First Reactions

Mitt Romney's 'hard-fought' Michigan win: What it means

Romney fends off an unexpected challenge from Rick Santorum, avoiding embarrassment by narrowly winning the state where he was born

Mitt Romney must be breathing a sigh of relief. Facing the risk of a humiliating GOP presidential primary loss in Michigan — where he was born, and where his father was a popular governor — Romney overcame surging conservative Rick Santorum to claim victory Tuesday night. With 89 percent of precincts reporting, Romney led Santorum 41 percent to 38 percent. (Romney also won a convincing, though unsurprising, double-digit win in Arizona on Tuesday.) How will Mitt's narrow Michigan win affect his campaign heading into the 10 contests of Super Tuesday on March 6?

Even a shaky win is a win: With this "hard-fought victory in Michigan," Mitt has averted the "chaos and second-guessing" that would have crippled his campaign had he lost his home state, says Jill Lawrence at National Journal. Reclaiming "his title as fragile front-runner" in spite of his proclivity for "Richie-Rich type gaffes," Mitt is heading into Super Tuesday with all the momentum and "the field's best financing and organization."
"Romney wins Michigan in home-state cliffhanger"

Arizona really helps Mitt, too: Mitt Romney claimed all 29 delegates in winner-take-all Arizona, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. That's far more than either Romney or Santorum will bag in Michigan, where most of the 30 delegates will be divvied up in the next day or so based on how candidates fare in individual congressional districts' final counts. Assuming we're "headed for an extended delegates fight — and it's hard to see the race ending anytime in the near future" — Mitt's Arizona sweep alone makes this a "good night" for Romney.
"Why Mitt Romney's Arizona win matters"

Are you kidding? Tuesday was a "rocky detour": Michigan, a contest that Romney "should by rights have owned," was just another painful step on Mitt's "torturous path" to the nomination, says Konrad Yakabuski at Canada's Globe and Mail. Romney has "more money and advisers than all of his GOP rivals combined," but he couldn't even pull off a convincing win against a weak field in his home state. No wonder conservatives are doubting his ability to beat Obama in November. After his "middling performance in Michigan," Mitt needs to quiet concerns by cleaning up on Super Tuesday. If he doesn't, "he may need more than a Hail Mary pass to become the Republican nominee. He may need a miracle."
"Tight race in home state deals blow to Romney's Michigan victory"

Indeed. Conservatives should be depressed: You've got to wonder why Romney is "so determined to win when he receives so much negative feedback at every turn," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. "He has few passionate supporters and many passionate detractors." He can only win by "carpet-bombing his rivals with negative ads rather than stirring up enthusiasm for his candidacy." The base essentially loathes him, but the guy just won't give up. Stay tuned for "a long internecine battle while Obama sits back and piles up money."
"Open thread: Michigeddon"

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