CHICAGO (CBS) — Political analyst Stephen Caliendo says Mitt Romney’s victory in the Republican primary in Michigan was essentially a tie in terms of delegate allotment.
But even though he came in a close second in Michigan, Rick Santorum has been repeatedly shooting himself in the foot, Caliendo says.
CBS News reports Romney won 41 percent of the vote in Michigan, where was born and where his father served as governor, compared with 38 percent for Santorum.
“We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough, and that’s all that counts,” Romney told his supporters in Michigan after emerging victorious.
But Caliendo says the narrow victory is not, in fact, all that counts.
“The margin’s too small; I mean, he can say a win’s a win, but essentially, it’s a tie in terms of delegates, by the way that Michigan allots its delegates,” Caliendo said on the CBS 2 Morning News Wednesday. “It’s not a winner-take-all state. And plus, symbolically, of course, it’s not a victory.”
In fact, Romney and Santorum continue to retain their bases of dedicated supporters, and Caliendo says unless one of those groups of supporters leads a candidate to clear victory, the contest will not be over after Super Tuesday next week.
Even Newt Gingrich might come away with some surprise showings on Super Tuesday, as he retains support in many southern states that hold Super Tuesday primaries, Caliendo said.
But while Santorum has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent weeks, he has made many remarks in recent weeks that will likely prove to be a liability, Caliendo said.
“He’s not helping himself. I couldn’t even put a sweater vest on today, I was so upset about the Rick Santorum thing. Really, Jack Kennedy? That’s who he’s going to pick a fight with? I mean, this doesn’t make sense. And then he’s going to go after higher education? I mean, he’s sort of making bad choices, so he says he wants to focus on the economy, but then he’s sort of throwing these sort of softballs after the conservative base,” Caliendo said. “And things are going to be difficult for him – not just in the primary, but if he moves along.”
CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer recently said he wouldn’t be surprised if a new Republican candidate emerged at the Republican National Convention and ended up being the nominee. Caliendo agrees that such an outcome is possible, but not necessarily as late as the convention.
“I think the later we go, the more likely that is in some ways, and in other ways, the less likely it is, because somebody’s got to be able to raise enough money. But with the new campaign finance rules, a couple of big donors could come in and infuse money pretty quickly,” he said. The fact of it happening at the actual convention is more of a long shot than somebody coming in in the meantime. If there aren’t clear victories next Tuesday – if I’m standing here next Wednesday and there are not clear victories – we’re probably going to have some discussions about somebody else.”
The Illinois primary is on Tuesday, March 20.