GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney went two for two on Tuesday night as he won primaries in Arizona and Michigan. Arizona was a blowout, which was expected for some time, and so attention had turned to Michigan. Rick Santorum was rising in the polls, and the contest ended up much closer than when Romney beat McCain in Michigan in 2008. So what’s next for the GOP hopefuls?
Let’s begin in Arizona, where Romney garnered 47% of the vote to Santorum’s 27%. Newt Gingrich was in third with 16%, followed by Ron Paul with 8%. Romney won all counties, and with Arizona being a “winner take all” state, he came away with 29 delegates.
The Arizona exit polls, show that Romney dominated across all demographics. He won with men as well as women. He won among Whites and also among Hispanics. Romney won in all age and education categories as well.
Here are the candidate speeches from Tuesday night:
In Michigan, it was a slightly different story. Romney won the state with 41% of the vote to Santorum’s 38%. Ron Paul was a distant third with 12%, followed by Newt Gingrich with 7%. As you can see from the map, Santorum actually won more counties than Romney, but Romney won in the more populous areas. Romney also had a big advantage in early voting, which was the key to the election. The closer Election Day became, the more people were moving from Romney to Santorum.
The Michigan exit polls showed that Romney and Santorum wer virtually tied among men, but Romney won among women by five points (43% to 38%). Santorum won among the younger age groups (18-29 and 30-44), but Romney won among the older demographic (45-64 and 65-over).
Santorum edged out Romney among lower income and less educated voters. The more the education level or income level rose, the more those voters went for Romney. If someone in the household belonged to a union, those voters went for Santorum in a big way (47% to 28%). Non-union households went for Romney by 44% to 36%.
Here’s an interesting statistic, and it plays into the news regarding Santorum robocalls in which he suggested that Democrats come out to the polls to vote for him instead of Romney. Those voters who identified themselves as Democrat only made up 9% of the total, but they went for Santorum with 53% to Romney’s 18%. Among Republicans, Romney won 48% to 37%.
Santorum dominated against Romney among voters who consider themselves to be “very conservative” by 50% to 36%. However, Romney won in the categories of “somewhat conservative” and “moderate.” Those labeling themselves as “somewhat conservative” went for Romney by 50% to 32%. Those labeling themselves as “somewhat liberal” went for Santorum by 32% to 27%. So Santorum got the bookends, and Romney got the middle.
Santorum brought in the strong Tea Party supporters by 45% to 37%. As the support for the Tea Party movement went down, Romney’s numbers went up. In another interesting twist, Santorum (a Catholic) won significantly among evangelical voters (51% to 35%), while Romney won among Catholics (44% to 37%). Those who felt that it was important that a candidate share the voter’s religious beliefs went overwhelmingly for Santorum (63% to 21%).
In the area of candidate qualities, Santorum won among those voters who want a “true conservative” (58% to 18%) and among those who feel their candidate should have a strong moral character (59% to 17%). Romney won among voters who want a candidate who they feel can beat Barack Obama (61% to 24%) and among those who feel their candidate has the “right experience” (57% to 16%).
So now it comes down to next week’s Super Tuesday elections. Santorum had a big lead in Michigan, only to see it fade away. The Arizona and Michigan primaries were a big step for Romney. Some will say that the closeness of the Michigan race was some kind of knock against him. To me, the Michigan race showed the inability of Santorum to close the door on Romney. Going into Super Tuesday, it’s back to being Romney’s show, and it will take another strange turn of events (like the Santorum sweep) to change things. Santorum needed Michigan… not a close second, but a win. He didn’t get it, and now Super Tuesday becomes even more of a make-or-break day for him.