5 Things to Know About the Michigan Primary

Election '16

So, you've been having trouble following all the ins and out? We'll make it simple.

1. Who is ahead?

Mitt Romney's ahead. No, Rick Santorum. No, Romney. Too close to call. No, it's Romney.

Glad we were able to clear that up for you. But the voters will decide, and that's this Tuesday.

2. What's the opposite of momentum? 

Both Santorum (the debate) and Romney (The Speech) have their skills at putting their campaign into reverse gear. For a while, I thought John McCain's lime green speech would win the Oscar for "the worst craftsmanship in a Presidential race" category, but Romney may well prove me wrong.

Not only did he have an empty stadium to go along with him being an empty suit, his line about his wife driving "a couple of Cadillacs, actually" was well meant but awfully delivered. And don't get me started about the trees being the right height. Romney's just an awful campaigner, and there's nothing his handlers can do about it.

3. Campaign organization and money do matter.

There's no better example than Romney banking early votes in Florida, Michigan and now winner-take-all Arizona (Michigan will divide its delegates). When you run up a lead, it's hard for the surging challenger to catch up.

4. This was a bad week for Republicans.

They got hammered on their focus on social issues and all-male panels debating women's health and contraception availability. Santorum got hit from that aspect, but also the right as Romney trapped him into making his election hinge on an Arlen Specter endorsement and voting for No Child Left Behind. This is all code for supporting the Bush agenda, which Santorum did (hence his "team player" defense.)

It won't work, Rick. Everyone hates George W. Bush, including your side, and especially tea party voters on your side, who feel betrayed by his government spending and the compassionate side of compassionate conservatism. That's why Jeb Bush had to weigh in on how wacko the Republican Party has become:

I used to be a conservative, and I watch these debates, and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective, and that’s kind of where we are.

In fact, it's been enough to completely upend the conventional wisdom. Charlie Cook's column on this will have resonance well beyond this week:

Simply put, the passion and energy of the Republican Party today may well fail to produce a nominee with a decent chance of winning in November. My assumption was that Romney would be the nominee and would make a good run. Now, I have begun to doubt both propositions. His odds of winning the nomination are growing longer. And even if he does, he has twisted and turned himself into a human pretzel. I’m not sure how electable he is. The alternatives, however, seem even less so.

Nowhere is that better seen than Michigan.

5. No matter. Obama wins Michigan.

Michigan is not a swing state, especially with Mitt "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" Romney as the nominee.

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