The GOP race heads to Michigan next week and two recent polls show Rick Santorum opening a lead over Mitt Romney. This is a surprise to the Romney people who thought that Michgan would be in the bag. Romney's father was a popular governor in the state and Romney won Michigan four years ago. But, parts of Michigan are exceedingly conservative. The southwest corner of the state, the areas around Grand Rapids, is home to a host of evangelical and charismatic colleges and universities. While Detroit has produced some uber-liberal congressional reps, in the Upper Peninsula, only a Democrat with the conservative street cred of Bart Stupak could win. These areas should prove very open to Santorum's candidacy.
Both men need to come out of the state singing the U of M fight song, but only one gets to be the victor. If Romney wins, he can deflate a lot of the steam behind the Santorum candidacy heading into Super Tuesday. If Santorum wins, he not only puts to rest Romney's inevitability argument, he also likely pushes Gingrich's supporters into his own column on Super Tuesday.