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Could Democrats Help Swing Michigan for Santorum?

By Scott Conroy - February 27, 2012

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Making DiSano’s efforts more difficult, no one is known to have kept a list of the voters who helped to hand the Arizona senator his surprising Michigan victory 12 years ago.

DiSano said he has gotten a “mixed” response, and he bemoaned the line of thinking among some fellow Democrats who intend to vote for Ron Paul -- the candidate who agrees with them on some key issues.

“There are a lot of people out there with the wrong idea that Ron Paul is the correct candidate to support on Tuesday, but I don’t think Ron Paul’s going to walk out of Michigan with one delegate,” he said.

The Democratic Party of Michigan has also waded into the shenanigans but has been somewhat less open about its motives.

Last week, the party issued a press release and sent an email to supporters highlighting a recent video in which two GOP state lawmakers took to the Senate floor in Lansing and encouraged state Democrats to participate in the primary.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer, however, did not specify that Democrats should vote for Santorum in order to help prolong the GOP race. But he did assert that Republicans would “have no one but themselves to blame” if the crossover affected the election results.

State Democrats aiming to give Santorum a boost hope that the state’s delegate allocation rules will make their goal more attainable. The Republican Party will award two delegates to the winner of each of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts, while an additional pair will go to whichever candidate earns the highest percentage of the statewide vote.

This system of proportional allotment means that a relatively small vote margin could have a major effect on the outcome.

“If it’s a close election, they could have an impact,” said Michigan GOP strategist Saul Anuzis, a Romney supporter. “I suspect very few Democrats will actually be out to play games. However, in specific congressional districts, this could be a factor if the vote is close.”

State Democrats have been encouraged by recent polling that indicates the race in Michigan may be tightening after Romney appeared to be building a lead.

DiSano on Monday night will make another round of robo-calls to the 12,000 Democrats who had indicated their willingness to vote for Santorum.

“This could go either way,” he said. 

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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