Is Rick Santorum a true contender for the Republican presidential nomination? How long will it take for the Republican Party to select its presidential nominee? These were some of the looming questions facing AEI’s political team during Tuesday’s Election Watch, the third of the 2012 campaign season. Moderated by Karlyn Bowman, the panel delved into discussion of the primaries on the immediate horizon, with Michigan, which holds its primary on February 28, as the main focus. EPPC SEnior Fellow Henry Olsen and Michael Barone debated whether Rick Santorum, on the rise in recent polls, would win Michigan — which would be a major upset considering that it is Mitt Romney’s home state. Olsen maintained that while Santorum may not capture a victory in Michigan, he will likely put up a strong challenge. Barone then argued that Romney — his former high school classmate — would win Michigan because the state’s electorate (especially in the metro Detroit area) is affluent. In short, Barone argued that Romney appeals to this demographic. Norm Ornstein then demonstrated that unlike in other recent elections, none of the current top tier Republican candidates have a strong regional connection to their home states. Overall, panelists concluded that because none of the candidates has made a strong case for why he should be the party’s nominee, an open Republican convention is not out of the question.
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