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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Santorum and Romney in Michigan

At The Holland Sentinel, Lloyd Green writes:
A Santorum upset in Michigan would be huge. Romney did not just win the Michigan primary four years ago. His father was Michigan’s governor and headed up American Motors. Romney grew up in Bloomfield Hills and attended Cranbrook. Not surprisingly, Romney strongest support is in Oakland County, according to polls.
Santorum looks like he is connecting with Catholic voters who make up 30 percent of the Michigan GOP primary vote and with evangelical voters who cast nearly 40 percent of primary votes in 2008.
Going negative on Santorum will not necessarily help Romney. Santorum is not Newt Gingrich and he poses a smaller target for attacks.
Right now, Santorum is buoyed by high favorable ratings and is riding the wave of the culture wars moving to the campaign foreground.
The Obama administration’s family planning mandate on religiously affiliated hospitals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling on same-sex marriage in California is catnip for Santorum. He has consistently targeted values voters.
Romney appears uncomfortable handling this cultural tsunami. His attempts to address social issues are complicated by his prior stances.
But Romney’s perceived inability to connect is not just about religion or culture. Up until now, Romney has not viscerally demonstrated that he “gets” popular concerns and fears. Working- and middle-class America is at the heart of the Republican Party. In 2008, white working-class voters favored John McCain by 19 points. Unemployment remains above 8 percent nationally and is 9.3 percent in Michigan.
Romney may be hamstrung by his demeanor, record and proposals. He has not sufficiently addressed the concerns of the GOP’s base, other than to say that he will grow the economy or claim that he is “severely conservative.”