MoveOn hits Mitt Romney in Michigan this week:
Obama campaign hits Romney in Michigan this week:
Obama Super PAC hits Romney in Michigan this week:
Now, of course, none of those ads specifically urge people to vote for Rick Santorum. They don't need to. If you are casting a vote in Michigan, and it's not for Romney, it's going to be for Santorum (Paul and Gingrich won't rate).
Democrats know that if Romney loses Michigan, this thing will continue to drag out, causing more damage to the candidates and the broader GOP brand, bleeding their cash and giving them less time to recover in time for the general election. That's why they're spending big bucks to soften up Romney.
And while we've focused on getting Democrats to turn out (along with the Michigan Democratic Party), those ads have a different (but complimentary) purpose: to depress independent pro-Romney turnout. The numbers are stark:
"Among GOP voters [...] Santorum leads Romney by 41%. Among Independent voters, Romney leads Santorum by 30%.”
The winner will be determined by which candidate does the best job getting their supporters to the polls.
If Democrats can use these negative ads to depress turnout among that insanely pro-Romney cohort, it makes it much harder for Romney to win the contest. It's a classic campaign tactic.
The progressive effort to deliver a Santorum victory in Michigan is two-pronged—suppress pro-Romney voters and increase turnout among Democrats willing to further cast anti-Romney votes. The two approaches are complimentary because, ultimately, the goal is the same: a Romney loss in Michigan, and a GOP nomination contest that gets dragged out that much longer.