10.59 pm. Silver's delegate projection: Santorum gets from five to ten in Michigan. Not enough to stall Romney's minuscule momentum. My major take-away is that Romney's failure to win white blue collar voters and evangelicals will be a big problem next Tuesday. He survived tonight. Just. On tonight's showing, he may not next week.
10.52 pm. Allahpundit concludes:
Looks like Mitt will win by roughly five points. Realistically, given the recent polling, that’s the best possible result he could have hoped for tonight, good enough to blunt the media’s attempts to spin this as a moral victory for RS even if Mitt did need to outspend Santorum by two to one or so just to hold his home state.
I think that's almost right – except the current gap is only 3 points, with close to 90 percent of the vote now in. Romney staggers on, therefore, without resolving any of his fundamental weaknesses. What Santorum represents – the hard edge of Christianism – remains a solid bloc that the Mormon Romney may be able to overcome by a long, hard slog in the primary, but will need to go very, very negative in the fall to bring out against Obama.
Not a pretty prospect.
10. 47 pm. A reader writes:
When you ask, somewhat rhetorically, if the resistance to Romney among evangelicals has anything to do with religion, it seems fair to put the spotlight on those of the Mormon faith as well. The numbers suggests that they're simply voting based on religion and little else. Although this is certainly their right, would we be as comfortable if a demographically dominant constituency, like Catholics as a whole, put forth such a lopsided voting margin against Romney in a Romney v. Obama matchup? And if we observed such an outcome in the national election, do those of the Mormon faith have a basis for complaint? Would such an outcome be cause for concern in our democracy and our society?
This is somewhat related to conservatives' occasional, hushed (except for Hannity) complaints about the heavy African American margin in favor of Obama. I'm not in search of a "solution" to this, but I am becoming somewhat uncomfortable about the extent of tribalism (for lack of a better word) that is forming around this upcoming election.
10.43 pm. I wish I could think of something to say about Romney's pedestrian acceptance speech. One new line that might work: "We need a recovery from this so-called recovery." The rest is pabulum that could have been said at any point since the 1980s. More tax cuts and no more debt. Yeah, right. And lies, lies, lies. Obama thinks he is "unchecked by the Constitution"? That was his predecessor, right?
10.34 pm. From the Santorum inside, a report. Money quote:
Santorum isn’t walking back his “snob” comment about the president. In fact, Brabender says, “Super Tuesday” voters can expect to hear a continuation of that theme. But he acknowledges that his candidate does not always pick a perfect phrase, and that Santorum will probably not overuse that line. “When everything you say is not poll tested, not from a TelePrompTer, there will be times when you probably don’t pick the best words,” he says. Still, “the message should not be lost in the process,” he says. “What we’re willing to do is have a candidate who comes across as genuine, who is willing to speak his mind. There’s an authenticity to that.”
10.30 pm. Santorum seems to think there was no parliament or representative democracy in Britain when the American colonies revolted. He seems not to realize that the Revolutionaries were demanding the same representation as native British aristocrats! But, hey, maybe that's my dual loyalty speaking. Or a quaint concern for, you know, reality.
10.26 pm. Why Santorum began by invoking his Catholic mother, wife and daughter:
There's very little gender gap in MI between Santorum and Romney overall except Catholic women for Romney.
10.20 pm. Fox calls it for Romney. He's winning Oakland county by a huge 51 – 29 margin.
10.16 pm. Santorum is now telling us that his grandmother went to college. I guess he knows he stepped in it – especially with women. Now he's talking up his wife and daughter, as role models.
And his walkback of his puke over JFK also reveals he is not completely clueless with respect to his fellow Catholics. But his hard turn toward theo-politics and class warfare was not crazy. It's how he won the Christianist base. He needs the crazy slightly more than he needs the crazy walkback right now.
10.15 pm. The brown is spreading across Michigan on the infographic maps, but this won't be the bog-blaster that would have set the race into total meltdown. Just continued, slow meltdown.
10.10 pm. There's a clear enthusiasm problem:
Less than half of voters in the Republican primary said they strongly favored their own candidate, while 52% had reservations or disliked the other candidate more, according to the exit poll data.
10.05 pm. The black percentage of the Arizona Republican vote? Zero percent.
Among Hispanics, Romney wins but with only 35 percent of the vote – around twelve points lower than his score as a whole. Not a good sign for the general election, I'd say.
