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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Arizona and Michigan Republican 2012 Primary Live Blogging/ Discussion, Polls And Results

By Susan Duclos

(This post will be bumped to top all day Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, AZ and MI. primary day).

[Update] AZ called it for Romney as soon as polls close. MI is close, Santorum took an early lead and Romney is leading with 25 percent reporting, will publish the winner when it gets called.

With 76 percent of the vote in, Romney is projected as winner for MI, with a 4 percentage point lead. Will report final totals tomorrow.

[Updates throughout the day on the Michigan and Arizona contests will be posted below the Cover It Live embed]

Joining Right Pundits once again, we will be live blogging the Michigan and Arizona primaries, and enjoying live chat, via the Cover It Live feature below, on February 28 starting at 7pm Eastern as exit polling data begins to flow in.

Polling shows that Mitt Romney is leading in Arizona heading into Tuesday's contest and while Romney is outspending Santorum massively in Michigan, Romney's home state, Santorum was in the lead recently, with Romney starting to even it up last week and now Santorum seems to be on the rise again this week, so Michigan could be a nail biter.

[Updates start here for 2/28/12]

Another poll, from Public Policy Polling shows the momentum heading into Primary Day in Michigan has tilted toward Rick Santorum giving him a statistically insignificant lead of one percent.

Michigan was supposedly a "given" for Romney since he was born there and his father was a popular Governor in the 1960's, so having to fight as hard as he has had to is indicative of what is being seen nationally among very conservative voters, where he has lost 16 percentage points in his favorability, over the last two weeks alone.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight indicates that the last minute rebound for Santorum is unlikely to be a statistical fluke and offers eight possible explanations for what has caused this rebound.

1. It may be that Mr. Santorum has the better closing message. His campaign has been more positively oriented, although not uniformly so.

2. It could be that voters are rallying to his side after he took some harsh treatment in news media coverage.

3. It is possible that his voters are more enthusiastic and starting to come home as likely voter models become more accurate.

4. It could be that Mr. Santorum is picking up support from Newt Gingrich supporters who have concluded that Mr. Gingrich is not viable.

5. A set of minor gaffes by Mr. Romney, related to the staging of his Ford Field speech and a remark he made about Nascar, may have hurt him at the margins, as well as the fact that he took part of Sunday away from the campaign trail to attend the Daytona 500.

6. Mr. Romney may have had some temporary momentum from last week’s debate — in my view it was a “win” for Mr. Romney but not an overwhelming one — which has since evaporated.

7. Mr. Santorum, whose “Super PAC” bought a fair amount of advertising inventory in Michigan about a week ago, may have equalized the advertising gap in the closing days of the campaign, having been disadvantaged by it before.

8. Mr. Santorum may be benefiting from Democrats, some of whom are crossing over to vote in an effort to create chaos in the primary, and some of whom are responding to robocalls that were apparently placed by Mr. Santorum’s campaign.

[Update] Romney being hoisted by his own petard.

[Update] ABC News provides some exit polling data from Michigan:

Also worth watching are the choices of voters looking for a candidate who shares their religious beliefs; more than half say this matters to them, although many fewer, about a quarter, say it matters “a great deal”; and the six in 10 who oppose legal abortion, with differences between those who favor making it illegal in all cases, as opposed to most cases.

Seniors are another group to watch – preliminary exit poll results find them turning out in far larger than customary numbers for the Michigan primary, albeit about usual for other states this year. Elsewhere it’s been a good group for Romney.

One other result suggests the GOP electorate in Michigan is not exactly fired-up: Just under half of voters say they strongly favor their candidate. Four in 10 like their guy but with reservations, while the rest mainly dislike the other candidates.

Among other groups:

PARTY: Six in 10 voters in today’s Michigan Republican primary describe themselves as Republicans, about 10 points fewer than in 2008. (But it’s been lower, just 48 percent in 2000, and also was lower this year in New Hampshire.) Independents account for three in 10 voters, Democrats, as noted, one in 10. In past contests Romney generally has done better with mainline Republicans than with non-Republicans.

QUALITIES: A third of voters say they’re most interested in electability – the candidate with the best chance to defeat Obama. That has been a strong Romney group in previous contests. But two other attributes are close behind – experience and strong moral character, each picked by about a quarter of voters. In a result potentially unhelpful to Santorum, fewer, about one in seven, say they’re looking mainly for the true conservative in the race. And In a separate question, slightly more than half see Romney as most likely to defeat Barack Obama in November, double the number who say so about Santorum.

UNION and BAILOUT: Just under a quarter of voters are from union households, continuing a downward path from 2008 and 2008 in their share of the electorate. Romney did better among non-union than among union voters in 2008, and tried to tie Santorum to “big labor” this year.

More GOP voters in the state disapprove than approve of the federal government’s automaker bailout, but not by a wide margin – 51-43 percent, perhaps a surprising level of support in this particular population, given the party’s customary laissez-faire approach. Romney and Santorum both opposed the bailout.

ISSUES: More than half of Michigan voters say the economy’s the most important issue in their vote, by far the top rated issue; just under a quarter named the federal budget deficit, one in seven pick abortion, with illegal immigration in the low single digits. Also on the economy, three in 10 had a job loss or layoff in their household in the past three years.

At the better-off end of the spectrum, three in 10 voters report household incomes over $100,000 a year, another group that’s been good for Romney in previous contests this year.

DEBATE/DECISION: About a third of voters call the last pre-primary debate important in their vote today. And about a quarter decided in the last few days, down from a third who said so in 2008. That means three-quarters decided earlier, a group that in most previous contests has tended to be a better one for Romney.

More updates will be added throughout the day.

(Full Republican primary/caucus schedule found HERE)