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Michigan Primary: The Road to Hell is Paved...

by: Brainwrap

Sat Jan 12, 2008 at 14:16:58 PM EST

(! - promoted by Eric B.)

In light of the "Mitt for Michigan" fuss and other Michigan Democratic Primary-related discussion going on throughout the blogosphere, as a Michigan Democrat (MI-09, Joe Knollenberg's district), I just wanted to vent a bit.
Brainwrap :: Michigan Primary: The Road to Hell is Paved...

So, if I understand the situation correctly, the whole point of violating the agreed-to DNC schedule was:

  1. To move ahead of Iowa and/or New Hampshire.
  2. To therefore have much more influence on the nominee choice than we have in the past.
  3. To generate increased media and campaign attention as a result of #1 & 2.
  4. To also generate a desperately-needed influx of money into the state as a result of #3.
  5. To also increase Dem voter turnout as a result of excitement over #1, 2, 3 and 4.
Now, these are all Good Intentions. However, as a result of being arrogant enough to think they could roll over the DNC rules (which, if I understand correctly, even our own Michigan DNC delegation VOTED IN FAVOR OF)...

--Both Iowa and New Hampshire went first anyway by moving THEIR schedules up. Strike one.

--We now have exactly ZERO influence on the nomination (far less than we would've if we'd stuck with the Feb. caucus). Strike two.

--We now have far LESS media attention, and virtually no Dem. campaign attention. Strike three.

--We therefore have NO money coming in from the campaigns/news folks (the former agreed not to campaign here, the latter don't give a sh*t about a meaningless primary) (Strike four), meaning that...

--Democratic turnout in Michigan--after seeing record-breaking numbers in both IA and NH--will likely be at an all-time LOW. Strike five.

--As a result of all of this, morale and confidence in the MDP by their members (including myself) is likely also at an all-time low. Strike six.

--the MDP has also managed to SAVE the state Republican Party $5-$10 million since they don't have to pay for their own caucus anymore--the taxpayers do. Strike seven.

--they've also managed to embarrass the hell out of the DNC, who now has to figure out WTF they're going to do with those 2 big 'ol gaping holes on the convention floor this summer (Michigan and Florida). Oh yeah--both of which are swing states to boot. Strike eight.

--finally, they've opened up a potentially horrific can of worms in the event that the following scenario plays out:

If Michigan and Florida hadn't jumped the gun, there'd be a total of 4,049 delegates. The winning nominee has to receive at least 2,025 delegates to win the nomination. As I understand it, the winner has to secure this number *regardless* of whether some states' delegates aren't counted.

Subtract Michigan's 156 and Florida's 210, that leaves 3,683 available delegates.

Let's suppose Obama and Clinton slug it out and end up at the convention with, say, 1,700 delegates apiece and Edwards with, say, 283. Even if Edwards cuts a deal with one or the other (presumably Obama, I'd guess), they're still 42 delegates short.

Presumably, Florida and Michigan's "non-counting" delegates would be enough to put either Obama or Clinton (more likely Clinton, given the Michigan mess) over the top.


If they stick to their rules, we have no nominee. If they cave and seat the delegates, they've essentially violated their own rules and could face a massive backlash from whichever candidate "lost" (in this scenario, it would presumably be Obama). Possible legal action? Potential strike nine.

Meanwhile, the GOP would be laughing their asses off (unless they have their own 2-, 3-, or 4-way brokered convention as well...but that's their problem...)

In short, the MDP has just managed to screw this thing up, quite literally, "Eight ways from Sunday."


That is all.

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Wow! Front-Paged!
Didn't expect that...this is actually a modified version of a comment made in someone else's diary earlier...

I should also note that no, I'm NOT happy with IA/NH going first every time, and the system is obviously in need of an overhaul--but this wasn't the way to do it. If there had been some way of being certain that IA/NH wouldn't bump their contests up even earlier, it might have made some sense (although it'd still be wrong to violate rules that were agreed to), but the MDP knew damned well that Iowa and New Hampshire could simply move theirs back even earlier anyway.

The DNC did at least add Nevada and South Carolina into the "first 4" mix. This is hardly an ideal solution, but it at least begins the process of breaking IA/NH's stranglehold on the nation, by mixing things up geographically (adding states from the South and the West to the Midwest/Northeast) and demographically (large black population in SC, some Hispanic representation in NV, I believe). It's gonna take several cycles to fully level things out, but I thought this was a pretty good first step, and now we've botched things up something awful.

