As Mitt Romney admitted, they may not have been his prettiest wins.
"We didn't win by a lot - but we won by enough, and that's all that counts," he said Tuesday night after victories in the Michigan and Arizona primaries.
Yet even in a cycle where he's already endured far more do-or-die contests than expected, these wins may be his most valuable yet.
Romney succeeded in both states when it counted most, largely on the strength of the same voting blocs that have consistently backed his campaign. The older, richer and better-educated you were, the more likely you were to vote for Romney. If you made your decision before the primary season began, or if beating President Barack Obama was your top priority, and the economy was your biggest concern, then Romney was your pick.
The outlook for Romney was sunny in the Southwest. He scored solidly with most Arizona demographics on his way to his more comfortable win of the night, winning pluralities in every age group, income level and major religious denomination, helped in part by overwhelming support from the state's sizable Mormon population. But it wasn't just a Mormon-fueled win: He even beat Rick Santorum among Santorum's fellow Catholics.
Anderson Cooper talks with the political panel about whether Newt Gingrich can survive in the race for the nomination after Mitt Romney's wins in the Michigan and Arizona primaries.
The audience at Rick Santorum’s first stop of the day Monday – a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in suburban Detroit - was a bit subdued at the top of his talk. Maybe they’d reached candidate speech threshold; maybe it was all the breakfast carbs.
Then Santorum’s remarks started moving into red meat territory, sliding from his early swipes at Mitt Romney to full frontal assaults on President Obama. He took aim at the president’s policy on religion, and blasted the alleged negative impact of the administration’s energy policy. Santorum told the crowd that the average life expectancy in 1935 was 61 years, which meant that Social Security was designed so only a minority of Americans would ever have a chance to draw benefits – and that he was the only candidate bold enough to acknowledge that fact. With each statement, the crowd’s reaction grew more animated. By the end, he’d seemingly won them over completely; as his time on stage ended, the room rose in a spontaneous standing ovation. “He seemed to get a lot better later on,” said supporter Paul Bonenfant. “He just got so much more comfortable up there.”
Here’s the problem: none of those crowd-rousing statements yesterday were entirely true. Sometimes it was the sort of mistake anyone could make (although anyone with actual policy knowledge probably shouldn’t): the difference between life expectancy at birth and the life expectancy of working adults. Others were much harder to mistake. The country isn’t increasingly dependent on foreign oil thanks to President Obama. And it isn’t quite accurate to say that “people of faith” no longer have the “right to come to the public square and express their points of view or practice their faith outside of their church” – since Santorum, a person of faith, has repeatedly and vocally expressed his point of view in daily appearances that have involved every region of the country.
Reporter's Note: Every single day I write to President Obama. He never writes back. I’m pretty sure that fifty percent of us are getting tired of this.
Dear Mr. President,
You have to hand it to Rick Santorum, even when some of his poll numbers aren’t as ascendant as they were just a few days back, like a boxer who is behind on points, he keeps swinging for a knockout. Yesterday I wrote about his attack on pols who talk too vigorously about separation of church and state, and today I find myself thinking about the way he’s been going after you on the issue of college education. In case you missed it, he called you a “snob” who, in effect, believes that everyone must have a college degree to matter in this world.
As you know, I always try to be encouraging, and in that spirit I want to offer a quick warning: Be careful, because he may be on to something.
I don’t mean that you are a snob. That is something for you and others to determine. No, what I mean is, yelling too loudly about the greatness of those citizens with higher educations can easily be perceived as a lack of respect for those without; the blue collar voters you need for re-election, and who deserve a lot more respect than we give them as a nation.
Think about it. While higher education is, for the majority of people who get it, a ticket to higher wages and more job opportunities, what about those who don’t fit that mold or who have other aspirations? What message are you sending to them? The truth is, as much as we may need new physicists and accountants, we also need people who want to be plumbers, carpenters, lumbermen, security guards, janitors, road repair workers, electricians, and so much more. And while many of these jobs will absolutely require special skills, the training will not necessarily come from a university or even a junior college.
While the idea of making college available to all is laudable, my point is, that is very different than saying everyone ought to go to college. You might be well advised to point out in a few speeches the enormous importance of working people who, despite not having higher degrees, actually make our nation run every day. I daresay if all of them walked off of the job, we’d probably feel the effects faster than we would if all the college educated folks went on strike. Maybe that’s because, in case you don’t know, there are still a good many more of them than there are folks with higher degrees. In the long run, the absence of people with higher educations might hurt us more, but in the short run, I suspect we would be stunned by the impact of a walkout by the people who do all those difficult jobs on which we depend every day; folks who keep the trains running, our cars full of gas, our houses warm, and food on our tables.
My father used to complain that college ruined many good workers, by making them look with disdain upon any job that required using their hands, or getting dirty, or laboring beneath the sun. He understood the importance of college for the right souls who could make good use of what they learned; but he also remained convinced until his dying day that college truly is not for everyone.
Be careful about giving even the impression that you might look down upon honest, good, working people who do not go to college; that you do not respect their choices and accomplishments. They are a great part of America’s greatness, and they have learned enough to know that.