Michigan’s role in the 2008 election
I have this American Spectator blog post in my recent web history, pointing out our own state’s place in the national scene; the promise was that “Michigan will play a large role”. The analysis was from back in January and I hope I can say honestly now, without a bit of hubris or prideful self-accreditation, let alone historical revisionism, that I saw it coming. “It” being that the notion that Michigan was vastly important is fodder.
The reasons I was eventually right were different than I suspected they would.
All along one must keep in mind preparation of the general election. Barack Obama had taken Michigan in vain in the Primary yet as predicted the greater populations in massive urban counties, as well as unionist and university-populated communities, swarmed to vote Democrat, as is the tradition in this state, rendering any idea that the Primary actions would inspire General reactions meaningless. Barack Obama would call all Michigan Democrats “Dog rapists” in January and the results would have been the same. I am not saying that people are “stupid” or “sheep”. Barack Obama merely exists in November as the only viable choice to make a definitive statement against the Republican morass of the past eight years. That is to say when the Democrats will vote for their guy out of allegiance and the Moderates refuse to support even a Moderate Republican out of rebellion against the Republicans, it is unreasonable to assume that who the Democrat is even matters. When the Democrat in question has a historical skin color that compounds the problem.
Anyone who predicted that Barack Obama’s skin color would lead to America voting him down, even as an option, is a cynic who should be flogged then exiled, and I extend that prescription to those old farts sitting around Barnes & Noble.
I am going to condemn Michigan Republican organizational problems on a different time, particularly as I learn about them, as doing so benefits me, and more relevantly, how a weekly column here on RightMichigan fits with that theme.
How can we claim that what we do in January contributes to the Presidential election when the victor of the Michigan Presidential Primary ended up not being the Republican nominee; that Republican nominee counted not his time and experience in Michigan as any that developed his image or perception or persona in any amount that contributed to the Presidential race against the Democrat. Casting delegates to a candidate means something when somehow he racks up enough wins, states, that he becomes a nominee. Being a delegates then means something specific only when the Primaries were competitive enough to bring more than one potential candidate to Convention, but I am likely wrong on the point of being a delegate. It looks like fun after all, and that means something too. Fun is so rare in politics.
Yet for all the years that John McCain invested in infrastructure and political alliances in Michigan, none of that stopped John McCain from withdrawing from Michigan in October, removing needed money, nor did that silence the public withdrawal announcements, which crippled our Get Out The Vote efforts, which could only contribute to the defeats of Congressmen Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg, as well as lowered the percentages of Jack Hoogendyk in his US Senate race against the Gargoyle Perched Atop the Cathedral of Bureaucracy. Moving the Primary forward to compete with Iowa and New Hampshire highlighted the point that it is stupid that those two states are always first in the Presidential Primary yet all this was an attempt to compete for attention with two older brothers that never lose. The Michigan Republicans lost delegates (I am sure they were restored, not that it was worth anything) and those who wished to ignore Michigan did ignore Michigan. The truth of the matter is that Michigan granted Mitt Romney his needed Primary First Win. New Hampshire gave it to John McCain and Iowa landed in the lap of Mike Huckabee. We could ask the question that if Mitt Romney was the Presidential nominee, or the Vice-Presidential nominee, would Michigan vote Republican on Election Day? If Mitt Romney was the Vice Presidential candidate would Michigan have been abandoned to unionists and Sleeping Judge advertisements? We really will never know.
Part of the problem is that no matter how much of a son of George Romney the Massachusetts Governor was, so was Scott Romney and that did not help him with his smaller statewide race (if you cannot remember what is was or bother to look it up, I won’t bother to share).
All the energy of a Romney in Michigan did not matter for Huckabee and Fred Thompson in other states; John McCain eventually wore the Mormon down, caught up, took him out. The standard story is that Mitt Romney’s religion was used as a weapon against him, the unpopularity compared to Mike Huckabee’s pastoral status, and between Mike Huckabee’s religious attacks and John McCain’s status as elder statesman… I have spoken to a lot of people assume willful collusion between John McCain and Mike Huckabee against Mitt Romney. I wonder if Senator Sam Brownback’s early attacks on Mitt Romney’s views on abortion had any negative impact. I doubt anyone will ever know.
I hate state Primaries like that because it seems like a domino effect of neglect and absence. Fred Thompson, for instance, picked to fight in Iowa and South Carolina. That was poor. If Fred Thompson might have made a better candidate for the actual post-Convention race, we will never know because he never tried to make the case with all gusto. Michigan did not contribute to that. A state does not make a difference in the term of all candidates if not all candidates choose to make a case there. That often leads to a bunch of disappointed supporters. Fred Thompson will survive that. Mike Huckabee campaigned here. He benefits too.
Going back to the American Spectator view on our 2008 chances. It was just a January 5th view on a January Primary, but it was so far off it is ridiculous. John McCain won New Hampshire and Mitt Romney carried Michigan. Mitt Romney’s name was alive for many weeks, yet he lost after a competitive Primary race. John McCain’s name never really became the great champion among the Republican organizations in this state, I reckon, and his institutional supporters did not have enough clout in the national McCain campaign to prevent the organization’s cutting and running, and “redeployment” of campaign employees to other states. It is probably just a crackpot conspiracy theory that Mitt Romney’s victory in the Michigan Presidential Primary is a root cause of John McCain’s withdrawal and eventual defeat for Michigan’s Electoral Votes, but that theory is mine nonetheless.
Cross-posted at RightMichigan.com