Michigan: Romney the Front-runner?

It seems home is where the votes are. Mitt Romney has won in Michigan, and we owe him at least a moment so he can bask in his gold-medal glory …

Now, with that out of the way, let’s begin the dissection. A lot of the story line coming out of Romney’s win will be determined by the demographics of his support. If a bunch of senior-citizens braved the snow to vote for him, then they probably voted for him because of George Romney’s gubernatorial stint. But, if young and middle class voters went for Romney, then he can position himself as the recession-friendly candidate as the country goes the way of Michigan down a dark economic rabbit hole.

The other issue at play for Romney: Can he rightfully call himself the front-runner? He’s got more delegates than anybody else and looks strong going into Nevada, where he’ll compete while everybody else is gallivanting around South Carolina. From there, he’ll be one of two or three challengers to Giuliani in Florida (Romney, McCain, and Huckabee if he wins South Carolina).

The impact on McCain will be muted if the exit polls hold true and independents decided to stay home. McCain is counting on independents to power him through the primaries and the general election, and it’s a reasonable expectation given all of the “unification” rhetoric flying around the electoral cycle right now. So, if independents didn’t come out to mark the ballot, McCain’s camp can’t be that shocked by the results. It doesn’t look good from the outside-looking-in, but the actual, hard data probably won’t show any surprises for McCain.

Huckabee? Fox is trying to spin it as a damaging blow, pre-South Carolina, but we’re skeptical. He’ll reboot his news cycle with the first Huckism he utters on the trail in South Carolina, and off we’ll go again chasing a new narrative. He’s already tried to change the subject by saying he was outspent “50 to one” in Michigan. Sounds like he’s taking a page out of John Edwards’ book.