All eyes on Michigan today, as the state holds its primary in what has been labeled Romney's first must-win primary. Michigan's polls show Romney and Santorum neck and neck, making today's primary critical. Another wild card is the fact that Michigan's primary is open, meaning Democrats and Independents can participate. Arizona voters also hit the polls today in what appears to be a safe win for Romney. Combined, 59 delegates are up for grabs in today's primaries.
On the campaign trail...
Newt Gingrich (Republican): Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is looking beyond today's primary's and instead looks to the South for support. Unlike the remaining three Republican candidates, he will not be campaigning in Michigan and Arizona and instead took this week to "develop his message about gasoline prices." He plans to get gas prices down to $2.50/gallon, and due to the increasing prices of gas, Gingrich believes this will appeal to voters.
Barack Obama (Democrat): While the Republican candidates duke it out for Michigan, President Obama defended his auto bailout in Washington today:
"With the economy in complete free-fall, there weren't any private investors or companies willing to take a chance on the auto industry…The heartbeat of American manufacturing was flatlining. And we had to make a choice."
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Ron Paul (Republican): Although Paul's chances of winning the state are low, Michigan's delegates are allotted proportionately, meaning each district has a certain number of delegates up for grabs. He has been campaigning in the state and according to a recent Rasmussen Report, is leading Obama in national polls by 2%. This is the first time the former Texas Congressman has come out on top of the President in a hypothetical 2012 match-up.
Mitt Romney (Republican): Although he served in Massachusetts, Michigan is Mitt Romney's home state, putting added pressure on the presidential candidate to win in today's primary. With the exception of a visit to Florida this weekend, Romney has been campaigning aggressively in the state and is tied in the polls with Rick Santorum. A win for Romney could be the push he needs to gain the support of the Republican party, while a loss in his home state could lead to a long fight for the Republican nomination.
Rick Santorum (Republican): Despite calling Obama a "snob" for wanting to provide education to everyone in America, Rick Santorum is still surging in the Michigan polls. In fact, his attack on Obama could actually work in his favor. A closer look at the electorate in the state shows that six in ten voters do not have a college degree, a higher percentage than in any of the previous states to hold primaries. A victory in Michigan could elevate the former Pennsylvania Senator to frontrunner status, giving him some much needed momentum for next week's Super Tuesday.