Michigan Primary Live Blog

For those who don’t know, I have a day job that includes running campaigns. I’m from Michigan, and have managed several statewide races.

11:09 Central: Romney Will Win Fewer Delegates Than in 2008, Maybe Fewer than Santorum

I’m calling it a night, but one last comment: In 2008 Romney won all but two of Michigan’s congressional districts. Winning Congressional districts is significant, because Michigan delegates are awarded for winning the state overall, but also for winning Congressional districts. And looking at the county results–Michigan isn’t reporting results by Congressional districts tonight–it looks likely that Romney will leave Michigan with fewer delegates than he took in 2008. In fact, since such a huge share of Romney’s margin of victory comes from the wealthiest communities of Oakland County, there’s a good chance Santorum will lose the overall vote but win the majority of the congressional districts, and thus get as many or more delegates than Romney.

10:38 Central: One Sixth of Romney’s Margin from Wealthiest Community in Michigan

Bloomfield Township is Michigan’s wealthiest community, but it’s not very big, only 41,000 people. Mitt Romney 6,767 to 1,642, for a net vote margin of 5,125 votes. With 93% of the vote counted, Romney’s total margin is currently at 31,000, and that will probably shrink. In a state of just short of 10 million people, a community of just 41,000 has provided Romney at least one-sixth of his total margin of victory.

9:56 Central: Look Past the Percentage to the Margin

With 84% of the vote reported, Mitt Romney is at 41%. I’m sure his campaign is spinning that as an improvement over his performance in 2008, when he won Michigan with 39%. But look past the percentage (and set aside for a moment that in 2008 his main opponent was a war hero who hadn’t attacked John Kennedy and contraception), and look at the margin. Right now, he’s ahead by a bit over 3 points. In 2008, he won by 9 points. Again, against a war hero who hadn’t attacked John Kennedy or contraception.

Oakland County Has Blue Collar Communities, and Santorum is Winning Them

Until the collapse and near death of the US auto industry, some of the communities of Oakland county, northwest of Detroit, were among the wealthiest in the country. These are the fabulously wealthy “real streets of America” where Mitt Romney spent his childhood. In pundit shorthand, Oakland county is “upscale,” while neighboring Macomb is “blue collar.” But it’s not that clean a divide. Romney is swamping Santorum in the wealthy Oakland County communities like Bloomfield Township, West Bloomfield and Orchard Lake. But Oakland County also has communities like Pontiac with impoverished minority communities, and Southfield and parts of Farmington Hills, where the Black middle class leaving Detroit settled. And a lot of Oakland County is white and blue collar. And the early results from those communities–Waterford Township, Groveland Township, Hazel Park–Santorum is doing well. That’s good news for him, because he wasn’t able to come close to matching Romney in the expensive Detroit media market.

8:33 Central: Wayne County Has a Ton of Republican Votes

National pundits and analysts are emphasizing Oakland and Macomb counties in the Detroit are, and Kent (Grand Rapids) and Ottawa counties in western Michigan. They’re not wrong to look to those counties. But they’re missing something basic: Wayne County, which does have almost exclusively Democratic Detroit, will probably be the second biggest pool of votes in the Republican primary.

In the 2008 Republican primary, Wayne County accounted for more than one out of every nine votes. Oakland county, just to the north of Detroit, prosperous and the second most populous county in Michigan, accounted for 133,000 votes. Wayne was next, with 99,000 votes, well more than the 77,000 from the other northern suburban county, more working class Macomb, and the 67,000 from Kent.

Detroit is a bit less than half of Wayne county, and in 2008 Obama won it 97% to 2% for McCain. A few other overwhelmingly African American suburbs were similarly Democratic, and most other suburbs voted for Obama. But plenty of large communities, like heavily Arab-American Dearborn, working class Taylor, Romulus and Wyandotte and  other reliably Democratic communities are still big enough to deliver a lot of Republican votes. And there are other large communities like Livonia and Canton that are Republican, as are the Grosse Pointes. So yes, look to the west, and the norther suburbs, but Wayne is huge.

8:06 Central:The UAW Didn’t Turn Over their Membership Lists 

A few minutes ago Howard Fineman reported that the Romney campaign is accusing the Santorum campaign of using the United Auto Worker’s lists to call UAW members to get them out to vote. Fineman is being credulous. This is bullshit on two levels. First, it would be profoundly stupid of the UAW to turn over their lists to a Republican presidential campaign. I used to work for the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO. I’ve dealt with UAW lists, and they (rightly) protect their lists like there a holy grail. There’s no way they’d turn those lists over to ANY campaign, much less a Republican campaign.

The other issue is legal. It would be illegal for the UAW to turn over their lists to the Santorum campaign unless the Santorum campaign paid some sort of fair market value for the list. I’ll bet Mitt Romney $10,000 that when the Santorum finance reports come out there will be no expenditure to the UAW for purchase of lists.

7:49 Central

Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary in 2008, but it was not a typical result for the Romney family in Michigan politics post-George Romney. The political patriarch resigned as governor to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 1969. Since then, a member of the Romney family other than Mitt has run for statewide office 5 times. In 1970 George’s wife Lenore was the Republican nominee for the US Senate, but she lost to Democratic incumbent Phil Hart (after whom the Hart Senate Office Building was named). In 1994 Ronna Romney—ex-wife of Mitt’s brother Scott—ran for the US Senate, but lost in the Republican primary to eventual one-term Senator Spencer Abraham. In 1996 she ran again, this time winning the primary, but was beaten like a drum that November by Democratic incumbent Carl Levin. In 1998, Scott Romney decided to run for attorney general. He had the backing of then-governor John Engler. In Michigan, the attorney general nominees are decided at the party conventions, held a few weeks after the August primary. At the convention, the conservative activists, led by Republican national committeeman Chuck Yob, defeated Romney’s bid. They nominated a mediocre candidate who lost in November to the previously unknown Democrat Jennifer Granholm, who parlayed her one term as AG in to two terms as Governor. Romney was later appointed to a university board, a bottom-of-the-ticket position to which he was elected to his first full term but then lost in 2008. So it’s questionable whether the Romney name gives Mitt much of an advantage in Michigan.

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