Hillary’s 55% victory in Michigan is of significant importance because her only rival was Non-Committed, meaning that should the Primaries come to an end with a narrow margin, her rivals can use the non-committeds in MI to tip the scales… and there goes 25 delegates…
Clinton Scores Lonely Victory in Michigan’s Hobbled Democratic Primary
By Marie Horrigan, CQ Staff
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton headed off a potentially embarrassing situation Tuesday when she won Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary — a contest, tarnished by a scheduling dispute between the national and state party organizations, in which she was the only top-tier Democratic candidate on the ballot.
Clinton ended up with 55 percent of the vote in the lightly attended Democratic contest, with 40 percent of the voters choosing the “uncommitted” line.
The peculiar contest resulted from the hard line taken by the Democratic National Committee against Michigan’s rule-breaking Jan. 15 primary date, which ultimately led to the national party’s revocation of all 156 of the state’s delegates to the party’s August national convention. The DNC’s demand that most states, including Michigan, stick to a Feb. 5 starting date for the presidential nominating process prompted Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards — Clinton’s chief rivals for the nomination — to withdraw their names from the ballot.
Clinton, though she observed the party’s ban on active campaigning for the Michigan primary, left her name on the ballot; she was accompanied only by two severe longshots, Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel , and Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd , whose very poor performance in the campaign-opening Iowa caucuses Jan. 3 caused him to drop out of the race. As a result, voters who might otherwise have preferred to support Obama or Edwards had only the alternative of voting “uncommitted.”
Despite these circumstances, Clinton’s campaign declared a significant victory. “Tonight Michigan Democrats spoke loudly for a new beginning,” Clinton Campaign Manager Patti Solis Doyle said in a statement. She added: “Your voices matter. And as president, Hillary Clinton will not only keep listening, but will make sure your voice is always heard.”
The diminished status of the Michigan Democratic primary was underscored by the fact that even while the votes were being counted, the three remaining top-tier candidates for the party’s nomination — Clinton, Obama and Edwards — were participating in a national televised debate in Las Vegas in advance of the Nevada caucuses scheduled for Saturday.
It was clear that the scheduling flap depressed turnout in the Democratic primary, well below levels that would have been expected in a state where Democrats hold the governor’ office and both U.S. Senate seats and where Democratic nominees have prevailed in four consecutive elections. According to complete, unofficial returns, turnout for the simultaneous Republican primary exceeded that for the Democratic contest by more than a quarter million voters. Former Massachusetts governor (and Michigan native) Mitt Romney finished first ahead of Arizona Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary.
But the state Democratic Party declared Tuesday’s primary a victory in its effort to break the overwhelming influence that the “first in the nation” Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary have long maintained in the presidential nominating process.
“It’s been painful and disappointing, I don’t want to minimize that, but I think we have expanded the national debate about reforming the system,” Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer told CQ Politics in the wake of his party’s hobbled primary.
“I’m hoping that because of what we’ve done this campaign season, that by 2012 we’ll have reform and no state will be guaranteed the right of always going first,” he added.
Although the national party has stripped the state of its delegates, Michigan Democrats insist they will have their full delegation restored at the national convention in Denver because of Michigan’s importance as a battleground state in the general election.
Brewer added that the skewed turnout for the primary was not an omen for the partisan contest to come. “I can tell you regardless of turnout tonight there’s enormous energy among Democrats in this state just as there is elsewhere in this country, and I expect that we’re going to have record high turnout in the fall,” he predicted.