By Joel Wendland
Of Michigan's more than 7,141,000 registered voters, only about 1,470,000 went to the polls, or about 20% voter turnout. TV people talked about it being snowy and cold, but it really wasn't so bad. It was worse in Iowa for the caucus, as I understand it.
Sen. Clinton won the most votes on the Democratic side, as only she and Kucinich were on the ballot. She did not campaign here; only Kucinich did. So for the most part this was an uncontested election.
Yet Clinton garnered nearly as many votes as the Republican front-runner.
Interestingly, "uncommitted" Democrats scored about 40% suggesting some dissatisfaction with Clinton's candidacy and somewhat embarrassing for her, but not a national news story to be sure. Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor) went "uncommitted," and three of the states other biggest counties – Wayne County (Detroit), Kent County (Grand Rapids), and Oakland County (Detroit suburbs) – edged for Clinton by slim majorities, suggesting that she has a lot of work to do to convince Michigan voters – both Black and white.
Exit polls indicated that African Americans would have voted for Obama by more than 7 to 3 if he had campaigned in the state.
Hold on, though, Michigan. Clinton did very well in the debate in Las Vegas. I especially enjoyed her line about Bush's "pathetic" attempts to beg lower oil prices out of OPEC. Her strongest qualities are her sharp anti-ultra right programs and her detailed plans for tackling the looming economic crisis. She has also come a long way on the war.
For the third straight primary/caucus, the big story, however, has to do with turnout. Even though the Republicans came here and pretended they cared about jobs (offering no solutions like fair trade, union rights, ending Bush tax breaks to companies who move out of town and country a la DeVos' Amway, etc.), they couldn't get Michigan voters excited about Republican ideas or four more years of a Republican presidency.
In states where Democrats contested the elections and debated the issues and talked about bringing the troops home from the war, about change, about universal health care and creating jobs, about ending our dependence on oil, about workers' rights, people came out in icy weather in Iowa and balmy weather in New Hampshire.