"There's another whole group of people who say, 'Look, I'm not really going to pay too much attention until it's our turn,'" said John Clark, chairman of the political science department at Western Michigan University. "For one thing, they don't know who the candidates are going to be by the time you get to that particular state; and for another thing, the candidates aren't paying attention to a state like Michigan until it's our turn."

Beat reporters, political junkies, academics and active voters who have followed the Republican primaries since May 2011 likely know the final four candidates' platforms and voting records, but it's unlikely that all working-class Americans have spent time fretting about Romney's tax returns, Newt Gingrich's ex-wife, Ron Paul's foreign policy or Santorum's legislative history on earmarks.

"The spots that get magnified: one of those spots is on some of the social issue stuff," Clark said. "That's not speaking to the concerns of Michigan voters and yet that's where we've seen the campaign go nationally; Michigan is just the next stop on that campaign."

If that's the case, Romney can hope to connect in the next week with the broad number of Michiganders who are concerned more about their paychecks than anything else.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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