It's been about a week since any vote was cast in the Republican presidential primaries, and even those votes are now in doubt. The official count was that R-Money beat Paul in Maine, but the results may change. Like in the Iowa caucus, Mitt yet may be able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
We are still a week and a half until another meaningful vote with primaries in Michigan and Arizona. There has been a crazy amount of polling in Michigan and all the data says about the same thing. Senator Rick, he of the last name that shall not be mentioned, has a big lead in Michigan, which is something of an embarrassment for R-Money, who was born there and whose father was governor about a half century ago. R-Money made a TV ad showing off his Michigan roots and as usual, he sucks at the whole positive message thing. The car he was driving is a Chrysler made in Canada, and a picture of his dad and young R-Money visiting the Detroit Auto Show was actually a picture of them at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.
So Senator Rick is now the front runner. All the media says so.
Not so fast.
Two polls taken in the past few days in Arizona tell us R-Money still has a lead of about 8% there, trimmed significantly from the beginning of the month when Newt was the presumed NotRomney. The big difference between the two contests is Michigan splits its 30 delegates proportionally and Arizona has 29 delegates, winner take all. In Michigan, a candidate has to pass the 15% threshold, which should be easy for the front runners and a challenge for Gingrich and Paul.
I'm not exactly sure what to make of all this data pointing in different directions. Maybe each of the candidates other than Dr. Paul (Vote Ron Paul! Give up hope! You'll be fine with gold and dope!) is a regional candidate, Gingrich in the south, Senator Rick in the Midwest, R-Money in the eastern seaboard and the Mormon west. One thing that is clear is Senator Rick is at a massive money disadvantage. His recent successes have not changed the fact he was a third-tier candidate for over six months, getting the kind of donations you expect from a no-hoper without a rabid base. The next time the campaign budget numbers are updated, maybe he'll be doing better, but when the guy you are trying to beat has 30 times as much money in the bank as you do, the question is can he close the gap enough to make a difference.
There isn't enough data to make things clear right now. I don't expect things will be clearer after the primaries on the 28th or even the Super Tuesday contests a week later. Part of the media's favorite message right now does ring true. R-Money hasn't sealed the deal yet, and it's hard to say if all his cash can make him a more attractive candidate when all is said and done.