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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 13-14
Gingrich    15%
Paul    11%
Romney    38%
Santorum    31%
Other    *
Undecided    5%
Though 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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

    by Attorney at Arms on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:23:43 AM PST

  •  Thanks Attorney (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GussieFN, HoundDog, mdmslle

    I'm following your diaries.  

    What is Santorum's end game?   The best case scenario I see is him going to the convention trailing, but with momentum.  In that case I still believe the "big money" will force Mitt on the masses.

    Republicans - they measure our national success by corporate profit margin, not the well being of the citizens.

    by egarratt on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:34:04 AM PST

    •  Hmm. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, egarratt

      I think he has to blow out Mitt on Super Tuesday and consolidate opposition to him and then win big the rest of the way or try to get the unbound delegates on the way.

      GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

      by Attorney at Arms on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:36:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think he really has one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but your last sentence is a huge huge win for us because I'm sure that it will keep large segments of the GOP base home in the fall.  That I feel is the best scenario for the Democrats, better than Santorum getting nominated, and better even than a brokered convention with the nomination of Jeb Bush.  

  •  Excellent analysis Attorney at Arms, I agree, and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Attorney at Arms

    probably so will Santorum's camp.  Their decision to triage on Michigan was based on the previous poll giving Romney a 28% advantage, and prior  to their current lead in MI.

    If Santorum were to win both Arizona and Michigan, followe4d by a victory in Ohio it would be a devestating blow to the Romney camp. Just a few weeks ago, Romney's camp were predicting major victories in both AZ and MI, and also saying they were must win states.  

    Even after the CO, MN, MO wins for Santorum, Romney's camp promised their roll-out of the "take-down Santorum" blitz, with themes of Santorums "insider Washington," and "history of supporting earmarks, and big Government" would destroy him quickly.  Well, we are a week into this "blitz" and not only have they not neutralized Santorum, or even slowed him down, his numbers keep rising, in almost every state, and nationally, except for NY.  

    Romney's camp must be stunned, and if this is the extent of the Santorum attack, it may get a lot worse.  At what point, will Romney's lead in money, and organization be meaningless if a significant majority of GOP voters refuse to vote for him.

    And, this is with Gingrich still in the race, syphoning off social, and fiscal conservatives.  If he is pressured to drop out after Super Tuesday, Santorum's numbers may improve further.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:48:01 AM PST

    •  Correction the 28% was the previous AZ poll, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Attorney at Arms

      not MI.

      What a dramatic narrowing in AZ.  The Romney camp must be dazed, confused, and perhaps, even stunned.

      I suspect these movements are more of a threat to him than most others, who seem to believe some "magic" like force makes him the inevitable nominee.

      No amount of money and org, will be determinative if the majority of GOP voters dislike him a great deal.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:58:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

      I think Santorum will change his mind after these latest poll numbers make AZ look competitive. It's still an uphill struggle though as Romney can expect a lock on the Mormon vote, 6% of the statewide population but considerably more within the AZ Republican party. And with his shoestring campaign Santorum doesn't want to spread himself too thin. Narrative matters as well as delegates, especially leading into Super Tuesday, and I think one win is worth far more to him than two narrow defeats.

  •  Not so sure (0+ / 0-)

    I think they're correct in sensing a chance for a genuine Rmoney collapse.  The sheer weight of disappointment on his campaign is really telling.  The trick is to get the really big mu$cle guys backing Romney to start to see continuing on with him as throwing good money after bad.  

    Humiliation in Michigan could just be too much for him at this point.  I think it's smart to double dare him into defending it with everything he's got.  It could pay off big enough to offset the loss in AZ.  

    Either way I'm glad that's Santorum's choice.  Humiliating Romney is a fine goal.  

    When the truth is only a matter of opinion, advantage goes to the liars.

    by Sun dog on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:00:40 PM PST

    •  I follow you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sun dog, mdmslle

      as far as the day or so after Super Tuesday. At that point, unless Romney totally drops out, or won't spend his own money, what's the least he'll draw? 20%. Santorum needs to blow Romney out to get a first-ballot nomination himself.

      I guess that's a quality problem for Santorum, but I don't see how his math works if he doesn't start counting heads now.

      GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

      by Attorney at Arms on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:03:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think they are banking on the fact (0+ / 0-)

        that Romney won't want to win in such a humiliating fashion, by banking 20-25% in every state following Super Tuesday.

        The weight from the press and party leaders to suspend his campaign will be very loud at that point.

        I like Michelle more than Barack.

        by duha on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 11:40:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's about perception and momentum (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It still is all about perception and media coverage and beating expectations at this point. We all know that's the case with the very early primaries, but I'd say all primaries before Super Tuesday fall into the same category. Actual delegate math is less important than how the media (and therefore more or less the public) will see the race unfolding.

    Michigan has long been considered an easy win for Romney. Santorum's campaign noticed they had a change of beating Romney there, which would be a devastating blow to Romney's reputation. Furthermore, Arizona's demographics aren't as favorable to Santorum as in Michigan if I've understood correctly.

