|Some FAQ on the Michigan Primary
Hey, what about that wicked cool idea by Markos to vote for Romney?
The Democrats for Mitt scheme has two goals as I see it. If they can help Romney win Michigan, Democrats can extend the chaos in the Republican primary and the political fortunes of the candidate most likely to go negative on other Republicans and if Romney does end up winning it appears now that he would be the least electable of Republicans.
There are numerous problems with Kos' idea.
1. Michiganders really don't need a bunch of outsiders who don't fully understand our politics coming in and telling us how to vote. The Democrats for Mitt group does not include a single Michiganders in its administration. Instead it's made up of folks from California (Markos Moulitsas), Iowa (Adam Fries), and Pennsylvania (Jesse Hoff).
2. It's not a good idea to cause mischief in the Republican Primary since it really would influence only a few points and has little chance of influencing the race and because their is something at stake in the Democratic Primary -- the media headlines afterward.
3. Kos is wrong about the Democratic primary.
The Democratic race is irrelevant. I hate to say it to Michigan Democrats, but your governor miscalculated and now the Democratic race means zero. The anti-Hillary Clinton camp thinks if they can keep her under 50 percent by voting "undeclared" that they'll notch some sort of victory. No one will care. You can't even say, "more than half of Democrats don't want her!" since less than half of Democrats wanted her in Iowa or New Hampshire. The reality is that less than half of Democrats want any of our candidates right now in the three-way race. I wish it wasn't the case. And if the primary had been placed on Feb. 5, it would've mattered. But it wasn't. So now the only story that will emerge from Michigan will be the Republican results, and that's the only place Democrats can materially affect the race.
To summarize, this is about letting Democrats actually materially impact this race.
By the way, you can note here that Kos doesn't know a whole lot about Michigan politics. Granholm didn't "miscalculate," all along this was about creating a firewall for Hillary. And it's not "undeclared" it's Uncommitted. Plus, there was never a plan to have a primary on 5 February, it was always to have our traditional caucus on 9 February. But back to the meat of my critique.
Contrary to his opinion from 3000 miles away, the Michigan Democratic Party primary is meaningful, not extremely meaningful, but important enough to stay on the Democratic ballot.
Now, it's not meaningful as far as delegates go. Michigan has been stripped of all its delegates, and while some of those might be returned as pseudo-delegates at the National Convention, it's not at all clear now what will become of our delegation.
No, it's important because of the media story that will come out of Michigan (now it won't be front-page news, but it will be inside papers and it will get mentioned on the 24-hour news networks since they have to talk about something and they love to talk about the horserace.
So, either the media headlines will read "Hillary Wins Michigan, She Now das the Momentum in the Race" or "Uncommitted Defeats Hillary: Michigan Picks Nobody Over Clinton, Boost to Edwards and Obama."
That's the power we Michigan Democrats have on Tuesday, to pick the media headline and influence who has the all-important momentum in the race for the Democratic Nomination.
As Michigan pundit Tim Stubick writes:
Each vote in that [Uncommitted] column is one less for Clinton. Under the worse possible scenario, she could lose to non-committed and the national pundits would have a field day.
Barack Obama and John Edwards can't win the Michigan presidential primary, but they can beat or embarrass Hillary Clinton.
Now some folks I respect a great deal believe that voting on the Republican side penalizes the MDP for the primary farce, and there is some logic to that. But since it helps Hillary win some momentum and potential delegates, voting on the Republican side if you would have voted for Edwards or Obama means that you're rewarding the Forces of Coronation that gave us this joke of a primary.
Note I've got no problem with the morality of switching ballots, it's just that Kos' assumptions are wrong, so it doesn't make sense in this case.
4. Again, this effort is extremely likely to fail. Those Michigan Democrats that switch over are just as likely to vote for the Republican they like the most -- probably maverick John McCain or economic populist Mike Huckabee -- as they are to vote for a choice that will cause mischief -- Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. Indeed, pro-Huckabee PACs are actively courting Democratic voters to vote for the former governor from Hope. Meanwhile, the
troll Libertarians want us to switch vote for Ron Paul (they've also infiltrated and spammed Democratic meetup groups in Grand Rapids. In other words, Democratic switchover votes will go to at least four Republicans and their overall impact on the Republican race will be diluted and therefore minimal. Heck, there's even news that Republicans are switching over to the Democratic ballot. Who woulda guessed?
