Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January 15: Michigan primary

Romney 39
McCain 30
Huckabee 16
Paul 7
Thompson 4
Giuliani 3
Clinton 55
"Uncommitted" 40
Kucinich 4

A brief note on the Democratic side: Hillary got exactly what she wanted by not withdrawing from the Michigan ballot. Political analysts know that a 40% vote for nobody at all is an acute embarrassment to Hillary. (Exit polls indicated a split of roughly 45% Clinton/40% Obama/15% Edwards.) The general TV-watching public doesn't know the minutae of the Michigan primary; it only sees Hillary put up next to Romney as the "winner".

The "Uncommitted" campaign, despite being the butt of jokes (you can read a faux Uncommitted victory speech here), must have been well organized to win such a large share of the Democratic votes. I had mild fantasies about Dennis Kucinich breaking the 10% barrier; alas, it did not come to pass.

Romney won the Republican primary by running for governor of Michigan. With his back to the wall (it was win-or-go-home for Romney in his putative home state, just as Clinton and McCain desperately needed to win New Hampshire to stay afloat), he hammered at Michigan's awful economy and promoted himself as a sound manager. That he is - at this stage, even I would prefer Romney to Jennifer Granholm as Michigan's governor - but he is little else.

John McCain, in marked contrast to Romney, wasn't running a Michigan-specific campaign; he was running a national campaign where Michigan happened to be the next stop. McCain would have liked to have won (as did Sally and I, who both voted for him), but he's probably content with having finished a strong second.

As a lifelong Michigander, I reliably believe that Mike Huckabee's 16% share of the vote approximates the percentage of Michigan Republicans who are both sincere evangelical Christians and anti-globalists. Huckabee seemed quite disappointed that he couldn't capture many votes outside of his natural base. South Carolina is a do-or-die proposition for him; anything other than a win there makes the Republican side into a McCain vs. Romney race.

Ron Paul, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani need to win over actual, live voters (yes, they are, but not many) before I take any of them seriously. Thompson is really pushing for a top-three finish in South Carolina; if he doesn't make it - and I doubt he will - then he's most likely done.

To close, has a hilarious one-paragraph synopsis of the three leading Republicans:

"In a nutshell, Romney is the favorite of the Republican establishment and Wall St. He's a successful multimillionaire and an experienced and competent manager. McCain is the favorite of the national security Republicans. He knows more about military affairs and foreign relations than all the other candidates in both parties combined. Huckabee is the favorite of the evangelicals. He believes in Jesus, but he doesn't believe in abortion, gay marriage, or evolution. It is going to be a wild ride this week."

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