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I suspect this particular installment of my column is going to piss some people off.

You, know, this working 14 hour days is getting really fucking old.  I'm only now finishing sifting through the data about yesterday's elections in Arizona and Michigan.



R's are breathing a sigh of relief that they managed to stop Rick Santorum from Hindenburging the party.  And how did they do it?  Well, we already have one asshole in Iowa saying he gave Romney an extra twenty votes to make sure he beat Santorum in the caucus (fat lot of good it did, the caucus eventually went to Santorum anyway).  And don't forget -- I live in Illinois, The Land Of The Voting Dead.  I know a lot of the tricks politicians use to help tilt elections.  When you know how to rig an electronic voting machine for $20 and the gas to run to Radio Shack, you don't see elections as The Will Of The People but What Politicians Will Allow That Will To Be.

Longtime readers are probably wondering about my prognostication skills.  After all, I had said Romney was going to sweep the month of February.  Santorum, however, came on strong.  He did this by talking like one of the trolls on 4chan.  CO2 is not poisonous because plants thrive on it.  Wanting people to have college educations is snobby.  Women who become pregnant from being raped should just make the best of the situation.

It's important to note who these messages are intended for.  General voters don't care and don't want to hear that shit.  They'll rush to vote for Obama before you can say, "I'm an asshole."  Santorum's goal is simple -- he's trying to be the next Bill Clinton.

Okay, that's loaded.  Let me clarify.  It's not becoming President that would make Santorum like Bill Clinton.  It's that he became the policy leader of his party.  Clinton became a big noise in the D's for a long time because he had the ears of the party traditionalists.  Santorum is after the same kind of status.  Basically, he wants to be appointed kingmaker within the party.

How to do this?  By getting delegates and making Romney sweat.  As I've pointed out, the party leaders want Romney.  He's their only option at this point.  All the press releases coming from the R's propaganda machines propping up Romney and trying to street pizza Santorum prove it.  Santorum, however, is turning to the loyalists within the party, who actually count the votes or influence them.  He succeeds in doing well enough, he becomes a figurehead, giving voice to the silent members with the purse strings who don't want to admit the world has moved on from their smooth-lobed philosophy.

Yes, I suspect Santorum gamed the system.  I have no proof, but when Romney loses states that, two days before their elections, he was pulling in more votes than all the other candidates combined, something is fishy.  The R's had no choice but to shut this down, either by stopping the fast and loose behavior or getting fast and loose on their own.

There were plenty of opportunities to do this in Michigan.  Santorum was targeting evangelical Christians, who account for roughly 40% of the voters there, and tea partiers.  Santorum needed to appeal to them because they hadn't voted yet, which makes his gaffe with the tea partiers particularly costly (he said JFK's speech about the separation of church and state made him want to "throw up."  Oops, tea partiers purport to love the Constitution, so he had to do some spinning to fix that).  Romney was already in the lead thanks to absentee voters, and estimates are he had at least 50K votes on Santorum before the pols even opened (and remember what I said about The Voting Dead).  The two waged a very negative campaign to maximize the voter turnout in areas they were already slated to win.  Romney focused on Detroit, Santorum on rural areas and Grand Rapids.

With this now over, everyone is shifting to next week and Super Tuesday.  Gingrich is focusing on Georgia in hopes that it will keep his campaign viable.  His superPAC is getting $100 mil to keep him in it.  If Gingrich doesn't carry Georgia, which he repped for 20 years, he's over.  And Ron Paul has yet to carry a single state (he sat out Michigan yesterday, camping out in Virginia for next Tuesday).

The party leaders have decided, it's just a matter of making it official.  With talk of people contesting the primary vote, the only option is for Romney to take a commanding lead so that any dissension won't matter.  And that will happen, the only question is how long it will take.

Get ready for next week, folks.  It's going to be brutal.

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