Oh, and yes, I do plan on voting Uncommitted on Tuesday. I understand the "mess with the GOP" concept, but it just strikes me too much as playing with fire--what happens if Romeny (or whoever you vote for) ends up actually winning the Presidency? It could happen no matter what you think--weirder things have happened.

If I could front page incisive, provocative comments...
[ Parent ]
Brainwrap, I agree with your analysis completely
The point of changing the primary date was to give us more influence.  Instead we relegated ourselves to irrelevancy.

Check out my mediocre blog.

[ Parent ]
I have posted many comments similar to this
(including the point you make in the first comment that some progress was made, and we were not willing to take half a loaf) - but you have written the definitve smack-down of this primary.

And, if the reaction to my previous comments is predictive, you will net any sensible refutation from the other side.

[ Parent ]
Uncommitted Seems Like A Waste of Time
Since they aren't going to seat our delegates at the National Convention, I don't see much point to voting in the Democratic primary at all.

They canceled the hotel rooms for our delegates this week, so despite the assurances from the MDP, I don't see any indication that the DNC will change that stance.  

[ Parent ]
Strike 9
And at polling places next Tuesday you can expect recall petitions aplenty because of the wonderful timing of the primary election and a captive audience of Democrat-hating Republicans all to eager to exact tax-increase revenge on Dem lawmakers.

Oh wow, I forgot about that...
Good point.

Plus, the disenfranchisement of those who weren't able to receive their absentee ballots in time due to it being decided so late (quite a few county clerks have complained about this).

Plus, the extra expense (upwards of $10 million, I've heard) to the state and to the local communities (I was told that Berkley will have to shell out $30,000 alone for this mess).

Plus, the frustration and confusion for the voters and poll workers when people are told that write-ins don't count (not to mention that Dodd dropped out of the race, although that's not really the MDP's fault).

Call it 12 Ways from Sunday, then (plus a possible 13 if my "doom" scenario plays out).

[ Parent ]
Tuesday Recall Petitions
I don't think you'll see many, if any, recall petitioners for a number of reasons.  First of all, recall language must be approved before any signatures can be collected.  To the best of my knowledge, recall language has only been approved against Donigan, Dean, and Sheltrown.  Out of those three, only Dean faces a real threat of being recalled.  The House Democratic Caucus sent volunteers to Dean's district for the last election and there wasn't a recall petitioner in sight.  A primary election with the weather at 20 degrees (petitioners are required to stand outside) is hardly an ideal place or time to collect signatures.  Remember, all the signatures need to be collected within a 90 day window.  So if petitoners started collecting signatures on Tuesday, they would need to collect all the other signatures during the coldest weeks of the year when stores, malls, outdoor public events are the least busy.  It's smart thing for Dems to be prepared, but don't expect much activity with recalls on Tuesday.

[ Parent ]
Actually, from what I've been told...
The time to battle a potential recall election--*regardless* of the situation or candidate--is during the signature-gathering phase, not the actual election, because once it makes it to the ballot, the only people who to show up and vote on a recall election tend to be those who want the person recalled.

From what I've heard, the petition people are planning on pouncing all over this absurd charade of a primary.

[ Parent ]
and certainly the right-to-work-for-less folks are. eom

[ Parent ]
Ballot Issues
I think you'll see a number of different petitioners out there on different ballot issues.  But I doubt they'll be very many recall petitioners out at the polls.

[ Parent ]
All over where?
I don't disagree that the time to fight a recall is during the signature gathering phase.  But, in what districts do you expect them to pounce?

[ Parent ]
and the Right To Work petitions
to try and get this on the ballot will also be passed.

If Republicans show up in large numbers (which they may) and not as many Democrats show up, we face a higher percentage of people who might sign in favor of RTW.

[ Parent ]
Why can't we get an answer on this?
  Good writing. I can hardly believe the train wreck we're heading for.  I'll keep an eye on your future articles in hopes of a follow up.  I can't get an answer from anyone on this issue.  

Keep up the good work.  

I'm putting a link to your blog on my blogs:




Tommy K.

Thanks, although...
...D4MD isn't really "my" blog; I'm just the webmaster for the Detroit-area DFA chapter. The blog "belongs" to the group, not me (in fact, I don't do most of the posts on it).

[ Parent ]
How many more times.......
do we have to wade through this story between now and Tuesday?

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

As many times as it takes for the other side to admit how much
irreparable damage has been done to our party by what they have been cheerleading.

[ Parent ]
Don't hold your breath
while your waiting. Might as well quit wasting your time.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Parent ]
And who says it stops Tuesday?
As the damage plays itself out, I intend to grind their faces in the mess they made all the way along.

