Primary Day: Split Decision in the Birthplace of the GOP*

JACKSON, Mich. – Michiganders like to date the birth of the Republican Party to a conference held in this city 148 years ago. Today, it’s the hub of somewhat-Democratic-leading, affordable area. Its voters at the biggest precinct were splitting down the middle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

“Romney’s got a good, conservative economic plan,” said Eric Cole, a special needs teacher whose salary has been capped at $7.70 an hour thanks to cutbacks. The prospects of more cuts to state budgets did not faze him: Romney would make the economy grow. “And Santorum is too wishy washy. I think he’s been all over the place.” I haven’t much heard that critique of Santorum here.

Joseph Feinberg, an economic consultant, didn’t disagree with Cole. Romney, he said, was a fine manager. But he was voting for Santorum, because he was worried about “governmental ethics.”

“When I think of how Santorum might approach government, I think of the story of King Solomon,” he said. “You need to be ready to split the baby.” The country had been in a mess since 2008 because no one was ready to do that. “We avoided a worse recession, but we gave away the Republic.”

*This is disputed.