10.03 pm. The Paul problem:
Of the 11% who said they would only vote GOP in November if their candidate won, 40% are Paul supporters.
10.02 pm. Geraghty does some delegate math:
[W]hile the storyline may very well be a tough defeat or too-close-for-comfort win for Mitt Romney – at this moment, he leads, 41 percent to 39 percent with 19 percent of precincts reporting – he will end the night with about 43 delegates, and Santorum will probably get, best case scenario, 16 delegates.
9.50 pm. The see-saw timing of this primary season is also in the exit polls. In January, Romney was kicking it. Then Santorum surges among those who decided earlier this month – and in the last few days. But among those who decided today, Romney won 38 – 31 percent. There was a today-only effect in which many Republicans – not Dems or Independents – gulped and backed Romney.
My basic view: this will be Romney's night but with an obviously awful drag. He hasn't solved the evangelical problem and he hasn't solved the white working class problem. If you're a partisan Republican, he was still the best bet on economic issues and electability. But not convincingly enough.
9.45 pm. Michigan's sectarian results mirror Arizona's. Evangelicals backed Santorum over Romney by a whopping 50 – 35 percent. Catholics, meanwhile, are not Santorum's constituency; they voted 43 – 37 for Romney, the Mormon. If the GOP were still wealthy, mainline Protestant, Catholic and Mormon, Romney would be walking it. But the evangelicals cannot digest him. Neither can the white working class. I can't see how he can win the nomination without securing those two groups.
Those who want a candidate to share their religious beliefs, 62 percent went for Santorum, with only 20 percent for Romney. Evangelicals are backing the Benedict XVI candidate – because Christianists and theocons share political theology. And for them, there is no kind of theology.
9.41 pm. Class war! Santorum wins every segment under $100,000 household income; Romney wins the richer. Santorum wins easily among union members.
Romney's core support is among the elderly. Sing us some more "America The Beautiful!"
9.40 pm. The under-30s go for Ron Paul again in Michigan. Meanwhile, 2 percent of the vote was black. 92 percent was white. That's the GOP we have come to know these past few years.
9.35 pm. The power of brown: Slog notes how Fox and the NYT are, er, sticking with their infographic color for Santorum.
9.32 pm. In Arizona, Santorum wins among evangelical Christians, 38 – 33 percent. Romney beats Santorum among Mormons by 91 – 2. Does anyone think the resistance to Romney among evangelicals has nothing to do with religion? Santorum is also crushing Romney in the more evangelical counties in Western Michigan.
9.30 pm. Allahpundit sighs, even as Romney seems likely to hang on in Michigan:
[W]hat, if anything, could convince Romney to drop out? If he underperforms on Super Tuesday, would that do it? What about the primaries after that? I find myself wondering more and more why he’s so determined to win when he receives so much negative feedback at every turn. He has few passionate supporters and many passionate detractors; he has no big cause or grand issue that animates him; his victories are owed chiefly to carpet-bombing his rivals with negative ads rather than stirring up enthusiasm for his candidacy. It’s almost a test of wills with the base, or some sort of exceptionally complex organizational problem he’s determined to solve. Is Mitt so skillful a manager that he can propel a candidacy built on virtually nothing to the Republican nomination despite resolute opposition from activists?
9.25 pm. With Romney's stronger counties yet to report, and his holding a 3 point lead, it looks as if Santorum's strong showing in the rural areas won't be enough to get him a win. That's Rove's view. The data increasingly backs him up.
9.20 pm. I can see why the networks are so cagey about the exit poll results. The early results show Romney kicking it in Wayne County and doing okay in Oakland. It looks close. Silver notes:
Those results, however, are probably somewhat behind the pace Romney would need to carry the whole state.
9.15 pm. With a quarter of the vote in: Romney's squeaking ahead by 41 – 38.
9.10 pm. The Romney name hasn't worked lately in Michigan politics, according to a local political pro.
9.02 pm. Romney wins Arizona easily. That was expected, but it's not nothing. It means he will win the bulk of the delegates at stake tonight.
9.01 pm. A reader writes:
I have been emailing you every week or so throughout the primary. I chided you any time you even hinted that Romney would not be the eventual nominee. Hell at one point I all but told you there was no reason to cover the primary whatsoever, aside from the entertainment aspect. But right now, at 8:58 pm on Tuesday, February 28th, put me down as "I haven't a clue what's going to happen."
