Must Win Tuesday Looking Better For Romney

Rich Galen

2/27/2012 12:10:00 PM - Rich Galen

We haven't had any election activity since February 7 when Rick Santorum led the pack in the popular votes in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado.

That led to a Perry-like, Cain-like, Gingrich-like spike in the polls for Rick Santorum who, in the ensuing three weeks, built a double-digit lead ahead of Mitt Romney in the Gallup national tracking poll, a double-digit lead in some of the polls in Michigan, and closed the gap to low single digits against Romney in Arizona.

That, in turn, led to 37 billion words being written about the possibility of a brokered convention largely because there was nothing else to write about.

Then came the debate in Arizona last week and, although I didn't think Santorum stunk out the place, I did think he was below par. Everyone else apparently thought he stunk out the joint because since that debate five days ago Santorum's leads in the Gallup poll has completely disappeared - in Sunday afternoon's report Romney was leading 31-29. Gingrich and Paul are battling for third at 15 percent to 11 percent respectively.

The Romney campaign has made it clear they think the next debate in which Mitt Romney will participate will be against President Barack Obama in the Fall. I'm not certain that will be the case, but given the enormous impact debates have had on this primary election cycle, that would appear to be a pretty good plan.

Rick Perry wishes Romney had zeroed out the debate schedule sometime immediately following the Ames, Iowa debate last August - the debate just before Perry joined the race.

Alas …

As of last night, in the two most recent polls in Michigan Romney was leading Santorum +6 in one and +3 in the other. Not overwhelming but a far cry from trailing Santorum by about 10 points just 12 days ago.

In Arizona, the closest Santorum has been to Romney was -5.5 (37.5-32) on February 20. As of last night of the four polls taken in the past week Romney leads by double digits in three and leads by four in the other. There is at least one poll which shows that among early voters in Arizona Romney has a 30-point lead so the Grand Canyon State may be essentially off the table.

Polls, as we have been made all too aware, are not predictive so there is no guarantee that Romney will win both of the primary elections tomorrow night, but as in any poll it's better to be slightly ahead than slightly behind.

After Tuesday, all eyes will turn to Washington State which holds its Presidential preference caucuses on Saturday March 3. Washington does not register by party so, according to the Washington GOP's web page:

To participate in the caucus, you need to be registered to vote, and be willing to sign a form that you "consider yourself to be a republican" and you will not be participating in any other parties nominating caucus this year.

The most recent poll taken over a week ago had Santorum well ahead, but we'll see if Tuesday's results have any impact there.

Then comes the big prize of the Spring season: Super Tuesday on March 6.

Super Tuesday is somewhat less super than it has been in cycles past; ten states will be holding elections. Four years ago 21 states held their primaries on Super Tuesday.

Before everyone starts that "brokered convention" business up again if Romney doesn't sweep, in 2008 John McCain won only nine of those contests, yet he went on to be the nominee: In addition to McCain's nine on Super Tuesday, Romney won seven, and Mike Huckabee won five.

You may remember the GOP convention four years ago was not brokered.

The ten states in question (and we will go over this again before March 6) are: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

Given the fickle nature of GOP voters this year, Romney's fate on Super Tuesday may be sealed on Must-Win Tuesday tomorrow night.