Michigan primary "too close to call," says veteran Republican pollster

LANSING, Mich. — With hours to go before the polls close in Michigan, one of the state’s premier Republican pollsters told HUMAN EVENTS today that the Republican presidential contest is “too close to call” between front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

“It’s a beautiful day today, no snow anywhere, so that shouldn’t affect turnout,” said veteran pollster Steve Mitchell, “And the race can go either way.”

Only days ago, Mitchell’s polling showed Romney gradually pulling ahead of Santorum.  This Romney surge he attributed to economic conservatives and tea partiers warming to the attacks on Santorum’s economic conservatism by the former Massachusetts governor and his supporters’ SuperPAC.

“But on Friday, Romney did not look good at or get good reviews about his economic speech at Ford Field [in Wayne County],” Mitchell told us, “And Santorum clearly saw an opportunity and has tried to take advantage of it. Over the weekend, Santorum clearly made a decision to try to win Michigan and to do so by emphasizing his credentials on conservative social issues.”  In the last few days, the former Pennsylvania senator has sandwiched in last-minute campaign drop-ins in Livonia, Kalamazoo, and Lansing between his pre-arranged agenda of stumping in some of the 10 states holding delegate contests on Super Tuesday (March 6) In all of his Michigan stops, Santorum emphasized his cultural conservatism.

Romney and his Michigan team stepped up their campaigning in Michigan and, Mitchell told us, his final survey showed the Michigan-born-and-bred candidate leading Santorum 37 percent to 36 percent among likely voters, with Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich tied at 9 percent each.

“He’s effectively stopped the bleeding that began Friday and over the weekend,” said Mitchell, adding that Romney owes his last resurgence primarily to women voters coming over to him, “But it’s still too close to call.”