Mitt Romney accuses Rick Santorum of "a new low" as GOP candidates fight for Michigan primary votes today - live
9.49am: The Guardian's Adam Gabbatt is out meeting Republican voters who are visiting polling stations in Oakland County – the key part of the state for Mitt Romney, who needs to do well in the wealthier suburbs if he wants to carry Michigan:
It's been a quiet morning so far at Holy Name School in the suburb of Birmingham, Oakland County. By 8.45am, 44 people had passed through the doors, a turnout described by staff as "slow".
With such a sluggish turnout, the highlights have been rather lacklustre. "About 10 minutes ago six or seven people came within eight minutes," one volunteer ventured.
Mitt Romney won 47% of the vote in Oakland County in 2008 – his best performance anywhere in Michigan. Here in Birmingham, an affluent area around 20 miles of downtown Detroit, it would seem he's set to do well again.
"I think this country needs a turnaround specialist and a business guy," said Kathryn Narayan, a 46-year-old part-time software designer. "We need someone who understands and has worked in the global economy."
Asked if Romney's opposition to the motor industry bailout in 2008 – he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times under the header "Let Detroit go bankrupt" – was a drawback for her, Narayan said "Not at all".
"I didn't support it either. Markets need to work the way they're intended to work."
Thomas Goad, 79, worked for General Motors "all his life", but that didn't stop him voting for Mitt Romney just after 9am.
"I've known him the longest and I trust him the most," Goad said, adding that he "was not worried" about Romney's stance on his former industry. "I never considered anyone else. Rick Santorum for some reason he just turns me off with his speeches."
Mary, who declined to give her last name or age but described herself as "a senior", had voted by absentee vote "a month and a half ago". She went for Rick Santorum as "we need someone who can slough away the debris and get down to issues".
Sam, who works at an advertising agency on the outskirts of Detroit, voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but plumped for Romney today, a move he said was financially driven: "As a couple, we're right in the sweet spot in terms of absolutely the highest taxes. We're almost at the point where there's no incentive to do better.
"I try to separate the emotionally charged views Republicans can have from what I think is the best economic position. The problem is Republicans wave the flag of abortion etc, but if they could move beyond that they might do better.
9.30am: It's voting day in the Michigan primary, with the result on a knife-edge according to the polls and Mitt Romney taking to the airwaves to accuse Rick Santorum of "dirty tricks".
Arizona also votes today, but that state and its winner-take-all pool of delegates is confidently expected to go to Romney. In Michigan, though, six polls since the weekend all show Romney and Santorum within the margin of error, and well ahead of Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
A sign of the closeness of the fight saw Romney appear on Fox News this morning to attack his rival's calls to Democrats urging them to vote against Romney. "This is a new low for his campaign and that's saying something," said Romney.
We'll be covering all the day's action here live, and then as polls close we'll be live blogging the results as they come in.
Here's Ryan Devereaux with a summary of the state of the race:
• Today's the big day, Republican voters are heading to the polls for primaries in Arizona and Michigan. Mitt Romney is hoping to win both states and relieve all doubts about his viability as a candidate. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, is banking on his "true conservative" narrative to derail the Romney campaign and prolong the battle for the GOP presidential nomination. While Romney is strongly favored in Arizona, the contest in Michigan is both close and crucial, coming just one week before Super Tuesday.
• Public Policy Polling's final survey before Michigan's contest noted a slight shift in momentum for Santorum last night. According to PPP, Santorum holds "the smallest of leads with 38% to 37% for Mitt Romney, 14% for Ron Paul, and 9% for Newt Gingrich."
• The Santorum camp has taken to calling Democratic households in Michigan, urging them to come out and vote today. Democrats are allowed to vote in Michigan's primary by temporarily changing their party affiliation. Santorum is playing on the working class angle in his Michigan calls with a message that states: "Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street billionaire buddies but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker, and we're not going to let Romney get away with it." The effort seems to have made something of an impact. According to PPP, Romney leads with actual Republican voters, 43-38. But Santorum's up 47-10 with Democratic voters, although they are only 8% of likely voters.
• Meanwhile Romney has received the support of a prominent Michigan family. This morning a dozen members of the DeVos and Van Andel families released a statement formally endorsing the former governor, describing him as a "leader who stands for economic freedom, hope and opportunity."
• The remaining two candidates in the contest, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, haven't given up. Yesterday, word came that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson had granted the Gingrich camp another infusion of cash, this time enough to pay for advertising in seven states. Gingrich has chosen to largely sit out of the Michigan, choosing instead to focus on upcoming southern states. Paul, meanwhile, drew large crowds of supporters in Michigan last night and has also set his sights on upcoming states.
• Gingrich, a self-described "historian" and "grandiose" thinker, has offered a candid assessment of the war-torn nation of Afghanistan. According to Politico, Gingrich said it's not possible to "fix" Afghanistan because Afghans "have spent several thousand years hating foreigners". Americans have now "become the new foreigners", the former speaker pointed out. According to Gingrich, it's time for Americans to be straight-up with the "miserable" people of Afghanistan, "there are some problems where you have to say, 'You know, you are going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life because you clearly don't want to learn from me how to be unmiserable.'"US elections 2012MichiganMitt RomneyRick SantorumArizonaNewt GingrichRon PaulRepublican presidential nomination 2012RepublicansUS politicsUnited StatesRichard Adamsguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds