Presidential Primary
5:57 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Huh? A vote for Santorum is actually a vote for Gingrich? And, other political junkie theories

Four days. We are now four days away from the state’s super-important, all-encompassing presidential primary (just in case you don’t feel like doing the math – that would be Tuesday). At this point in the campaign, the most recent polls are showing Mitt Romney with a slight advantage over his main rival in the state, Rick Santorum.

Polling galore

“We have a Rasmussen poll that puts Mitt Romney ahead of Rick Santorum – outside of the margin of error – which would be an actual lead,” Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network explains. And, then there’s the new poll by Mitchell Research and Communications which also shows Romney in the lead but this one, “is inside the margin of error… a statistical tie. But, I think perhaps more important than specifically where the numbers are at, it’s what direction we’re seeing the race take,” Pluta notes.

The all-important TREND moving towards Romney

Rather than just looking at one or two polls, political campaigns tend to look at the actual trend of the numbers: are the numbers moving in the direction of one candidate or the other over a certain period of time and what the spread is between the numbers. “A lot of times, a lot of the media focuses on ‘if the election were held today, then this would be the result’ kind of coverage. And, political professionals certainly care about that… but, they care more about what the spread is, what the gap is, between the candidates and what direction everything is taking. And, right now, everything seems to be moving in Mitt Romney’s direction,” Pluta explains.

So, where’s Newt?

Newt Gingrich, who, just a few short weeks ago was seen as Mitt Romney’s main rival for the GOP nomination, has not actively campaigned in the state. “We have confirmed, what we have long suspected: Gingrich is really leaving Michigan to Rick Santorum to chew on Mitt Romney,” Pluta explains.

Wait, what? A vote for Santorum is a vote for Newt?

One political theory racing around Lansing, and gaining momentum, is this: Gingrich leaves Michigan open to play for Santorum, which ends up hurting Romney. Ok, stay with me. Here’s the idea:  Voters who would have voted for Gingrich (but don’t necessarily like the fact that he hasn’t campaigned here), will decide to vote for Santorum.  A vote for Santorum in Michigan’s primary hurts Romney, as the native-son, going into Super-Tuesday. Therefore, Gingrich boosts up Santorum’s momentum in Michigan, Romney falls during Super Tuesday, and suddenly it’s a two-man race – Gingrich vs. Santorum.

“Gingrich has made the case in other states that the anti-Romney conservative vote is actually big enough to defeat Romney… if it would only coalesce behind one candidate and Michigan is the chance for that experiment to be tested,” Pluta explains. This theory would mean that Gingrich would rather end up going against Santorum in a two-candidate race, rather than running against Romney.

The Romney/Paul  Bromance (You read it right: I said ‘bromance’)

Added into this crazy confusion of political theories is Ron Paul. Paul is campaigning this weekend in Michigan but seems to be helping Romney by attacking Santorum. Paul’s only TV ad running right now in the state is a negative ad taking on Santorum. (You’ll want to listen to the link above to hear the audio of the ad).  “If it weren’t for the little disclaimer at the end of the ad – ‘I’m Ron Paul and I approve this message’ -  you wouldn’t even know that this was a Ron Paul ad… a takedown of Rick Santorum. Which begs the question: What is Ron Paul doing in Michigan? Is he running against Santorum and Romney, or is this Ron Paul tour really just an effort to splinter the anti-romney vote?” Pluta wonders. And, don't take our word for it, just last week The New York Times reported on the Romney/Paul friendship.

Election 2012 makes some strange bedfellows

So, with Gingrich out of the picture, hoping, possibly, that his supporters will vote for Santorum and what sure seems like a Romney/Paul alliance… you’ve got some strange political alliances. “A vote for Rick Santorum is really a vote for Newt Gingrich. A vote for Newt Gingrich is actually a vote for Romney and a vote for Ron Paul is also a vote for Romney. However, a vote for Romney is only a vote for Romney,” Pluta explains.

It all, now, makes perfect sense… right? Well, we'll find out... in four days.