A McCain victory, though, can not be taken for granted. The polls show a race that is far too tight to call with Romney enjoying considerable support in the state where his father was a beloved, three-term governor. Michigan with its troubled auto-industry also allows Romney to flag up his business turnaround experience as well as dinging McCain for his stance on cutting carbon emissions to deal with global warming: something that many in Detroit believe—wrongly—will be harmful to the auto industry. Add to this an expected snow storm which will likely depress turnout, which favours Romney, and it is easy to imagine the former Massachusetts governor boasting about winning the gold on Tuesday night.
If Romney wins, the South Carolina Republican primary on Saturday becomes even more crucial. A McCain setback in Michigan could pave the way for Mike Huckabee, the Christian populist, or even Fred Thompson, the Senator turned actor, to make a major play for the state. Romney could also be boosted by a better than expected showing there and an expected win in the Nevada caucus. In these circumstances, Rudy Giuliani also comes back into the game. With the field so unsettled, it is possible that Giuliani’s strategy of relying on a win in Florida on January 29th to set him up for a string of victories on February 5th could just pay off.