Looking over the past several months of the 2012 GOP Presidential Primary, I've learned a few things, had a few laughs, and generally bored the hell out of my readership. But as we look into the crystal ball for the future, here are a few things I expect to happen:
1) If Mitt Romney Loses Michigan: Romney's father not only was the former Governor of Michigan, but used Michigan as the base of operations for his failed 1968 Presidential Bid. In other words, losing Michigan is going to hurt. Now, it won't hurt Romney as bad as losing Massachusetts or Utah, but it will hurt. Romney's biggest and best argument for the nomination is the electability issue - that he's the best match-up to Obama. If he loses Michigan, along with his losses in Missouri, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Colorado, Romney shows real weakness in the Midwest and in the South, two areas a GOP nominee has to carry to win.
Now, does this mean that Romney will drop out if he loses Michigan? Nope. Romney has a ton of money, has organizational resources, and has been running for President since 2007. If he doesn't grab the nomination now, he never will. I expect him to fully napalm the entire GOP field, except for Ron Paul (more on that below). Oh, and if there's a brokered convention, Romney will do his damnedest to blow the whole thing up. He literally has nothing to lose.
Santorum, on the other hand, further gains momentum if he wins Michigan. For a guy who has to rely on contributions, momentum is key. Big funders are more likely to send money to Santorum, or his Super PAC, and because he's a contender, he gets more free press time than he knows what to do with. For Newt, he stays in until Super Tuesday to see if his win in South Carolina is indicative of his strength in the South.
For Ron Paul, the status of the race doesn't matter whatsoever. Paul is sort of like Dennis Kuchinch in 2008 - he's there for his own reasons. Those reasons, by the way, have nothing to do with libertarian ideology. Ron Paul may be an ideologue, but he's also practical. He knows that he has no chance at getting the nomination, but he also knows that, by virtue of running, he's building an organization outside the GOP. And the only reason to build that kind of operation is to run for President and win. My guess, is that Paul is laying the groundwork for his son, Senator Rand Paul, to run for President in the future. In this light, even Paul's reluctance to attack Romney makes sense - why make enemies with the GOP leadership?
Interestingly, that makes Paul the one guy in the room with something to lose. Think about it - neither Romney, nor Santorum, nor Gingrich, have anything to lose. They do not have jobs. They have few, if any ties to the current GOP leadership, and in the case of Gingrich and Santorum, they know that they have one guy in their corner who will give them employment post-election. Given that reality, no one will drop out, and no one will go easy on the other candidates (again, except for Paul). This is going to be a bloodbath.