Politics / Top Stories

UPDATED: Mitt Romney edges out Rick Santorum in close Michigan Republican primary

Mount Pleasant resident Bud Fisher, 83, votes in the Michigan Republican primary Tuesday afternoon at Mount Pleasant City Hall, 320 W. Broadway St. (Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer)

Mitt Romney won the Michigan Republican primary Tuesday night, avoiding a potentially embarrassing loss in his home state to Rick Santorum.

Romney won with 41 percent of the vote. Santorum finished behind him with 38 percent. With 99.9 percent of the vote counted, Romney had 409,899 votes to Santorum’s 377,521. Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich finished well behind, with 12 percent and 7 percent respectively. Romney and Santorum both won 15 delegates since Michigan’s delegates vote proportionally.

A Michigan Republican committee voted Thursday to give Romney the state’s two at-large delegates despite the party’s rules that those delegates be given on a proportional basis to the statewide vote. Romney and Santorum both receive two delegates from each of the seven districts they won, bringing Romney’s delegate count to 16 and Santorum’s to 14.

The 28 precincts from Isabella County reported Santorum as the winner for the county with 40.5 percent to Romney’s 37.7 percent.

Romney also won the Arizona Republican primary and all of its 29 delegates.

The former Massachusetts governor won a close contest between himself and Santorum. Romney has struggled to connect with Tea Party supporters and evangelicals across the state and has been negatively impacted by his opposition to the 2009 bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler.

“It was very important for Mitt Romney to win the Michigan primary,” said Political Science Professor and Chairperson Orlando J. Perez in an email. “Romney has the money and organization to go forward and Santorum lacks money and organization to com- pete in all of the states left to vote. Winning Michigan and Arizona provides Romney some momentum going into next week’s Super Tuesday where 10 states will hold their primaries.”

Much was made of the impact Democrats would have on the primary heading into Tuesday. Democratic leaders had urged Democrats to go to the polls to vote for Santorum. Santorum’s campaign put out robocalls appealing to Democratic-leaning voters to vote for the former senator to send a message to Romney for his opposition to the auto bailouts.

Central Michigan University Griffin Endowed Chair Maxine Berman said the impact of Democratic participation in the Republican primary is slightly overplayed.

“Apparently about 10 percent of voters were Democrats, at least according to some early exit polls,” Berman said. “The last (Republican primary in 2008), it was 7 percent, so it’s not that big of an effect. But in a close race, could that make a difference? Sure.”

A CNN exit poll indicated 9 percent of primary voters identified as Democrats.

Berman saw parallels between the 1972 Democratic presidential race and the 2012 Republican presidential race relating to party crossovers.

“George Wallace, who was a well-known racist, won the Democratic primary in (1972),” Berman said. “Democrats accused Republicans of crossing over to make us (the Democratic Party) look bad. There was a little bit of that, but if you look at the numbers, it really wasn’t that big of an impact.”

Looking forward to the general election, the fight between the Republican front-runners appears to have damaged the Republican brand in the state. Once considered a tossup state, President Barack Obama now appears to have locked the state up. An NBC News/Marist poll from earlier this month found Obama opening up an 18 point advantage over Romney and a 26 point lead over Santorum.

“Polls show that a majority of people in Michigan support the bailout of the auto industry and that should provide a big boost to Obama,” Perez said. “This will be a difficult state for a Republican to win.”


This story has been updated for accuracy. 


  1. Michmediaperson says:

    Berman is wrong.  George Wallace won the Michigan Democratic Primary in 1972, not 1968.  Check the records.

    John, you weren’t probably born back then.  If I recall, Wallace was shot the day before the primary.  Some of that vote was probably sympathy by fellow Democrats.

