Endgame assessment:

Very good night for Romney, he has all but beaten back the Santorum surge.  It’s hard to know if outspending Santorum did the trick; Romney spent only about 1/3 going after Santorum in Michigan as he spent going after Newt in Florida, and didn’t need to bring in the establishment media and political cavalry.

Santorum also had a series of bad days, starting with the debate, then his comments about “vomiting” over JFK’s speech and the college “snob” remark.  The robocall seeking to have Democratic union members come to his aid because Romney didn’t support the auto bailout was a low point in a campaign season filled with low points.

The cumulative effect was that Santorum never showed he was ready for prime time.  That may sound harsh, but it’s true.

BTW, Newt is looking pretty smart staying out of Arizona and Michigan, and looking to the South on Super Tuesday.

—————————————-

Michigan % Reporting - 88
Romney – 41
Santorum - 38
Paul – 12
Gingrich – 7

—————————————-

10:17 Fox News calls Michigan for Romney

Detailed Fox News Exit Poll data.

Santorum doing better among liberal Democrats than Catholics

Santorum failed to win Catholic vote in either state.

Santorum leading big among Democrats, Romney among Republicans.

9:24 – the numbers have been holding steady at Romney with a 3% lead, Karl Rove says based on county reports, it will be Romney by several percent.

9 p.m. – CNN calls Arizona for Romney at the close of the polls

———————
The polls close at 8 p.m. Eastern in most of Michigan, 9 p.m elsewhere in Michigan and in Arizona.

Arizona is expected to go easily to Romney, so the news of the night will be Michigan.  The big story there is Romney’s relative weakness, and Santorum’s robocall trying to get pro-auto bailout Democrats to vote for him.

I’ll post results as they come in, but until then, in Wisconsin the True the Vote effort reports that there are enough questionable or clearly invalid signatures to deny the recall, BUT only by a hair.  It remains to be seen if the Wisconsin GAB takes True the Vote objections into account, since Gov. Walker himself is not contesting whether there are enought signatures for a recall.  I’ll have more on this as the recall challenge proceeds.