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January 16, 2008

Hillary's Flat Tire In Michigan

So Hillary got a chance to have a primary race where her only competition was a fringe candidate (Dennis Kucinich), one who already quit (Chris Dodd), a joke (Mike Gravel), and None of the Above (Uncommitted). How well did she fare in a state that usually likes Establishment candidates? She only beat None of the Above by fifteen points.

The Michigan Democratic Party got its delegates stripped by the DNC for violating its scheduling rules. The RNC penalized state Republicans too, but only by stripping half of the delegates, so the GOP primary had real meaning. Instead, the Democratic candidates had removed their names from the ballot, but somehow Hillary neglected to do the same. That left her with the possibility of having a landslide result in what was more or less a beauty contest.

The state party decided to back Uncommitted, helped in large part by the Obama and Edwards campaigns. They wanted a large bloc of delegates to storm the gates in Denver this summer and demand to get seated so that they could have impact on the rules debates that will take place at the convention. Obama and Edwards saw it as a way to tarnish Hillary, as a significant turnout for None of the Above would embarrass her.

It looks like they got their wish. Exit polling shows that Uncommitted won a plurality of the youth vote. Hillary only won 60% of the women, with 36% voting for Uncommitted, along with 43% of the men. Uncommitted won a majority of the postgraduate vote, and Hillary only barely won a majority of the rest of the college vote. Higher income brackets went for Uncommitted by 50%-44%.

Most disturbing for Hillary is the softness of support for her among black voters. Sixty-eight percent of them voted for Uncommitted and only 30% for Hillary. Among urban voters, Uncommitted won a majority of 54%, while Hillary only garnered 40%.

It's a minor debacle. Running practically unopposed, Hillary should have rolled to an easy and large victory. Beating None of the Above by only fifteen points doesn't create a picture of a juggernaut.

UPDATE: CNN's Political Ticker notes the problem:

Even so, roughly 70 percent of Michigan’s African-American voters — a group that makes up a quarter of Michigan’s Democratic electorate — did not cast their votes for Clinton, choosing the “uncommitted” option instead. Yet these voters weren’t uncommitted at all: in fact, according to CNN exit polls, they overwhelmingly favored Barack Obama, whose name did not appear on the ballot.

Had Obama’s name been on the Michigan ballot, CNN exit polls show that he would have won an overwhelming 73 percent of the African-American vote, in contrast to 22 percent who say they would have voted for Clinton under those circumstances. If South Carolina’s large African-American community votes as Michigan’s, Hillary may not be feeling much ‘southern hospitality’ in that state.

The fissures are increasing in the Democratic coalition .... (via Memeorandum)


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