Finally, a new Arizona poll. What it means for the GOP primaries on the flip.
For more information, see my diary on the whole GOP race.
Today ARG released an Arizona GOP primary poll:
Arizona Likely Republican Primary Voters Feb 13-14Though Romney and Santorum are not within the MoE, the race has clearly tightened in accordance with the national polls. The reason this is interesting is that Arizona has received scant attention even though it has as many delegates in the RNC as Michigan does.. What's more? Arizona's delegates are winner take all.
Over at The American Prospect, an article today by Patrick Caldwell states that:
The next two states to vote are Arizona and Michigan on February 28. Santorum has largely ceded the first to Romney, but his strategists have said he will make a strong pitch to win Michigan, Romney's home turf. One of Romney's surrogates has already said it would be a "huge embarrassment" if the former Massachusetts governor fails to win the state where he grew up and won by large margins in 2008. But a Public Policy Polling survey over the weekend put Santorum up by 15 points there. In the longer term, Santorum is banking on success in Ohio on Super Tuesday, calculating that a victory in the state—no Republican has become president without winning Ohio—would be enough to squash Gingrich and propel him further ahead of Romney.Santorum has largely ceded Arizona to Romney, so that he can "win" Michigan. Wow. Let's take a look at Michigan's rules for the primaries.
Michigan has 30 total delegates bound for 1 ballot after being penalized 29 delegates. At-large delegates are awarded proportionally to candidates who receive 15% of the vote at least. CD delegates are awarded on a winner-take-all basis.
Arizona, on the other hand, is purely winner-take-all.
So, let's look at the latest Michigan polling. "Mitchell/Rosetta Stone" has Santorum - 34, Romney - 25, Paul - 11, Gingrich - 5, while Rasmussen from yesterday has Santorum - 35, Romney - 32, Paul - 13, Gingrich - 11.
Based on the last poll, Romney and Santorum would split the delegates nearly evenly, perhaps 15-14, give or take based on CD wins. The better poll would have it more like 17-12, a net of only 5 delegates. Even a major Santorum win would only leave him with perhaps a net of 10.
But in Arizona, where he is only down by a few points, pulling out a win would net him 29.
Based on Caldwell's article, Santorum's strategy is to come up big in Ohio on Super Tuesday. But according to a poll from today, he is already leading there by 7 points. Santorum would have to have absolute blow outs in Ohio and Michigan to net +29 delegates, though it he were to get over 50% of the vote, he would win all 15 at-large in Ohio. Still.
Team Santorum is calculating that a win in Arizona versus a loss in Michigan would be penny wise and pound foolish, but it may end up being the other way around. The fundamentals don't favor Mitt on Super Tuesday, where the most delegates are up in the south and mid-west, regions where Romney has not been strong.
At this point, every delegate counts. The best Santorum can hope for is a big Super Tuesday, making it a two-man race. But even if he does that, he will be scrounging for delegates and will have lost 29 in Arizona through a blunder and up to 49 in Virginia due to negligence.