After the Arizona Republican debate Wednesday night, msnbc Analyst and Slate.Com writer Dave Weigel reports that not only was the Romney campaign pleased with their candidate’s performance at the debate but in the spin room they were projecting confidence about next week’s contests. Weigel quotes Romney Senior Advisor Stuart Stevens as saying, “We’re going to win Michigan.” Proclaiming a win in the Wolverine state with most polls showing Santorum leading Romney in Michigan?It is true Romney is trailing Santorum in various polls including in this week’s Marist/NBC News Poll, where Santorum beats Romney 37 percent to 35 percent among likely (read Republican) Michigan voters. And among conservatives, things also look good for Santorum. When asked “which one of the following candidates do you consider to be the true conservative,” likely voters pick Santorum over every other candidate by double digits — Santorum 40 percent, Romney 16 percent, Paul 16 percent, Gingrich 11 percent.
But here is where things go in Romney’s direction: When likely voters were asked which quality is most important in a candidate, 52 percent in this survey said having a Republican nominee with “the best chance to beat President Obama” was most important. And 39 percent said having a true conservative was most important.
Who is the person they believe to have the best chance to beat the president? Romney wins. More than half, 51 percent chose the former Massachusetts Governor over former Senator Santorum who was picked by 24 percent of respondents. Also in Romney’s favor: 59 percent say they believe the former Massachusetts Governor will be the eventual nominee.
But wait, what about Romney saying that he would have let General Motors go through a structured bankruptcy? Things look good for Romney here, too. Among likely voters in next week’s Michigan Republican Primary, only 42 percent believe the bailout was a good idea.