    Democrats overwhelmingly voted for Wallace that year since the ultra-liberal Democrats in Washington tried to stuff school busing down the throats of suburban Detroiters, (the Libs wanted to bus the suburban kids into the inner-city schools of Detroit.  The wealthy Democrat Party kids could afford private schools to avoid this but the kids from the UAW families couldn’t afford it) many who were union Democrat workers at the auto companies.  Wallace, a Democrat, was a racist and Democrats throughout Michigan agreed with Wallace.  Wallace attacked crime.  You have to remember from about 1965 to 1968, Democrats in this country were burning down cities like Detroit, tearing up Chicago during the 1968 Democrat Party election.  They were burning down the cities–Detroit, Chicago, LA, etc.  Wallace went after his own party who were committing the crimes.  The law-abiding Democrats responded with a Wallace victory.

    Democrats were just as crazy back then as they are today.

    Orlando, don’t count Romney out this fall in Michigan.  I know CMU’s political science is pro-Obama.  Didn’t some professors in that department donate to Obama-Biden in 2008??    I’m listening to Pat Cadell, Democratic Party pollster on Fox, going through the poll numbers….Mitt did very well with voters under the $30,000 to $50,000.

    If Obama keeps raising gas prices and can’t bring down unemployment, I think we may win the state.  We can’t afford another 4 years of Barack Hussein Obama.  He’s bankrupting us with his trillion dollar a year deficits.  Orlando, exactly when is he going to balance the budget?  He promised he would.

    Orlando, if Rick Snyder continues to turn Michigan around after the 8 disastrous years of socialist Jennifer Granholm, it’s going to help Obama.  As Snyder continues his success, he’s going to have to tell everyone, Mitt can get the nation turned around as well.  

    It’s a long time to November.  I remember the pollsters a couple weeks before the 1980 election had the great Ronald Reagan losing….and he wound up winning in a landslide.

    Good to see Rick Santorum win Isabella County.  Even though I voted for Mitt, good to see Isabella County is still a good conservative county.

    • And when Nixon saw how successful Wallace had been in ’68 and ’72 he  instituted the Southern Strategy of going after the white racist vote, the foundation of Republican electoral strategy ever since.

      I don’t know where you get the idea that “Obama keeps raising gas prices” – he doesn’t run the oil companies – but it’s a result of his economic growth as much as anything.  People getting jobs leads to them driving to work, leading to increased demand, leading to higher prices.  Businesses re-open, they have to be heated, burning oil, increased demand, higher prices.

      And of course Obama has already brought down unemployment, despite resistance from Republicans.  Michigan’s rate was at 14% in mid-2009, then it started going down (well before Snyder was elected or his policies were put into place) and it’s now at 9% (still too high).  For comparison, when Bush took office it was 4.5%.  So, Republican president, unemployment goes way up, Democratic president, it goes back down.


      Stock market, same thing.  Under Bush, negative 3.5% return; under Obama, positive 20% return (as of Sept. 2011).


      Under Bush, national debt up $5 trillion; under Obama, projected through 2017, less than $1 trillion.  And most of Bush’s was for useless or even harmful stuff like tax cuts for the rich and the Iraq/Afghanistan quagmires.


      Why anyone would want the Republicans back in charge is beyond me.

      • Michmediaperson says:

        Hey Guest—Quit spinning!  Michigan is NOT in the south.  White Democrats in Michigan voted for a racist.

        On the gas prices, everytime the gas went over $2 a gallon, you liberals blamed George Walker Bush and Dick Cheney and their Texas oil buddies.

        Well, Bush and Cheney are long gone, gas prices at record prices, if it was Bush and Cheney’s fault back then, now it’s Obama’s fault.

  2. DanielleNicole says:

    I was SO upset that I wasn’t able to vote because I registered to vote under my old license so when I got my new 21st license, my voting area was moved back to my hometown :’( But there would have been one more vote for Ron Paul!!!

  3. I_Was_A_Teenage_McCarthyist says:

    This just in:

    I just got wood that had more pertinent things to say about this country and our future than what either of these boners has to say.

  4. I_Was_A_Teenage_McCarthyist says:

    Don’t worry people.

    Infinite growth is totally sustainable.
    Capitalism and the American Dream will ride us all the way to those pearly gates where all the candidates will be forgiven for being totally facetious and two-faced.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Advertise with Us! | Contact Us | About Us | Join CM-Life's Staff