Understanding Michigan's Delegate Math

Forget the final vote totals on Tuesday night, it is the delegate math that matters in the Wolverine State GOP presidential primary. The New York Times' Nate Silver explains:

Twenty-eight of the 30 delegates in Michigan’s Republican primary will be awarded, two at a time, to the winner in each of the state’s 14 Congressional districts; only two will go to the candidate who takes the most votes statewide.

There are competing theories about just whom this might favor. One hypothesis holds that although Mitt Romney might dominate in Detroit’s wealthy suburbs, he is either an underdog or no better than even money against Rick Santorum pretty much everywhere else in the state. Since winning a district by 20 percentage points does you no more good in the delegate count than winning one  by 2 points, that means Mr. Romney could have some wasted votes.

The other theory holds that Mr. Romney’s voters tend to be concentrated in districts where turnout will be low. This is not necessarily a reflection of subpar enthusiasm for his campaign; instead, it’s because some of these wealthy suburban areas are paired with cities like Detroit and Ann Arbor that vote heavily Democratic. Therefore, Mr. Romney could win a Congressional district where 15,000 people turn out to vote in the Republican primary, but lose another one where 75,000 do. But both count equally on the delegate scoreboard.

Which of these two theories is liable to prevail? If you go through the state’s Congressional districts one at a time, it looks as if both have some merit.

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Romney, Santorum Lead Obama In Swing State Poll

From Susan Page at USA Today.

In the poll, Obama lags the two leading Republican rivals in the 12 states likely to determine the outcome of a close race in November:

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum tops Obama 50%-45% in the swing states. Nationwide, Santorum's lead narrows to 49%-46%.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney edges Obama 48%-46% in the swing states. Nationwide, they are tied at 47% each.

The swing states poll of 1,137 registered voters was taken Feb. 14-21. In addition, a national survey of 881 registered voters was taken Feb. 20-21. The margin of error for each is +/-4 percentage points.

The battleground states surveyed include Michigan — where Tuesday's primary has become a critical showdown between Romney and Santorum — as well as Ohio and Virginia, which vote next week on Super Tuesday. The other swing states are Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada,New HampshireNew MexicoNorth Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

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Romney Takes Lead In Michigan, Projected To Win By Narrow Margin

From political prognosticator Nate Silver at The New York Times.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast model now projects a win for Mr. Romney by about four points in Michigan, roughly bisecting the Rasmussen Reports and Mitchell Research polls. Although that is inherently a fairly small margin, it is more meaningful given that there are just four full days of campaigning until Michigan votes; the model makes Mr. Romney about a 2:1 favorite in the state.


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Women For Santorum? ... Maybe

From The Washington Post's Amy Gardner

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows not only that Santorum is doing better among GOP women than he was a few weeks ago, but also that he is less unpopular — and also less well known — among Democratic and independent women than his Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Voters and political strategists alike say Santorum’s rise has less to do with his views on these issues than on his ability to relate to the daily struggles of the middle class.

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Ford O'Connell On Obama's Energy Policy And Rising Gas Prices At Fox News

Ford O'Connell and Democratic pundit Kirsten Powers join Fox News' Chris Stirewalt on Fox News Live's "Power Play" to discuss President Obama's energy policy, rising gas prices, alternative energy and the Keystone XL pipeline. Appearance also available on Fox.com at http://video.foxnews.com/v/1471985005001/

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Mitt Romney Overplayed His Hand In Michigan

In the campaign world, it's almost a cardinal rule: Undersell your chances, then overdeliver at the ballot box. Former Gov. Mitt Romney never got the memo on this, and he might well pay a severe price for this misstep in next week's Michigan primary.

Ironically, as we inch closer to the two primaries next Tuesday, Team Romney has begun to lower expectations in Michigan—to say the state is not, in fact, a must-win for his campaign. No kidding.

But the Romney camp could've saved itself a lot of money and agiant headache if it had started off trying to shape the narrative rather than becoming beholden to it.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Culture Wars May Weaken Youth Support For Republicans

Colleen Wilson has all the makings of a foot soldier for whichever Republican becomes the nominee to oppose President Barack Obama in the November election.

The Virginia college student comes from a conservative family and describes herself as a Republican. She is an intern at the county Republican committee and paid her own way to attend the prominent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this month.

Her support should be a given for a Republican in Virginia, one of the closely contested "swing states" where the 2012 presidential election will likely be decided.

But it's not.

"I may vote for Obama," said Wilson, who is 19. "It's possible. I can't say now, but I'm not ruling it out."

Some Republicans said the party's moral tone could even revitalize support for the Democrats.

"If it's perceived as telling people what to do, then Republicans could awaken a sleeping giant that could significantly boost President Obama's re-election chances," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

"They're walking a very tight rope right now."

Obama's approval rating among 18- to 29-year olds had slipped since 2009, but has been rising again. It hit 60 percent this month in Gallup's tracking poll.

Read more from Patricia Zengerle at Reuters

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Ford O'Connell Discusses The Role Of Money In Election 2012 At AJE

So, what role will Wall Street play in the 2012 election? 

Joining Inside Story US 2012 with presenter Lisa Fletcher are guests: Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist formerly with John McCain's campaign; Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, a group that monitors campaign funds; and Richard Wolff, an emeritus economics professor at the University of Massachusetts.


Also See: 


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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: Has Romney Stanched The Bleeding?

Given the “circular firing squad” nature of the 2012 GOP primary, Romney will not have stopped the bleeding until he secures his party’s nomination.

That said, due to the high stakes of Wednesday night’s debate, Santorum’s subpar performance might have been just enough for Romney to win the Michigan and Arizona primaries. Santorum really needed a strong showing, and he just didn’t deliver.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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Romney Clawing His Way Back In Republican Race

Mitt Romney is fighting his way back into the driving seat in the Republican presidential race, putting in a strong debate performance in Arizona and gaining in polls against conservative rival Rick Santorum.

An aggressive Romney repeatedly put Santorum on the defensive in a CNN debate on Wednesday and attacked the former U.S. senator and staunch social conservative for supporting big-spending government programs.

Romney has also battled his way into a slight lead in a new poll in Michigan, which along with Arizona will hold a primary contest on February 28. Romney had trailed Santorum by as much as double digits a week ago in the Michigan race.

The pace of the Republican race quickens dramatically next month, with 22 state nominating contests in March, including 10 on "Super Tuesday" March 6.

Santorum may have missed his chance at Wednesday's debate.

"Santorum needed a strong performance in the debate and he didn't get it," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. "All eyes were on him. He had an opening and he missed it."

Read more from Steve Holland at Reuters

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