January 9, 2008

Michigan Will Be - Ah - Interesting

Hatched by Dafydd

Let's start with (you'll pardon the obscene language) the polling...

At the moment, the RCP average for MI has Mitt Romney up over John McCain by 0.8%, over Mike Huckabee by 1.3%, over Rudy Giuliani by 10.0%, and over Rip Van Thompson by 15.0%. In other words, the top three candidates are tied.

That includes polls from December; however, even if we only look at polls this year, the top three are just as tight: McCain at 23.5, Romney at 21.0, and Huckabee at 20.5. The span from top to bottom is still within the margin of error.

Now for the structural dilemma: Michigan is one of those states that has an open primary: I believe any voter, no matter what his party affiliation, can request the ballot for any party's race. In other words, not just Independents but also (I think) Democrats could, if they wished, vote in the Republican primary in Michigan.

At the same time, both Barack Obama and John Edwards (not to mention Joe Biden and Bill Richardson -- who Drudge is reporting has just dropped out) withdrew from the Michigan primary last year and were thwarted in their attempts to get back on the ballot. Thus, the only top-tier Democrat in the Michigan race is Hillary Clinton.

Because the Democratic race is a foregone conclusion (and is worth exactly zero delegates anyway, since the DNC chose to strip the state), it's entirely possible that an angry mob of pitchfork-brandishing Democrats will join the bored mob of frozen cherry-pie wielding Independents and vote in the GOP primary, just to make mischief.

But on the third hand, John McCain is not the immortal beloved of Indies in Michigan that he is in New Hampshire; so it's not clear who this potential spoil of lefties will support: If they imagine that John McCain would be the tougher Republican to beat (because he would draw more non-Republicans than other candidates), they might pour their support into his chief rival, Mitt Romney. Or into the coffers of Huckabee, reasoning that a religious zealot like him can't possibly win.

But on the fourth hand, even if McCain or Huckabee wins Michigan on the strength of non-Republican voters, that doesn't really tell us much about the future... since in the mega-states (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), none is an open-primary state, I believe. In the others, you have to be a registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary (which is as it ought to be, forever and ever, amen).

A more appropriate metric for predicting the rest of the race is to look at who wins the Michigan race among Republican voters only... particularly since the RNC cut Michigan's GOP delegate count in half, so it doesn't make that big a contribution to the overall total.

On the fifth hand (is this a centipede?), Michigan is undergoing a "one-state recession;" and in New Hampshire, McCain won fairly strongly among those who were worried about the economy, while Romney did better among those who were not worried.

On the sixth hand (I think it's a millipede), Mike Huckabee would be cutting into this same group of hardscrabble voters; if he and McCain split it, that would be good for Romney.

On the seventh hand, if Romney doesn't win in Michigan, then most likely, one of the other two top candidates will have two wins, and might vault into the lead in delegates.

And having reached the seventh hand of the seventh voter, we may as well stop here... with the conclusion that Michigan will be -- as stated -- interesting.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 9, 2008, at the time of 10:27 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Baggi

I think Mitt Romney is a pretty smart fellow. He's definately smarter than I am, but that's not saying much.

But his current strategy really confuses me. He's going around telling everyone he's going to win Michigan. How the heck does the guy expect to win Michigan when there's no one for the non-conservatives to vote for on the other side?

He won the conservative vote by a rather large margin in N.H. (By 8%) and i'm sure he'll win the conservative vote in Michigan too.

But will he also pick up the Independent and Democrat vote as well?

Maybe. Maybe he's a lot smarter than I am. Maybe the Democrats think he's the easiest guy to beat in the general so they'll vote for him as a "spoiler". I really don't know.

But it sure seems like he's putting all his eggs in the Michigan basket and with so much potential for trouble, it doesn't seem like a very good idea.

The above hissed in response by: Baggi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2008 12:50 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

Illinois has pure open primaries -- party affiliation is never mentioned and you can request any ballot you want from election to election. But there are two dynamics which will prevent Democrat cross-over: 1)The favorite son Obama vs. the Rahm Emmanuel favorite Hillary; and 2) the pressure on ward committeemen and precinct captains to "deliver the vote" and that means by the widest margin possible.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2008 4:57 AM

The following hissed in response by: Scott

The only negative hiss I have is about the idea that Huckabee and McCain are campaigning for the same voters. While much of their policies and statements are similar, I don't think the appeal is the same. Huckabee's appeal, love it or hate it, is a moral, religious appeal. McCain's is ... something else. Not immoral, per se, but certainly not religious.

Michigan is thought of as a secular state, not a particularly religious state. I don't know to what extent that identification extends to the MI Republican Party. I would think that the percentage that supports Huckabee (it looks like about 25%) might represent the total of the Religious Right in Michigan. Probably not the same people who support McCain.

If, however, I am wrong, and both Huckabee and McCain are campaigning for the same votes, it's an anti-Romney crowd. If the anti-Romney crowd is that large, it does not bode well for Romney.

Baggi, Romney probably did not plan to put all eggs in single basket, but events in Iowa and New Hampshire have shaken many eggs out of those respective baskets. Michigan is what he has left.

While it sounds good on the campaign, I'm not sure that Romney supporters can say that he won the conservative vote. The difference between McCain and Romney was slightly more than 13,000 votes. Huckabee and Thompson combined pulled about twice that many votes, about 29,000 votes. A few of those might be conservative.

The above hissed in response by: Scott [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2008 5:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: oarmaswalker

The reason big media likes Mc Cain is that he's hillary with the war. While hillary is Mc Cain without the war. So it makes the election a campaign on the war. Their politics show no differences, otherwise. A vote for Mc Cain is a vote for the democrats. He is against the tax cuts, he's for big government, he's for liberal judges, he's for unionized funding of the democratic party.

The above hissed in response by: oarmaswalker [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2008 6:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: Seaberry

"Rip Van Thompson"?!? Hey, he's the 'Strong-n-Silent' type! Perhaps too Silent... ;-)

The above hissed in response by: Seaberry [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2008 8:12 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Romney thinks he can win because his father was a popular governor of the state. He's probably right.

I'd give this to Romney, with a strong McCain showing. Huck will be 3rd or 4th, and everyone will start wondering when he will win some actual delegates.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2008 9:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 01/10/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2008 10:42 AM

The following hissed in response by: cdquarles


Some states are open primary because voter registration in said state registers a voter, not a voter's party affiliation. Alabama is such a state. When you vote in a primary, you swear that you will only vote in the same party's runoff (if any) and will support the same party in the general election (how that's enforced I don't know, but I do know that the respective parties are trying to enforce the loyalty oath for officeholders and qualifying candidates for office).

The above hissed in response by: cdquarles [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 10, 2008 8:27 PM

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