Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney addresses supporters at his Michigan primary night rally in Novi, Michigan, February 28, 2012. (REBECCA COOK/REUTERS/REBECCA COOK/REUTERS)
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney addresses supporters at his Michigan primary night rally in Novi, Michigan, February 28, 2012. (REBECCA COOK/REUTERS/REBECCA COOK/REUTERS)

2012 U.S. ELECTION

Did Romney escape Michigan humiliation or did Santorum blow it? Add to ...

Mitt Romney scored victories in the Arizona and Michigan primaries last night, as the Republican leadership contest moves to the March 6th Super Tuesday contests in which voters in 10 states will cast their ballots and more than 400 delegates are at stake.

But there was no shortage of morning-after analysis from commentators and pundits, trying to make sense of what the wins mean for the overall leadership contest.

More related to this story

“This is far from over,” writes the editorial page editor Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press , describing the Romney campaign in Michigan as “bizarre” and “troubling.”

“Bizarre, in particular, here in Michigan, where Romney’s considerable credentials and native-son status should have made him a heavy favourite. Instead, he was forced into the same position he has found himself in every other contest – clumsily competing to out-conservative another candidate.

“It is troubling because that dynamic in the GOP race, playing out over and over again, is whittling the party’s base to the narrowest of interests and minds, alienating broad swaths of both independent voters and a significant portion of more mainstream or moderate card-carrying Republicans,” Mr. Henderson writes.

In Arizona, there was less to analyze: Mr. Romney had key endorsements from Arizona governor Jan Brewer, the GOP establishment and the support of Arizona Mormons to cruise to victory, according to The Arizona Republic .

Here is a selection of other morning-after analysis:

Maggie Haberman senior political writer POLITICO: “If history is a guide, Romney’s unlikely to get a huge dose of momentum after his win – the clock will essentially reset itself tomorrow heading into Super Tuesday March 6. For him, the election cycle has been win, no bounce, repeat. And he continues to be eyed warily, and without passion, by a significant chunk of the GOP base...

“It’s also a reminder of how much damage Santorum did to himself in the past week, as he dipped into social issues controversies – birth control, John F. Kennedy’s religion speech, and, most notably, calling President Obama a ‘snob’ for promoting college education – something that is generally seen as part of the American dream.

“Santorum, who scored well with evangelical and strongly conservative voters but few other groups (and who wielded a piece of shale in his speech), will get another chance on Super Tuesday, but he is running out of opportunities to be taken seriously as a contender for the nomination.”

Richard Lowry, Fox News contributor and editor of The National Review: “He [Mitt Romney]should now avoid the consequences of a Michigan loss: the desperate pleas for another candidate to get in the race, a major downdraft in fundraising and intense pressure for a campaign shakeup.

“Otherwise, he is slouching toward Tampa in what still projects as a drawn-out slog for delegates.”

John Dickerson Slate magazine chief political correspondent: “In another election season, Romney’s victories in Arizona and Michigan would suggest he has momentum. Perhaps it will this time. It didn’t after he won in New Hampshire or Florida.

“In this race, candidates have shown bursts of speed, but just as someone seems poised to break away, they run out of breath. So the race continues: one runner with emphysema (Santorum), the other with asthma (Romney). For the moment, Romney is back in the lead, lungs open and face rosy. But if past is prologue, he might soon feel a tickle in his throat.”

Philip Klein senior editorial writer Washington Examiner: “It’s important not to overstate or understate the importance of these victories. On the one hand, Romney should have won both states easily, and the fact that it wasn’t clear going into tonight’s race that he’d win Michigan reinforces doubts about the strength of his candidacy going into the general election.

“But on the other hand, he did win in both states, and because Arizona is winner take all, he’ll clearly come away with more delegates tonight. (This, even though Santorum may end up winning more delegates in Michigan despite losing the popular vote, because they’re divided by Congressional district in the state.)

“What could be potentially troubling for Rick Santorum is that even though polls had shown him ahead earlier this month, he ended up losing Republicans in the state by 10 points. That trend may suggest that Romney’s aggressive attacks on Santorum’s record are starting to pay dividends.”

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post’s Right Turn blog: “Despite all the media fascination with the empty seats at Ford Field and the comment about his wife’s Cadillacs, Romney beat expectations and most of the election eve polls. He has temporarily tamed the storyline that he can’t bond with Republican voters...

“As for Santorum, this is a hard lesson that when you decide to ‘plant the flag’ in a state you better stay and win it. It is also a warning that his rhetorical excesses take him even beyond the right of the GOP.

“A Santorum adviser last night conceded his candidate needed to get back to an economic message. But whether Santorum can shed his inflammatory statements and put his Senate voting record in context is another matter.”

Erik Erickson of the conservative Red State blog: “When you have a candidate few people really like, whose support is a mile wide and an inch deep, whose raison d’etre (a 4 a.m. fancy word) is fixing an economy that is fixing itself without him, and who only wins his actual, factual home state by three percentage points against a guy no one took seriously only two months ago, there really is little reason for independent voters in the general election to choose him if the economy keeps improving.

“Seriously, putting it bluntly, conservatives may not like Barack Obama, but most other people do. And when faced with a guy you like and a guy you don’t like who says he can fix an economy that no longer needs fixing, you’re going to go with the guy you like.

“If Republicans in Washington are not panicked and trying desperately to pull [Louisiana governor]Bobby Jindal in the race tomorrow, or someone like him, the party leaders must have a death wish.”

Tim Alberta, Michigan native and editor of Hotline Last Call!, the afternoon newsletter of National Journal Hotline : “He was born there. He grew up there. His siblings still live there. His father was governor. He won the state four years ago. His campaign infrastructure from 2008 was resurrected and revamped.

“His name recognition is high there. He’s long been considered the frontrunner, both nationally and in the state.

“His campaign vastly outspent his competitors there. He had endorsements from the current governor and most of the congressional delegation. And his childhood hero was [Detroit Tigers hall of famer]Al Kaline.

“So why are we surprised that Mitt Romney won Michigan?”

Dan Balz, national political correspondent, Washington Post: “His Michigan comeback – he fell behind Santorum earlier in the month – showed his resilience as a candidate and underscored the advantages he holds in the nomination battle – more money, a superior organization and the ruthlessness to attack anyone in his path.

“Still, his advisers fretted that he would not get enough credit for turning around a campaign that only a week ago had party strategists speculating about the possibility of another candidate getting into the race.

“Yet even in victory, the campaign in Michigan highlighted Romney’s flaws as a candidate. That he had to fight as hard as he did in a state he won four years ago was a reminder that he is still struggling to connect with a portion of his party’s base, even against what party strategists regard as relatively weak opposition.

“While Tuesday reinforced again that he has the clearest path to the nomination, the way he won suggested that he still might have to scratch his way there, which is not how a front-runner is supposed to win.”

Follow on Twitter: @affanchowdhry

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular