Can Santorum afford to lose Michigan?

Mitt Romney has returned to his state of birth to find that 40 years tend to change a place. The trees are more even, the cars are coming off the assembly line again, and George Romney is a distant memory. For all the doom and gloom the media is giving about Romney being unable to win the state his father was once governor, there’s no particular reason to think Romney should play in Michigan. Michiganers have their own problems to worry about and have little time to plan a coming home party for a former governor’s son.

What’s far more primary ending is if Santorum lost the state. Michigan is a rust belt state with GOP blue-collar workers. This is suppose to be Santorum’s sweet spot. He’s one of them, grandson of a coal miner; Pennsylvania politics is as pure as coal dust and a proper training ground for winning the hearts and minds of a Michigan voter especially when Romney’s most recent interaction with the auto industry involved him telling them to drop dead. Rick Santorum should have the primary wrap up.

And while Nate Silver has given Santorum a 72% chance of winning the state, his lead has dropped like a stone. From being up by 15%, Santorum is now leading only by 4. What happened? Besides Romney burying him in PAC money, Santorum is an unlikeable hyper-social conservative. Instead of making this race about Romney’s car flub or how Santorum can solve Michigan’s economic woes, Santorum has made the race about Obama’s contraception deal. The result? Santorum is losing Catholics to Romney.

In essence, this is why Santorum is bound to lose the race. It’s not only about Romney’s powerful entrenched stance with money and GOP VIPs (though that might have been enough), it’s Santorum is bad on the issues, bad on campaigning, and bad on organization. The last social conservative candidate is finding out you can’t fight basic political physics when you don’t understand the subject.

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