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A Jewish Guide to the MI and AZ Primaries

Who’s hot and who’s cold

Marc Tracy
February 28, 2012
Michigan!(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Michigan!(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Number of candidates actually contesting: Four.

Their names: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum.

Percentage of state population that is Jewish: .8 percent (Michigan); 1.7 percent (Arizona).

Where that ranks: Tied for 24th out of 50 (Michigan, with New Hampshire); tied for tenth (Arizona, with Delaware).

Jewish issues? Santorum’s rise has made social issues to come to the fore (to the horror of much of the Republican establishment, which wants the election to be about jobs and values to be translated into foreign policy). Debates over contraception have the potential to polarize the Jewish vote, as observant, Orthodox voters head one way and less- or unobservant ones head another, but those tendencies tend to already exist, and anyway that will be a bigger deal come general election season if it is a deal at all.

Who’s going to win? Not sure! (Michigan); Romney (Arizona).

Does it matter? Oh yeah. Santorum began with a huge lead in Michigan, which dwindled and then disappeared, particularly after a relatively strong debate performance from Romney last week; in recent days, however, the momentum has swung back (Romney’s unquenchable knack for gaffes has helped), so that now it’s pretty much a toss-up. A big Rust Belt state not unlike his own Pennsylvania, this is the state Santorum should win if he’s going to win on the strength of more than just social conservatives uneasy with Romney. If Romney wins Michigan, Santorum still lives to fight another day (particularly if it’s by a small margin), but the talk starts to turn to Romney-as-nominee. If Santorum wins Michigan—even by a little—he heads into Super Tuesday, next Tuesday, including the huge prize of Ohio, with a ton of momentum; just as importantly, talk of drafting Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels or Paul Ryan or you or me as the Republican nominee grows from faint murmur to audible tremor.

Arizona doesn’t matter. Romney will win it easily.

Open or closed primary? Open (Michigan), closed (Arizona).

Proportional or winner-take-all? Proportional (Michigan), winner-take-all (Arizona). This is why Arizona was largely uncontested. It’s also plausible that the overall winner in Michigan will not get the most delegates (but winning the whole state is much more important, because of the political narrative).

Wait, you haven’t really discussed Gingrich. Awkward, right?

Well he could at least be the vice-presidential nominee, right? Hahaha.

Paul Factor? He’ll certainly want to try to steal as many delegates as he can in Michigan, and the open primary helps him. What hurts him is Michigan’s 59 delegates were reduced to 30 as a penalty for their moving their primary before Super Tuesday.

Number of delegates to the Republican National Convention: 30 (Michigan), 29 (Arizona).

What’s next? Super Tuesday!

Which is? Exactly as it sounds.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.