The impressive thing about Mitt Romney's three-point (41 per cent to 39 per cent) win over Rick Santorum in the Michigan primary, is that a couple of weeks ago polls showed Romney some 15 points behind Santorum.
Exit polls showed that 10 per cent of those who voted were Democrats, 50 per cent of whom voted for Santorum in hopes that he'll be the Republican candidate for President and be chopped liver for Barack Obama to chew up.
It turns out that Santorum spent the last few days of the Michigan campaign financing robocalls to Democrats to come out and vote, since Michigan is one of those states where any registered voter can participate.
It didn't work, but it was close.
Meanwhile, Romney's 20-point (47 per cent to 27 per cent) win over Santorum in Arizona was no surprise, but if gives huge momentum to Romney for next week's "Super Tuesday" when 10 states hold primaries or caucuses.
It turns out Romney's secret weapon in this campaign -- which none of his rivals can match -- is the economy. Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul have really never worked in the private sector, while Romney's greatest achievements have been in the private sector, running companies, salvaging companies, creating jobs and saving jobs -- as well as serving a term as Governor of Massachusetts.
His rivals have mostly been involved in spending money -- taxpayer's money. Santorum, apparently, before he lost his Senate seat in 2006, voted some 50 times for increased government spending, and voted zero times to cut spending -- not an encouraging reason to vote for him in hard economic times.
Virtually every poll shows the greatest concern for Americans is the economy -- that is, keeping their jobs. Totally understandable -- and President Obama's Achilles heel.
Critics have sniped at Romney for belabouring his business record, and have urged him to "connect" with average Americans. But he's resolutely stuck to his economic credentials -- rescuing the Salt Lake City Olympics and Bain Capital achievements. And It resonates. So far, in states he hasn't won, he's come in second.
Now that Gingrich has bitten the dust, and Ron Paul is Ron Paul, Romney increasingly looks like the perfect Republican candidate for tough economic times: Low key, businesslike, confident, and competent. Mr. Excitement he ain't.
Democrats try to point out that the job situation is improving somewhat in the U.S. Maybe, but it also indicates many Americans have stopped looking for work. Obama has failed to inspire Americans -- as he did in his 2008 election campaign.
Since being president he has put America hopelessly in debt, spent trillions, apologized for America's past actions, declared many intentions, but has achieved little -- except winning a Nobel Peace Prize on the basis of great expectations that never materialized. Even his chosen war in Afghanistan has turned to sludge.
All of which makes Romney look the ideal alternative.
There's no ideal candidate that will please all Republicans -- Tea Partiers, Evangelicals, social conservatives, moderates, etc. But all the present candidates are conservatives, and all will likely come together. Romney has shown he can take on any one of them, has developed a cutting edge, and will be formidable against Obama if he get the GOP nomination.
Canadians should be comfortable with Romney. More than any of the others he seems Canadian, and expresses values most of us aspire to and respect.
Interestingly, his Mormon faith seems increasing irrelevant in this campaign which is now his to lose if he blunders -- which is not one of his failings.