January 15, 2008, - 10:14 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Well, I can’t be right all of the time. And tonight, I was proven very wrong in my prediction that John McCain would take Michigan, with Romney barely taking second place over Huckabee. Wrong on all counts.
With about 70% of the vote counted in the Great Lakes State as I write this, Romney won by almost 10 percentage points over McCain. The count is currently 39% for Romney, 30% for McCain, 16% for Huckabee.
Even Romney didn’t think he’d win, as evidenced by his many backtracks about needing to win Michigan and expecting it. We were both wrong.
So, why were my predictions wrong and why did Romney beat McCain? Here’s what I think happened:
* The Daily Kos: Say what you want about far leftist blogger Markos Moulitsas, but he is THE most influential blogger on the other side of the aisle. His over-the-weekend urging of Democrats to vote for Romney in Michigan (reasoning that Romney will be the weakest viable GOP candidate) worked to some degree, helping Romney over the top.
* Romney’s Deep Pockets: Mitt Romney outspent every candidate geometrically. We saw ads from him over and over and over and over for several months, without any other candidate crowding the airwaves. Romney finally dropped his ads cheerleading China and produced more sympathetic ads appealing to down-and-out Michiganians, of which there are many, especially among blue-collar Reagan Democrats, who were more likely to vote in the GOP Primary.
I don’t believe people bought into his “native son” pitch. We know he isn’t one. He hasn’t lived here in decades and no-one remembers his ineffective RINO Governor father. Romney’s win had nothing to do with his campaign consultants, the sleazy Packer family and Sterling Corporation. They lose pretty much every campaign they run in our state. And Romney dropped a huge chunk of cha-ching with them which was wasted.
* Anti-Huckabee Club for Growth Ads: In the week or so, we saw a lot of anti-Mike Huckabee ads on TV. They were very effective comparing the high-taxing Huckabee with Bill Clinton as Arkansas Gov. This took away votes from Huckabee, and I believe, drove many of those religious Christian voters away from Huckabee and into the Romney camp, where they like his values versus McCain’s more “moderate” ones. Romney did well in the Western part of the state, where Evangelicals have their base. So much for the view that Evangelicals are “intolerant” and won’t vote for a Mormon. Don’t believe it.
* Disarray in the McCain Michigan Campaign/Mike Cox’s In-and-Out-and-In: Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, the guy who allowed illegal aliens to get Driver’s Licenses in Michigan for five years, was John McCain’s campaign manager. That is, until he jumped off the campaign, last year, when it looked like McCain’s campaign was washed up.
Cox is not a very faithful guy–to his wife (he held a press conference about one of his apparently many extramarital affairs) and his candidates. Suddenly, when it looked like McCain would win again, Mike Cox was back with McCain, taking credit and mugging for the cameras all over the place. With constantly unfaithful “leadership” like this running his campaign, it’s no wonder McCain’s campaign didn’t do as well as expected.
* Confusion over the “Uncommitted” v. Hillary slots on the Democratic Primary Ballot reduced Crossover by Dems: Last minute pushes by prominent Democrats and Obama/Edwards supporters about the “Uncommitted” slot on the Michigan ballot (other than Hillary and Kucinich, that was the only other choice–Obama and Edwards were not on the ballot) were effective. Senator Carl Levin and Obama backers but also pushed for people to vote against Hillary by voting “Uncommitted,” but Hillary backers raised questions about where the “Uncommitted” percentage of delegates would go. I didn’t think that would work and was too little, too late. But I’ve come to learn that you can’t underestimate the effectiveness of disenfranchisement conspiracies in Detroit and within key Democratic constituencies. A lot of elderly Blacks, who favor Hillary (versus younger Blacks who go for Obama but don’t vote in big numbers), got scared that “Uncommitted” delegates would nix their votes for Hillary. Because of this, Dems who’d have crossed over stayed in their own primary to ensure no shenanigans. Because of that, there simply wasn’t the crossover vote I had predicted there would be, but for the Daily Kos constituency. Hillary voters and her Obama/Edwards opponents slugged it out–at this time, she gets 58% of the vote with uncommitted at 37%.
* “Straight Talk” vs. Mitt-y Fantasy Talk About the Auto Industry: Michigan’s economy relies on the auto industry fifty times more than any other state’s economy relies on any single industry. With so many auto workers laid off and unemployed and with the nation’s highest unemployment rate, people want to believe not only that things will get better but that they will return back to the way they were. Mitt Romney fed into that with his Walter Mitty-style fantasies that the jobs will come back. John McCain told the truth when he said those jobs will not come back, a negative message. And I don’t think voters wanted to face that cold, hard truth. They’d rather vote for Mitt whose more positive message of a deceptively rosy outlook was more appealing.
So, I was wrong, and that’s why. While I don’t like that Romney’s pan-Hezbollah allies got a boost here in Michigan and that Romney wasn’t defeated, it makes it an even more exciting, wide open race–and a boost to Rudy Giuliani’s Florida strategy.
Yes, we have democracy here. And democracy is not always predictable.
But remember, Romney had to win here. It’s not a huge victory, but a relief for his campaign. Will it give him any momentum? Very limited, I predict.
Tags: Anti-Huckabee Club for Growth Ads, Attorney General, Bill Clinton, campaign manager, Carl Levin, China, Debbie Schlussel Well, Detroit, Florida, Governor, Hizballah, ineffective RINO Governor, John McCain, Kos, Michigan, Mike Cox, Mike Huckabee, Republican Party, Romney camp, Rudy Giuliani, Sterling Corporation