My early analysis of the Michigan race had it going for Santorum, despite the fact that if you took an average of the half dozen or so most-recent polls, Romney was up by about a point and a half. This was based largely on the news that the Duggar family had made its way to Michigan to support Santorum. Had they only registered to vote in the state, the family would have represented a significant voting bloc that no doubt could have put Santorum over the top. Of Jim Bob and Michelle’s 22,875 children, many are of voting age. But no matter. The election is over now, and Romney pulled it off in the squeaker that the polls predicted. Arizona went for Romney as expected.
One thing that gets lost in the Michigan win as all the punditry talk about Santorum failing to “put Michigan in his column” and whatnot is the fact that Michigan is a hybrid primary that awards delegates based on proportion of popular vote. Thus, while Romney won, he only collected 15 delegates to Santorum’s … 15. It was, essentially, a tie. Romney’s win in Arizona, which is a traditional, winner-take-all primary, is far more significant, giving the Mexican-American presidential candidate the full 29 delegates.
Another thing about proportional primaries that has been overlooked is the make-up of Super Tuesday elections. Next Tuesday, voters in Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Idaho, Alaska and Vermont all head to the voting booth to cast their ballots. Significantly, every single one of these elections is a proportional or hybrid primary, meaning that the second place finisher can expect at least a few delegates. That is bad news for the Santorum and Gingrich campaigns. Gingrich is ahead in his home state of Georgia, and Santorum is ahead in the delegate-rich state of Ohio. But each of these victories will be by no more than 10 points or so, probably less, which means Romney still picks up a significant portion of delegates in these races. By the end of next Tuesday, even if he hasn’t won a single contest outright, Romney can be assured of coming in second place in nearly all of them. As a result, he’ll stack up delegates regardless of outright victory, increasing an already huge lead over his competitors. The fourth candidate, Ron Paul, is playing for influence at this point. He can’t win the nomination, so he’ll stack up as many delegates as he can and, in the event that Romney doesn’t quite get over the top, Paul can dictate terms in a brokered convention. By that time, the Romney campaign will be far more apt to deal with Paul than the two lampreys that have been sucking the lifeblood from the Romney campaign for months. It’s no coincidence that Paul took apart Santorum in the last debate but largely left Romney alone, and has been running attack ads against Santorum in Michigan.
“The coordination that I felt at that debate was pretty clear,” Santorum said after the final debate. “I felt like messages were being slipped behind my chair.”
But no sympathy for Santorum, for several reasons. First off, the man is a colossal asshole who deserves everything he gets. Whether its berating the president for suggesting that everyone go to some sort of post-high school education, comparing gay marriage to bestiality, worming his way into a woman’s private health decisions, or sitting back and doing nothing while on the board of a hospital chain that saw breathtaking abuse of minors in its custody, you can always depend on Santorum to be sanctimonious from the pulpit, but slimy behind closed doors. In a profession filled with hypocrisy, Santorum rises above the pack. He deserves everything he gets.
Second, Santorum should’ve bloody well known better. Paul’s presidential campaign playing rope-a-dope with the Republican primary frontrunner’s closest competition is practically a given. That Santorum has been so effectively abused by a Romney-Paul tag team shows that, for all of his eel-like tendency to dwell among the bottom feeders, Rick Santorum is not very good at the actual political art of getting elected. If you’re going to be a colossal asshole, you better at least be a colossal asshole who wins. Just ask George Bush.