The Romney Michigan Rebound

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 21 2012 11:34 AM

The Romney Michigan Rebound

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP, MI - FEBRUARY 21: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall meeting campaign stop at Eagle Manufacturing Corporation February 21, 2012 in Shelby Township, Michigan. Romney is trailing former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in the polls in Michigan, but Santorum's lead has diminished in recent days to within the margin of error. The Michigan primary is February 28th. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Two polls, two trends, confirming the same factoid: Mitt Romney has clawed back into contention in Michigan's primary. The Public Policy Polling trend, from Febuary 10-12 to February 17-19:

Rick Santorum - 37% (-2)
Mitt Romney - 33% (+9)
Ron Paul - 15% (+3)
Newt Gingrich - 10% (-1)

And the Mitchell/Rosetta Stone poll for MIRS:

Mitt Romney - 32% (+7)
Rick Santorum - 30% (-4)
Newt Gingrich - 9% (+4)
Ron Paul - 7% (-4)

All that in one week. What happened? Romney was outspending Santorum on the air by better than 20-1. He's now outspending him, via his allies, around 3-1. But Santorum's still better-liked than Romney, with more voters saying Santorum's shares their values, and more saying they'd have a beer with the guy whose religion actually allows him to drink (42-29). Is there anything cutting against Santorum at all?

Screen shot 2012-02-21 at 1.25.34 PM

Even in a Republican primary, this new-old discussion of whether providers should be able to deny coverage for birth control is a loser. Romney is not emphasizing it on the trail at all. But up until last week, Santorum had successfully branded himself as a blue collar-friendly economic conservative who happened to be right on social issues. He'd been rewarded with support from Democrats and independents. That support has dipped slightly.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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