Earlier today, MSNBC laid out how much was at stake for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in tonight’s Republican primary in Michigan.
“Tonight will largely decide if Romney limps to the nomination or if all hell breaks loose inside the GOP. There's no overstating the consequences of a Romney loss tonight: There won’t just be handwringing by the establishment, but there will be financial and staffing consequences, too,” First Read noted.
It was clear from comments made to me by senior Romney advisor Robert O’Brien that the campaign was keen to manage expectations in case the former Massachusetts governor was beaten into second place in a state that a few weeks ago he would have expected to have won comfortably. So Team Romney will have been more than pleased that he eked out a narrow win over the former Pennsylvania senator.
With 74 percent of the returns counted, Romney was ahead 41 percent to Santorum’s 37 percent, enough of a lead for CNN and other outlets to call it for Romney.
Santorum’s loss came despite the best efforts by some Democrats in Michigan. (For those of you who missed it, Santorum yesterday launched robo calls asking Michigan Democrats – yes, Democrats – to vote for him in the open primary “to send a loud message” to Romney. Oh, the irony).
Santorum is down, but not quite out. It was noticeable that both candidates failed to mention the other in their primary night speeches, suggesting that neither has any intention of backing down. Next week is the 10-state showdown of Super Tuesday. That will be a big night and should – should – give a much clearer idea of who the Republican nominee will be.