[ Parent ]
And that is going to accomplish what?
And why you're at it, what about some grinding on Gov. Dean's face.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Parent ]
Grind their Faces
If our delegates aren't seated, who do you think Michigan Democrats are really going to blame in August?  Levin, Granholm, Dingell, the Legislature and the MDP collectively for a decision that was made ten months earlier?  Or the DNC which will be the one's making the decision -the very body that continues to defend the indefensible preferred state system?

If our delegates are seated, Levin, Granholm, Dingell and Brewer, along with Florida, come out the heros for forcing a reluctant DNC to adopt real reform of the primary system.

[ Parent ]
Take at look at who is actually damaging the party.  It's the supporters of candidates who took their names off the ballot.  You won't find Clinton, Kucinich or Dodd supporters trashing the MDP or taking the MDP to court.  The negetivity dividing our party is coming almost exclusively from the anti-Clinton crowd.  And the primary certainly isn't surpressing Democratic turnout or interest in the party.  The number of people turning out to vote in the Democratic primary is expected to set record levels in modern Michigan political history.

[ Parent ]
The only candidate I sent money to was Senator Dodd.

My wife and I were planing on voting for him in the primary.

And I still think the whole thing is a clusterf*ck...

It would be just as disingenuous to suggest that the only people supporting this move are pro-Hillary people attempting to steal the election.

The same damn arguments were made over the caucus versus primary debate

Is that true?

The one thing that is true is that all the Hillbots, Obamaramans and Edwardians are only pissing people off...

Been there, done that...it was called the 2004 primary.

[ Parent ]
Regarding the Republican Contest
The Republicans have not held caucuses in Michigan.  They have always held primaries. It was the Democratic Party that had decided to start holding caucuses because of fears of cross-party tampering:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - -- (11/25/07)-- The process of choosing a presidential favorite has led Michigan down many different paths since it held its first presidential primary in 1916.

In 1972, Alabama Governor George Wallace won the Democratic primary, easily beating George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey.

That prompted Democratic complaints that Republican voters had crossed over to vote for Wallace to embarrass them.

Democrats later switched to a caucus system that required participants to declare their party preference.

Quoted from abc12.com

Its easy to Monday Morning Quarterback these kind of things, but how much longer are we supposed to accept undue influence from States that have less than half our electoral votes and are much less representative of Democratic voters as a whole? We've backed down in the past and where did that get us?

It's only Monday morning quarterbacking
if you do it on Monday...

Many people were predicting this very outcome on the Wednesday before the big game..and they were accused of all sorts.

Whether you candidate is on the ballot or off, you are still being disenfranchised...

Does it really matter whose to blame?*

*Hint: They all are!

[ Parent ]
I think many Democrats will show up
to the polls completely unaware that only Clinton and Kucinich are on the ballot. And, I'll bet we'll see a large number of spoiled ballots, as there is a space for "write-in", but ballots with a write-in will not be counted.

Who came up with the brilliant idea of putting a write-in space, yet saying all ballots with a write-in will be considered spoiled?

The Write in space
The ballots are printed before the deadline for write-in candidates.

Unfortunate, but otherwise the ballots would never get printed on time.

[ Parent ]
they were printed after several candidates such as Edwards, Obama, Richardson, Biden and Dodd pulled out, but before it had been determined that write-ins would not be counted?


[ Parent ]
Write-in spaces are a feature of Michigan election law.
The fact none are allowed doesn't mean they don't print the space.  In theory, somebody else - YOU, for example - could have filed last week as a write-in candidate, so votes for you could be counted.

For all I know, somebody HAS filed the needed paperwork - just nobody we've ever heard of.  

Anyway, the ballots have to be printed before the write-in deadline passes, so they have to include the line.  The good news is they removed the words: "Write-in Candidate" next to the line, which practically begged people to fill something in.  Now, it's just an unexplained line, below the candidate names, with an uncompleted arrow ready to be completed.

[ Parent ]
Excellent explanation - thanks
I was looking at the sample ballot online, which was showing a labeled write-in space. I wondered how many people would write in for Obama and Edwards.


[ Parent ]
Nope. The Dems who show up will be aware of the problems.
I'm pretty confident that the typical person who shows up Tuesday will be generally aware the ballot is incomplete, the delegates have been withdrawn, that they will be forced to declare a party, that their declaration will be the private property of the Democratic Party, and that voting is more-or-less pointless.  They won't be able to recite all those facts, but if you mention them, they'll nod their heads in agreement.

They'll be irritated, but not fighting mad.  Some will cross over into the Republican primary - maybe 100,000 to 200,000 of them.  Many will vote for Hillary, some for a random third-tier Dem, and many will vote uncommitted.  Many will grumble, but few will scream, and nearly none will throw a punch or be arrested.

