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mitt romney rick santorum michigan Mitt Romney (left) and Rick Santorum (right) are in a close race in Michigan as voters there (and in Arizona) head to the polls on February 28. (Photos courtesy Charlie Kadado)

Election 2012: Arizona and Michigan Votes Today

Romney and Santorum battle for frontrunner status

By Charlie Kadado | February 28 , 2012

Voters in Arizona and Michigan head to the polls today to vote in the Republican presidential primary. Both contests are important to the four GOP candidates, but all eyes will be on Michigan.

Recent polls show former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum in a neck-and-neck race in Michigan. This is Romney's native state, and the candidate expected an easy victory. But Santorum has made a late push to upset Romney.

Romney, whose father was the former governor of Michigan, has been struggling in his native state. A recent poll conducted by Mitchell Research/Rosetta Stone shows Santorum with 37 percent and Romney with 35 percent in Michigan.

Analysts say that a loss in Michigan would heavily damage the Romney campaign.

Despite a close race in Michigan, Romney is expected to win in Arizona. A PPP poll shows Romney leading with a comfortable 43 percent, compared to 26 percent for Santorum in the state.

The Issues

Santorum has appealed to many Republican supporters because of his stance on social issues. But in the run up to today's primaries, Santorum has begun to focus more on economic issues.

Michigan was in the headlines during the economic crisis in 2008. The state is home to the big three American automakers — Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. But the industry was on the brink of collapse, which threatened the state, the city of Detroit, and a million workers. The industry was saved when the federal government provided a bailout to General Motors and Chrysler that prevented it from collapsing.

In 2008, Romney faced criticism in Michigan after writing an editorial called "Let Detroit go Bankrupt." He later went on to defend his remarks at a CNN debate last week.

"These companies need to go through managed bankruptcy," not bailed out by the federal government, Romney said.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who has endorsed Romney, has previously stated that the bailout is "working." Even though they disagree on the bailout, Snyder said he supports Romney because of his "track record" in creating jobs.

The Other Candidates

The other major candidates in the race are Texas congressman Ron Paul and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Paul has rallied in Michigan at a few events. But he has not put as much effort into the state as Santorum or Romney.

Gingrich, meanwhile, decided to skip Michigan. Instead, he has focused on Super Tuesday, which will occur on March 6. Ten states will vote on Super Tuesday — Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Stay with the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps and the Election 2012 website for the full results of today's primaries.

ELECTION 2012

Scholastic News Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail! Keep up with latest election news on the Election 2012 website.

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