Santorum vowed to continue his fight last night, saying he was pleased to do well in “the backyard of one of my opponents. … The people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates, and all I have to say is, ‘I love you back.’ ”
The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania maintains an 8-point lead in Ohio, according to realclearpolitics.com’s poll aggregator.
“It’s all about Ohio,” said Rob Gray, a Republican consultant who ran Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign. “There are a lot of delegates, it’s a battleground state and it’s a swing state, so if you can win there, it shows something to the voters who are sitting on the fence.”
The 10-state mega-contest, in which 400 delegates are at stake, features only three states that heavily favor Romney: Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia. Tennessee and Oklahoma are largely conservative bastions, where Santorum is favored, while Georgia will likely go to native Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker.
Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota, also viewed as conservative states, are holding caucuses, a format that tends to favor Santorum, Gray said.
“Super Tuesday still doesn’t look good for him,” Gray said of Romney. “There’s a lot riding on Ohio.”