9 pm. A reader notes I misread (8.41 pm) Silver's sentence. The early results may not be necessarily good news for Santorum.
8.58 pm. A good day for Obama – apart from the Michigan road-wreck: the Dow finishes over 13,000 and Snowe says she's outta here.
8.55 pm. So far, twice as many Dems have voted in the GOP primary as in the Democratic one.
8.50 pm. Wolf Blitzer sounds literally like a horse-race announcer. We'll get a major exit poll dump any minute now. Gardez l'eau! It looks to me, with the current data, Democratic support, and low turnout that Santorum could have won this one.
8.48 pm. Romney outspent Santorum 2 -1 in Michigan. Not long ago, in other primaries, it was 20 – 1.
8.45 pm. The man who lost Michigan last time around to Romney sounds pretty bleak about this campaign:
"This is like watching a Greek tragedy. It’s the negative campaigning and the increasingly personal attacks … it should have stopped long ago. Any utility from the debates has been exhausted, and now it’s just exchanging cheap shots and personal shots followed by super PAC attacks."
8.41 pm. Silver sees that the neck-and-neck results so far are coming from the Detroit suburbs: where Romney should be crushing it. He isn't:
[Santorum] leads in 8 of the 11 counties that have reported results from outside Metro Detroit so far, including a slight lead in Huron County, which has reported about half its vote so far and which Mitt Romney won in 2008.
8.40 pm. Mark Blumenthal notes that a more conservative electorate in Michigan is not good news for Romney:
The New York Times reports via Twitter, for example, that "6 in 10" voters in the Michigan primary "say they're conservative; 3 in 10 say they're very conservative." If that result holds up, it suggests a slightly more conservative electorate than the exit poll found four years ago. In 2008, 56 percent of Michigan's Republican primary voters identified as conservative and 24 percent said they were very conservative. As the Washington Post reported earlier Tuesday, strong conservatives have been Mitt Romney's toughest group throughout the early primary and caucus states.
The combined anti-Romney air barrage from the Obama campaign, its Super PAC, and MoveOn kept Romney from running away with Michigan, and made it close enough that crossover voting—prodded by the Michigan Democratic Party, Michael Moore, various local unions, and us—might deliver Santorum the victory.
8.25 pm. Geraghty spills some early numbers:
Upper Peninsula: Romney/Santorum 38% each
Northern Michigan: 43-35% Romney
Flint Saginaw Midland: 42-27% Romney
Metro Detroit: 43-34% Romney
South Central Michigan: 38-34%
Santorum Western Michigan: 48-34% Santorum
Those who voted absentee: Romney 42-39%, Rep 66, Ind 25, Dem 9
Those who have yet to vote: Santorum 38-30%, Rep 43, Ind 38, Dem 19
8.20 pm. Alex Massie zooms out on one of Romney's core problems:
For understandable reasons he is keen to avoid making his candidacy a referendum on Mormonism. But he cannot talk about who he is without talking about Mormonism. And talking about Mormonism makes his candidacy some kind of referendum on Mormonism. So Romney is doomed to be the Man from Nowhere, a candidate without bottom who is, and can only be, defined by his record in office and the wealth he accumulated at Bain. In some elections this might be enough; it may not be on this occasion.
8.18 pm. Inferring from the early exit polls, Phil Klein thinks the Democratic cross-over vote may boost Santorum by 3.5 percent over the last polls. That means he wins. But it's a very rough inference.
8.15 pm. The sectarian pattern, which, alas, now matters in a primary campaign in the GOP:
In Michigan, nearly 4 in 10 primary voters are white Christian evangelicals, according to early exit poll results, and about 3 in 10 are Catholic. Catholic voters made up at least about one-third of voters in both New Hampshire and Florida – and in both of those states, they swung for Mr. Romney.
8.10 pm. I have to say that the rhetoric today seemed more than usually harsh. Santorum called Romney a "bully" and a "joke"; Romney derided Santorumas desperate in its outreach to Democrats. Exit polls suggest that Santorum won 50 percent of the Dems who made up 10 percent of the electorate. They made up 17 percent of the vote in 2000, so the hysterics about cross-party voting should take a chill pill.