    So I think Santorum has made the right decision. He was committed to Michigan before his three wins and it continues to be a solid choice, because a win there would be huge. And he has a chance of doing that. Win in Arizona would be big too, but his chances of doing that are probably smaller and the payoff (not in delegates but in momentum) is less too.

  •  Santorum could win Michigan and come out with less (0+ / 0-)

    delegates out of the state than Romney.

    Michigan decide to apply the RNC penalty almost exclusively to their at-large delegates, which means the current plan is 2 delegates go to the winner of each of the 14 congressional districts and 2 more to the statewide winner.

    I consider the following plausible:

    MI-1: Paul
    MI-2: Santorum
    MI-3: Santorum
    MI-4: Santorum
    MI-5: Romney
    MI-6: Santorum
    MI-7: Santorum
    MI-8: Romney
    MI-9: Romney
    MI-10: Santorum
    Mi-11: Romney
    MI-12: Romney
    MI-13: Romney
    MI-14: Romney
    Statewide: Santorum

    Totals: Romney 14 Santorum 14 Paul 2

    Of course, there are a lot of assumptions in those guesses.  My main point though is that running up the margins in Western Michigan only goes so far.

    29, (new) MA-7, Unenrolled

    by Marcus Graly on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 12:31:15 PM PST

    •  CDs and the CW that Romney is inevitable in MI (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marcus Graly, wu ming

      So Mitt was born in Michigan but he hasn't lived here since the late 60s or early 70s from what I can tell.  His dad was done as gov in 1969 and was largely out of the public eye after he was done in the Nixon admin.  So there are a lot of voters in MI whose response to Mitt Romney is, "Really, he's from here?"  He left after HS and made his name in MA, so he doesn't seem like a Michigan native.  I think the campaign is trying to make up the Midwest credentials here to burnish the "Mass liberal" image. The religious right is very strong in Michigan, as Marcus notes above by giving Santorum all the west side CDs.  That certainly favors Santorum.

      I think Marcus is too conservative in his scoring for Santorum and that at least 2 more districts will go for him (I agree with Marcus' general thrust though):
      CD 5:  Despite having Flint and the potentially more moderate GOP folks there, the Lake Huron coast will certainly go for Santorum or Newt.
      CD 8: Livingston county, former KKK Grand Dragon home?  Definitely not Mitt territory. Detroit N suburbs might be, but I doubt their enthusiasm is as strong as Liv Co.

      On the other hand:
      CD 10: Mich Militia stronghold.  Could go Paul.  That would be my guess.

      I think Paul should campaign strongly in Mich, because there are lots of anti-govt folks there that his message resonates with, particularly on the east side.

      (As an aside, we hear a lot about how Mitt's dad, George, was an auto exec.  What we don't hear is that the company was American Motors.  I don't think you can blame George for AMC's demise, as he was gone before AMC tanked. But the image of Mitt tied to a Gremlin is pretty funny.)

  •  Because of the delegate rules (0+ / 0-)

    and some events in the primary dates, the road for Santorum is very uphill, because the winner take all states in April are almost entirely pro-Romney.  The three states that would have balanced that out for Santorum were Pennsylvania, Texas, and Indiana.  The first two are being pushed back to June due to redistricting issues, and Santorum is currently not on the ballot on the third.

    Basically, the way I see this, Santorum has two paths for a majority of delegates, neither particularly likely.

    1. Santorum wins Michigan and Arizona.  Romney is relegated to only his solid states on Super Tuesday (Massachusetts, Idaho, Virginia by default), and really wins no major states of consequence after that.  Romney basically collapses and drops out in April after losing Wisconsin and Maryland on 4/3.

    2. Santorum wins Michigan and wins almost all primaries through mid March losing only a few pro-Romney states.  (This much is quite plausible, but the rest of it less so)  Then Santorum wins Illinois in late March, and gets a decent chunk of the party establishment.  Romney comes back with wins in several Northeast states on 4/3 and 4/24, but Santorum pulls of a shocking upset in New York, and wins several more primaries throughout May and June, and finally obtains a majority by winning Texas and Pennsylvania in June.

    •  Well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Allen, wu ming

      After Arizona, there are only 91 winner-take-all delegates left.

      The only way anyone gets a first-ballot nomination at this point is by delivering a knockout blow and soon. If there are still 3 or 4 people running in May, I don't see how it's otherwise.

      GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

      by Attorney at Arms on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 11:14:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Love these as always (0+ / 0-)

    It will be interestign to see Newt's numbers in places like GA and TN coming out of 3rd/4th place finishes in MI and AZ.

    I know the belief is that Newt is dead, but if he can win or finish close second in these 2 states then the prospect of the brokered convention becomes more real.  My estimate has been that newt+Paul needs to have around 250 delegates to prevent a Mitt or Santorum delegate clinch, and we're still a long ways from there.

    "What if you're on a game show one day and the name of some random New Jersey state senator is the only thing between you and several thousand dollars? And you'll think to yourself, "if only I had clapped faster." - sapelcovits

    by rdw72777 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:08:43 AM PST

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