Meanwhile, in Arizona, the other big state making its primary decision on Tuesday . . .
According to a CNN/Time/ORC International poll released Tuesday, 36% of people likely to vote in Arizona’s February 28th GOP presidential primary say they’re backing Romney as their party’s nominee, with 32% supporting Santorum. The former Massachusetts governor’s four point margin over the former senator from Pennsylvania is within the survey’s sampling error, meaning they are basically tied for the top spot.
The poll indicates that 18% are backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with 6% supporting Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and 6% unsure.
Remember, Arizona is a winner-take-all contest for 29 delegates.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s rules are . . . well, so complicated as to be nonsensical:
Michigan Republicans will award 2 delegates to the candidate receiving the most votes in each CD and awarding the remaining delegates by the statewide vote with a 15% threshold. That would mean 28 delegates would be bound by the CD vote (2 in each of the 14 CDs) and 2 delegates would be proportionally bound according by the statewide vote with a 15% threshold.
Two delegates! Two! Winning statewide, the current obsession of all the polls and analysis, wins a maximum of two extra delegates!
A candidate must receive 15% of the statewide vote to be eligible to receive National Convention delegates. From those candidates meeting this threshold, proportionally bind the national convention delegates according to the statewide vote. Round factions to the nearest whole number (below 0.5 are rounded down, 0.5 and above are rounded up). If the end result is less than 2 delegates, allocate 1 additional delegate to the candidate receiving the most votes statewide. If the end result is more than 2 delegates, subtract 1 delegate from the candidate receiving the fewest votes statewide.
Now, take a look at Wikipedia’s map of the 2008 Republican presidential primary results in the state, where Romney won the dark red and McCain won the light red:
The results that year: Romney 38.9 percent, McCain 29.6 percent, Huckabee 16 percent.
The current numbers in the RealClearPolitics average: Santorum 33.8 percent, Romney 33 percent, Paul 11.4 percent, Gingrich 9.2 percent.
In other words, it’s quite possible that Romney will win about half the state’s congressional districts, and Santorum will win the other half. That would mean Romney and Santorum would win 10 to 18 delegates each (perhaps even splitting them, 14–14) and the statewide winner getting those extra two.
While winning Michigan may be decisive to the perception of momentum in the race, the first-place finisher is likely to get only a handful of delegates more than the second-place winner.