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Romney, Santorum Face Off in Michigan Primary

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As voters in Michigan and Arizona head to the polls Tuesday in the latest round of primary voting ahead of Super Tuesday, all eyes are on Mitt Romney's home state of Michigan where he and Rick Santorum are in a virtual tie.

In the latest polling, Romney has closed Santorum's double-digit lead in Michigan from just a few weeks ago. But the front-runner in recent days has changed back and forth between Romney and Santorum depending on the day of the week and the polling center.

On Sunday, Public Policy Polling showed Romney leading 39% to 37% among likely Republican voters. In a separate We Ask America survey he was leading Santorum by 4%. But on Monday, America Research Group had Santorum out in front by 1% with 36% support over 35% for Romney.

Mitt Romney is expected to come out ahead in Arizona where the winning candidate will take all 29 of the state's delegates. But as the polling numbers above suggest, there is no telling who will win Tuesday night in the Midwestern state of Michigan where 30 delegates are up for grabs and will be distributed proportionally by district.

"We could be looking at a scenario, especially because the polls are so tight, where Mitt Romney may edge out a very slight victory in the state-wide vote, but then actually Rick Santorum may pick up more delegates," explains Yahoo! News Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian in the accompanying video. Chalian goes on to underscore the negative implications for Romney in this tightening race, which should be a "no-brainer" for him. "[Romney] should not be in a position where he is struggling to eek out a very small victory in the state where he was born and his father served as governor and where he beat John McCain just four years ago," he says. One explanation attributable to Romney's struggle in the state is his failure to back the auto bailouts and his penchant for continuing to speak out against them.

Romney versus Santorum is just the latest battle facing the former Massachusetts governor. Over the course of the Republican nominating process, he has struggled to beat back surging poll numbers from Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Santorum has recently been able to rile and rouse the base by pushing social issues rather than how to address the shaky U.S. economy and create jobs.

But just as these issues have helped Santorum, they may also lead his downfall. News headlines in recent days have been filled with some of Santorum's rather shocking remarks, including calling President Barack Obama a "snob" for wanting every child to have access to a college education and remarking that John F. Kenney's speech on the separation of church and state made him want to "throw up." Santorum has also shown himself to have a lack of understanding over the U.S. economy, saying the Great Recession of 2008 was spawned by high gasoline prices and not the sub-prime mortgage crisis, which is the consensus view.

This type of talk is not where the Republican party is, says Chalian who still believes Romney will take the GOP nomination. But round after round of fighting off other candidates will not bode well for him in the end.

"I can't overstate how bad this is for Mitt Romney in terms of how much water he is taking on to his political brand throughout this process right now," Chalian notes. "Should he emerge from this eventually as the nominee, and I still think that is the likely scenario here, it has just weakened him incredibly for the general election."

Tell us what you think! Who will win the more delegates in Michigan Tuesday night?

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