Steffen Schmidt, IAFC Blogger
Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.
Mitt Romney narrowly “won” his home state of Michigan, but 41 percent to Rick Santorum’s 38 percent was really a pyrrhic victory. (His Arizona victory of 47 percent to 27 percent for Santorum was more decisive in a southwestern state that is now solidly Republican.) You will recall that King Pyrrhus of Epirus defeated the Romans but at a huge cost which ultimately led to his defeat.
Ultimately the Republicans have probably lost Michigan with their anti-government and anti-auto industry bailout rants, which is particularly meaningful as Michigan has been tracking Republican.
As globalization and poor management decisions by the “Big Three” drove Detroit to the edge of the cliff Michigan lost massive numbers of jobs and was on the precipice of an economic collapse had two of the big three gone under. The Obama bailout and takeover has helped GM and Chrysler bounce back, reorganize, and become incredibly profitable again.
The Republican anti-big government rhetoric has played well with the base of the party. However in Michigan the bailout and the private-government partnership is very popular, with 63 percent of registered voters in the state supporting the decision.
If the election were held today Obama would win decisively against Romney in Michigan. It’s no wonder. Homeboy Mitt Romney said the auto industry should have been allowed to go bankrupt. Problem is there was no private money, no investors interested in buying the companies had they been allowed to tank. In fact, the struggle at the time was between American companies in Detroit and foreign car companies in other parts of the U.S. who were thrilled at the idea of not having to deal with competition from the three U.S. competitors.
Looking ahead, the Washington caucuses are March 3 but for some reason no one is paying much attention to these. Ron Paul has been mining this state and he does well in caucuses. Of course the “big event” is Super Tuesday March 6. Also the Rasmussen poll this week has Ron Paul beating Obama in a head-to-head 43 percent to 41 percent. Romney and Obama are tied at 44 percent each.
The mainstream media is touting Michigan as a huge win for Romney, and the psychology of a win may still give the former Massachusetts Governor a bounce. No doubt had he lost his home state, the campaign would've been in shambles.
I talked to several of my old Republican friends this week. I can report first of all that they think Romney will ultimately win the GOP nomination. But they were unanimously worried about candidate Romney because of his endless gaffes and because he has developed a narrative as a rich man who doesn’t seem to connect with working class folks. Third, they expressed concern about the lingering issue of Romney’s religion; the hard core GOP Christian, faith-based core as well as Tea Party activists still don’t like and don’t trust Romney.