By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 15, 2008 5:45PM
For Michigan Democrats, the choices in today's primary are pretty stark. Late last year, Michigan Senator Carl Levin supported moving Michigan's primary up to January 15 in an attempt to make the state more relevant in this year's race. That move backfired, however, when the Democratic National Committee punished the state party by stripping it of all its delegates at the convention. Party rules mandate that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina hold the first primaries.
All Democratic candidates have removed their names from the ballot, except for Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. State party leadership have said that they believe Michigan delegates will be allowed to vote at the convention, and the threat of giving Hillary Clinton a boost if she wins is serious enough that a movement to encourage Democrats to turn out and vote "uncommitted". If at least 15 percent of voters in a congressional district choose uncommitted, there will be a separate meeting to decide who those delegates should represent, potentially giving Edwards and Obama supporters a more meaningful role at the convention.
Likewise for Republicans, there are only 30 delegates available, cut in half from 60, although all candidates are on the ballot, and today's vote is considered a bit of a litmus test going into the Nevada caucuses Saturday. In fact, most of the attention has been on the Republican primary.
A Zogby poll released Monday shows John McCain with a slight edge over Mitt Romney, 27 percent to 24 percent, with Mike Huckabee polling only about 15 percent.
Here's where it gets interesting, though.
Because there is essentially no Democratic primary today, Democrats and independents are free to cross over and vote in the GOP primary. This could work in McCain's favor, as he polls well among non-Republicans.
The poll shows that among Republicans, Romney beats McCain, 30% to 20%, but McCain gets more support from Democrats and independent voters. Republicans made up about 51% of the sample, Democrats 22% and independents 27%. About 35% of Democrats liked McCain, to Romney's 17%. Among independents, about 33% like the maverick Arizona senator, compared to 18% for Romney and 11.6% for Huckabee. Huckabee and McCain are roughly tied among Republicans, each with about 20% support.
Seeing the potential to create some electoral mischief with Michigan's open primary and lack of incentive for Democrats to come and vote, progressive blogger and DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga has been urging his readers to turn out and vote for Mitt Romney tonight.
Mitt Romney, who’s suffered back-to-back losses in the last week, desperately needs to win Michigan in order to keep his campaign afloat. Bottom line, if Romney loses Michigan, he's out. If he wins, he stays in.
And we want Romney in, because the more Republican candidates we have fighting it out, trashing each other with negative ads and spending tons of money, the better it is for us. We want Mitt to stay in the race, and to do that, we need him to win in Michigan.
Markos's call for Democrats to support Romney - who's continued candidacy hinges on doing well in Michigan, has even bred a campaign ad-style video on YouTube.
Of course, what Democrats and independents will do in the voting booth is anyones guess. Whatever happens tonight, the Republican primary will be the big story, making or breaking Mitt Romney or carrying John McCain to Nevada on a groundswell of support.