5. Finally, according to the law that put the "primary" at 15 January, the Republican and Democratic Parties will gain sole access to the voter lists. Thus, if you vote in the Republican primary (and probably achieve nothing but a 1-2% change in the outcome), you'll be paying for it for years and years with Republican robocalls, mailings and knocks on your door. So, if you want Dick DeVos and Mike Cox to call you and visit your house, then go ahead and switch over to the Republican ballot.
As an addendum, I'm not sure Romney will really be all that easy to beat in a General Election. Romney can play the business-man card effectively, has no associations with BushCo, and was the governor of Massachusetts (like a Democratic Southerner, swing voters will assume that a Republican from New England is a moderate by the very fact that he got elected there).
OK, so I'll stay on the Democratic ballot. Now, can't I just write in John Edwards or Barack Obama in the Write-In Space on the ballot?
Write-ins will NOT be counted. They will be considered spoiled and thrown in the garbage since no candidates filled out the forms to be an official write-in choice.
So, if I can't vote for my candidate, shouldn't I just stay home?
If you stay at home, you are simply making it more likely that the forces that brought you the farce of a primary will win and will give Hillary media momentum and all the potential delegates. If you're angry that Granholm-Dingell-Hillary forced the MDP into a no candidate, no campaigns, no delegates "primary," then show that disapproval through actively voting against them -- voting Uncommitted -- rather than engaging in a boycott they'll write off as laziness.
In short: Every Democrat who would have voted for Edwards or Obama but is now voting for Romney is essentially voting for Hillary Clinton (she he still supports NAFTA).
How about voting for Kucinich?
It is extremely unlikely that Kucinich can get over 15% of the vote in any congressional district, so he can't earn delegates and simply takes away from the main message: everyone not for Hillary should vote Uncommitted.
OK, so can I do?
Voting Uncommitted means, according to The Michigan Democratic Party's Voters Guide for the 15 January "primary" that
A vote for "uncommitted" is a vote to send delegates to the Democratic National Convention who are not committed or pledged to any candidate. Those delegates can vote for any candidate they choose at the Convention.
Supporters of Joe Biden [dropped out], John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson [dropped out] are urged to vote "uncommitted" instead of writing in their candidates' names because write-in votes for those candidates will not be counted.
The Edwards and Obama grassroots, along with all Edwards and Obama elected endorsers such as congressman Bart Stupack and State Representative Fred Miller (Edwards) and congressman John Conyers (Obama), and the Michigan Democratic Party urge supporters of John Edwards and/or Barack Obama to Vote Uncommitted.
Can Uncommitted Really Earn Delegates and Compete with Hillary Clinton?
Two recent polls show Uncommitted can do well enough to earn delegates and can keep Hillary Clinton under 50%.
A EPIC/MRA poll from Saturday (600 "people," 300 on Democratic side, 9-12 January 2008)
Hillary Clinton: 56%
Dennis Kucinich: 3%
Write-In: 3% (these votes will be spoiled)
Chris Dodd: 0%
Mike Gravel: 0%
Undecided/don't know/refused: 5%
An earlier Rossman/MIRS/Denno-Noor poll (taken after Iowa, but before New Hampshire and the media coverage of Uncommitted; of 300 likely voters in the Democratic "primary," 5.8% MOE; 6-7 January 2008)
Hillary Clinton: 47%
All Others: less than 5% each
Michigan election expert Grebner has the Michigan "primary" math showing that even a decent 25-30% vote for Uncommitted could leave it with close to half the "delegates" to the national convention.
Will The Delegates We're Electing Really Be Seated in Denver in August At the Democratic National Convention?
