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Last I looked at these two Republican Presidential primaries, the first primaries since Florida and the first binding races since Nevada, I called it Mittmentum.
I was right about Arizona. Michigan though has remained complicated.
Both in my opinion and in technical delegate math, these primaries are important. Arizona’s 29 statewide winner-take-all delegates (Source: RCP, the most indispensable site on the Internet) represent more than half of what Rick Santorum has won, even if you count his non-binding caucus haul of 44 delegates from Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, and Maine.
Michigan has 30 delegates at stake, but those are awarded in a complicated hybrid of WTA statewide, WTA by Congressional district, and proportional statewide allocations. So as a result, the winner in Arizona is almost certain to be the overall winner tonight.
So let’s look at Arizona first. I called it Mittmentum when We Ask America hinted that Romney was recovering from the mid-month polling, back when Santorum pulling within single digits. That was true. Some had been critical of We Ask America, but subsequent polling by PPP, Rasmussen Reports, and NBC News/Marist College confirmed the trend.
The Arizona polling is rather stable. Romney has a band of 42-43 for a median support level of 42.5. Santorum has a band of 26-29 for a median of 27.5. That 15 point gap is unlikely to be made up this week. It’s possible, but it would be the biggest upset of the cycle to date, I believe.
So Romney will almost certainly be the delegate winner tonight. The Hybrid system makes it nearly impossible for Santorum to win all 30 delegates, and in fact the scattered delegate apportionment would seem to resist underdog-friendly strategies. Santorum must win Michigan statewide in order to keep Romney from having a very good night.
He might have trouble. We Ask America, Rasmussen, and Mitchell Research and Communications all award slim leads to Romney. Only PPP has Santorum on top. Very close polling though: Romney has a band of 37-38 for a median of 37.5. Santorum shows a range of 33-38, with We Ask America looking to be an outlier there, as it put Santorum at 33 but everyone else had him at 36-38.
If we include We Ask America, Romney looks to have a 2 point lead. Otherwise, it’s tied in my estimate. And again, a tie in Michigan means Arizona decides who wins the night.