Finally - and for me the hardest to explain - they're going to show up anyway.  Not small numbers.  Not a poor turnout.  Lots of them.  High six figures.  If they had something to vote on, there might be 1.5 million and they'd swamp the Republican turnout.  But even with this screwed-up mess, they'll turn out, they'll wonder what to do, and they'll try to do it.

Rarely have so many, tried so hard, with so little effect, to undo so much incompetence, by so few.

[ Parent ]
I know a lot of people are unaware
of candidates not being on the ballot, and of those who are aware, many didn't realize they couldn't write-in Obama or Edwards. Political junkies know what has happened, but a lot of people who will participate next Wednesday may still be unaware of the situation. I keep hoping there will be more information about the process on the local news and in the newspapers - I hope the News & Freep and other papers will explain everything to the voters.

[ Parent ]
er, Tuesday, not Wednesday
I hope people are aware of what's going on by Wednesday! LOL

[ Parent ]
the costs of filling out an absentee ballot are much lower than turning up at the polls.

Especially for an election that doesn't matter.

In fact, I would argue that while absentee ballot costs have remained the same, the costs of turning out have increased significantly in relation.

Traditional models don't apply.

[ Parent ]
Interesting how the nat'l media is reporting the R vs D race
They're paying a bit of attention to the Republican race here. They're completely ignoring Michigan's Democratic party race. They're only focusing on SC and NV for the Democrats, making it clear that the MI Democratic party results are pointless.

The only way I think they'll pay attention to it is if Uncommitted beats Clinton (which I highly doubt will happen).

There were so many warning flags along the way, making it clear that moving up and keeping the Jan 15 date was a bad idea. I'm astonished that the state party didn't back down, say "we've made our point for the need for election reform", and back off. How much time and money has the MDP wasted on this? And, how much will it hurt us in the general election - both for the WH race and other down-ticket races - that we have NO organization on the ground? The Mittsters and McCain and even Paul supporters have organizations on the ground. We have virtually nothing in place.  

Media reports
The reporting I've seen has been mostly critical of the DNC for forcing the candidates to not campaign here. Both local and national media. On his show last night, Lou Dobbs was extremely critical of the DNC and the candidates who pulled out of Michigan.
And they are paying a lot of attention to the Republican race. I don't know what media you are reading and watching but I'm seeing  a lot of coverage. With McCain, Romney, and Huckabee, the three front runners all in Michigan, they have to cover it.  

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Parent ]
Media Attention
I just used Google News to get an article count to see how much attention is being paid to the Michigan Primary compared to the Nevada Caucus which is next up.

Michigan Democratic Primary generated 6,510 media hits.
Nevada Democratic Caucus generated 4,457 media hits.

and on the other ballot....

Michigan Republican Primary generated 11,782 media hits.
Nevada Republican Caucus generated 4,195 media hits.

Heck, even our own Eric Baerren generated two hits about our primary.

So much for being ignored.

[ Parent ]
did you notice
twice as many hits for the MI Repubican primary as for the MI Democratic primary?

Those are google hits, not cable news. I think the lack of discussion of the Democratic primary on cable news is rather stunning.

I spent several hours over the past couple days watching news/pundit type shows yesterday on MSNBC and CNN. Every single one that mentioned the Michigan primary only mentioned the Repubican race here. They didn't even mention the Michigan Democratic primary. They all talked about how Michigan is going to play a role for the Republicans.

I'm curious how they'll deal with it Tuesday night. MSNBC is covering the Nevada debate that night, and will be providing coverage of the MI primary as well. I'm curious how they'll talk about our race.

[ Parent ]
Cable News
For your own health and peace of mind, turn off cable news.  Your mind would be healthier on meth than watching the mental garbage on MSNBC and CNN "The War as Entertainment Channel".

I'd expect the MI Republican Primary to get twice as much attention as the MI Democratic Primary.  They have twice as many candidates on the ballot as we do because Obama and Edwards pulled their names off our ballot.

[ Parent ]
Just on the local news TV 9/10
out of Cadillac. A report on the Republican primary with  local interview of the Mittster and coverage of McCain and Huckelberry. Then an explanation that that Democratic candidates Obama and Edwards  pulled out of the Michigan primary bowing to pressure from Iowa and New Hampshire. Then it said only Clinton will be on the Democratic ballot. No mention of Kucinich.

I know that Edwards and Obama supporters are angry and in denial but there is a great deal of coverage going on and anyone who cares enough to listen and educate themselves  can do it. There have been articles on the write in situation( the Freep even had one telling absentee voters they could revote if they had spoiled their ballot by doing a write in).

