Nice work, Michigan. You kept the Romney campaign alive. My Intrade portfolio thanks you.
So what lessons have we learned? First of all, despite entreaties to Democrats to raid the GOP primary and vote for Romney, there apparently wasn't a whole lot of raiding. According to exit polls, only 7% of the GOP primary electorate consisted of Democrats, and those voters preferred McCain to Romney 41-33. Interestingly, Romney got a lot of support from core Republican groups, even beating out Huckabee among white evangelicals.
The polls look to have been roughly right on this race, having detected some movement toward Romney in the last week. Indeed, the exit polls show that among those who decided their vote today (16% of the voters, allegedly), Romney beat McCain 41-25.
The exit polls reveal the general weakness of McCain's position in the GOP nomination contest. McCain's obviously popular among independents. For reasons I can't fathom, McCain is the candidate of choice among Republicans who feel negatively towards Bush and who disapprove of the war in Iraq -- despite his 100-year pledge. But these aren't the people you necessarily want on your side if you want the GOP nomination. The other folks -- those who are still loyal to Bush, still support the war, call themselves evangelicals, etc. -- are, you know, the base, and they seem to like Romney right now. That's a good position for him to be in.
I still think Romney's the guy to beat for the GOP nod. I'm not as giddy about that as some Democrats, mind you. Any Republican who can repeatedly win statewide in Massachusetts is someone to be taken seriously in a general election. But for now, at least, the GOP race is very much alive -- three contests, three different winners. And the chance for a brokered convention is now slightly greater than zero.