable him to prevail in most states in a race that now looks to be long and hard but still in his pocket. But he should put all such consoling thoughts out of his head. Though Santorum is still weak where Romney is strong, all that could change later this month if he wins in another state where everyone is assuming Romney can’t lose.

Romney needs to approach the next two primaries in Michigan and Arizona as if his hopes for the presidency depend on them, because they do. If Santorum comes out of nowhere to steal either, but especially Michigan from Romney, then not only will there be no more talk of the former Massachusetts governor’s inevitability, but it would be the end of his frontrunner status. Losing his home state would prove that all of Romney’s advantages are worthless and that Santorum’s working class appeal is real. Romney must go to Michigan and fight hard there these next three weeks because if he loses it, he may lose the nomination.

The irony for Romney is that of all the upcoming primaries, Michigan may be the best suited to respond positively to Santorum’s paean to rust belt values. Romney’s inability to connect with both conservatives and ordinary voters has handicapped him throughout the race, but in Michigan, with its depressed economy and dependence on the auto industry, it is as much of a hindrance as in the general election. Michigan, with its high unemployment and working class electorate, provides Santorum with a receptive audience for his own version of class warfare politics.

Colorado, a state where Romney was heavily favored and leading in the polls, is proof the frontrunner’s support is skin deep. Santorum came from behind to win it for a number of reasons, but the biggest of them is Republican voters are starting to respond to his message and to view him as the most likeable candidate left in the race.

If Romney thinks a barrage of negative ads can alter that dynamic, he hasn’t been paying attention. Santorum was thoroughly humanized in a way he had never been by the focus on his daughter’s illness. All of Sheldon Adelson’s money couldn’t buy better publicity for a candidate than Santorum has received from this story because it was not only touching, but it brought out the best side of a politician who has most often been perceived as a dour public scold. If the voters perceive Romney is trying to bury him with attacks, it will only make Santorum look like a victim.

Romney needs to concentrate on his economic expertise and start sounding like he cares about the voters. He has a good story to tell, but if he gets bogged down in negativity at Santorum’s expense, it will do him no good. But whatever he does, he must go all out in Michigan. A loss there to Santorum, something most of us would have thought unimaginable, is not impossible. If it happens, it will fundamentally alter the dynamic of the race and make Santorum’s nomination a more plausible scenario. It will also cause many of those Republicans who flocked to Romney simply because they thought he would win to abandon him. He must win in Michigan or start thinking about going home for real.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Pin It on Pinterest

Shares
Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.