Of course more coverage is being given to the Repubs because they are here. But there is always a mention of the Democratic situation.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

[ Parent ]
Primary Going Very Well
I feel the primary situation is going exceptionally well.

We're a whole week after New Hampshire and four days before Nevada, giving both the Democratic and Republican primaries in Michigan far more attention for far longer that if we had been buried under other states on Super Tuesday.  Eric, for example, has done multiple stories for the national and international press just this weekend.  If you think Michigan is being ignored, you're not paying attention.  Almost all of the Republican candidates are in Michigan at this very moment.  Kucinich is here as well.  Clinton has turned the focus of the Democratic primary to economic revival -a direct nod to Michigan's Democratic voters.  Almost all of the Republican campaigns and even the Uncommitted campaign are spending a decent amount of money here in advertising.  A number of them won't be around anymore if we were holding a caucus on February 9.  Turnout is excepted to be at an all time high for a Presidential Primary or Caucus over the past 30 years.  And it's not all Republicans.  As Greber has mentioned, requests for Democratic absentee ballots has been surprising high.  And none of the fears of the military and other Michiganians overseas not being able to vote have materialized.  Absentee ballots went out in plenty of time.  All one needs to do is look at the huge spike in diaries and comments on MichiganLiberal over the past 72 hours (many from people out of state).  Deprived of any other primaries until January 19, the nation's eyes are now on Michigan.

Even more importantly, Michigan achieved what it intended.  We've forced the DNC between a rock and hard place.  They either accept our delegates and thus guarantee the death of an unenforceable preferred state system or they refuse to accept Florida's delegates and Michigan's delegates and thus risk upsetting Democratic and independent voters in the #1 most populated and #4 most populated swing states 12 weeks before the General Election.  It will be the DNC getting the blame from Michigan Democrats in August, not the MDP.  The MDP won't be making that decision in 8 months.  Guess what option the DNC will choose?  Carl Levin has come out on top yet again with the assistance of Governor Granholm, 2/3rds of the Democrats in the State House, all our Democratic Senators, Mark Brewer, the Dingells and an near unanimous MDP Executive Committee.

The beauty of all this is that Hillary Clinton did not take her name off the ballot and escaped censure from the DNC and the other early states.  Unless Kucinich can reach 15%, Hillary will be winning the only pledged delegates on Tuesday.  By withdrawing, certain candidates have set themselves up for automatic defeat.  If I was one of their supporters, I'd be angry too.  But I'd be asking myself which candidates are actually truly serious about change.  

If you're a Democrat, please vote Clinton, Kucinich or Gravel.  If you're an Independent, vote in whichever primary where you think your vote will be the most effective.  Your tax dollars are helping put on both primaries so you have every right to vote however you chose (except for those candidates who took away your ability to vote for them, of course).

Real change begins in Michigan on Tuesday.  

2 votes in
Well, the parents in Waterford were happy to tell me they went to their Clerk's office and voted - 1 for Uncommitted (thank you mom) and 1 for that lady who I don't trust will be able to let go of the desire to exact some revenge on the Republicans if she actually goes all the way in retaliation for all the divisive, hateful crap they've thrown at her family since 1992.

I voted for obama on my California ballot and stuck it in the mail the other day.

Onward ho!

Here's strike 10
We don't get to see our fantastic slate of candidates up close and in person campaigning on the stump. I think I resent being robbed of that experience, maybe my ONLY chance to see them, as much as the all the other excellent points you made combined. It doesn't matter who I want to vote for, I still was looking forward to seeing them and enjoying getting pumped up. I'm proud of them all.

Big whoopee, Huckabee was right here in St. Johns, 4 blocks from where I live last night according to the paper. Great. Just great. The Republicans here are floating on air today.

I'm not a happy camper about any of this. I feel for all of us.  

Imagine what the Michigan Primary would be like on Tuesday if Obama and Edwards hadn't withdrawn from the ballot.  I expect most of the anti-primary posts we've seen on this blog would never have been written.  But we don't need to imagine it.  Our sister in the south, Florida, also has been denied the seating of all its delegates by the DNC.  Unlike in Michigan though, candidates were not allowed to withdraw from the primary.  As a result, the supporters of all candidates are in the same boat.  And how are Florida Democrats feeling about their primary?  Read for yourself at http://www.dailykos.com/storyo...

And yet...
Obama and the other Democrats appear poised to complete in Florida...

Yeah us!

[ Parent ]

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For MI Bloggers:
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