Who knows? On 1 December the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee went out of their way to penalize Michigan more than the rules called for. Instead of stripping halfof our delegates for the MDP's breaking of the calendar rules, they stripped allof Michigan's delegates. The MDP is promising us that our delegates will be seated, however they've made a lot of promises on this primary -- that the DNC would allow our power-move up and that candidates would come to Michigan -- that haven't come true so they've lost my trust in their predictive powers on the primary. The DNC wants to be able to set the calendar rules, so they will push to severely punish Michigan's delegates. However, the presumptive nominee will probably push for a compromise, but mostly on the DNC's side. My guess is that only half of our delegates will be seated, that they won't be allowed to join any committees, including the Platform Committee, that DNC members like MDP Chair Mark Brewer and Debbie Dingell will not be seated, and that if half of the delegation is seated it will only be seated with floor voting rights just before they go on TV to vote for the nominee. If we have a contested convention because Obama has 40%, Hillary has 40% and Edwards has 20%, then our delegates will not be seated at all because there will be a battle for delegates and Michigan will miss out in the most important convention in over 60 years.
FYI: The DNC canceled the hotel rooms for Michigan's delegation earlier this week. At the Kent County Democratic Party meeting last week I overheard someone say, "You can be a delegate, but you won't get a bed or a chair." Ah, the reality of jail-house humor.
But, again, this is more about the media story than it is about the delegates.
What was this moving up from a February caucus to a 15 January primary all about?
First, it's important to remember that although Carl Levin has been hunting his white whale of moving Michigan in front of New Hampshire since the Constitutional Congress, the 15 January plan began as a bill pushed by Republican State Senate Leader Mike Bishop. It was the pro-Hillary faction within the Michigan Democratic Party that saw this Republican initiative taken on behalf of somewhat-native-son Mitt Romney to help Hillary Clinton whose campaign feared a loss in Iowa and needed a firewall. So, Hillary endorsers Governor Jennifer Granholm and MDP powerbroker Debbie Dingell put enormous pressure on the Democrats in the State House and Senate to go along with the Republican bill which passed and was signed by Granholm (I have this based on five separate sources).
Publicly, the purpose of the powerplay to break the agreed upon calendar was to give Michigan more of a voice in the selection of the nominee, force the nominees to address Michigan issues such as the Great Lakes, manufacturing, international trade, and industrial unions, and increase Democratic voter turnout and excitement among Democratic activists and voters.
Privately, Granholm is looking to be Attorney General or maybe Secretary of Energy. Jennifer needs a job since they're aren't any openings in Michigan for 4-6 years.
Why the 15 January "Primary" Was A Horrible Idea
1. It's led to great apathy among Michigan Democratic voters and anger at the MDP among Michigan progressive activists.
2. The goal of increasing Michigan's say in the nomination process has completely failed. While are argue that we'll have a little impact, it'll be extremely minimal, especially now that it seems that two or three candidates will survive Super Duper Tuesday and go onward. Our 9 February caucus could have been a king or queen maker with candidates, campaigns and delegates.
3. The goal of getting candidates to pay attention to our issues has failed as well since they're not here. And this was after Edwards, Clinton and Obama had been to Michigan before the debacle and we're beginning to discuss our situation in Michigan.
4. Late last year Democrats and Republicans passed a budget plan that increased the state income tax (but still not back to pre-Engler taxcut levels) and expanded the sales tax to certain services (since repealed). Another out-of-state groups such as Americans for Tax Reform are trying to take advantage of this to recall vulnerable Democratic representatives who voted for the tax increase including Grand Rapids' Robert Dean and Royal Oak's Marie Donigan (thus putting the Democrats majority in the State House in jeopardy). Now, with a state-funded Republican primary (instead of a much smaller caucus), Recall petitioners should be able to collect the 11,000 signatures in each district necessary to recall the Democrats since they'll have around a million Democrat-hating and tax-loathing Republicans to ask for their signature. Governor Granholm has put her desire to get a job in some potential Hillary Administration above both the interests of Michigan Democratic voters, but also the state of Michigan and the Democratic State House Caucus. Shame.
5. Another group of out-of-state petitioners will be collecting signature tomorrow -- to make Michigan a Right to Work (for Less) State and turn us into Michissippi. They'll also have a million Republicans has potential signers. Great job Jen, you're ruining the state.
6. Michigan's future delegate count is determined by how many people vote on the Democratic side of this primary. So if turnout is really low on the Democratic ballot, that means we'll lose a significant amount of delegates for 2012. That's another reason to vote on the Democratic side.
7. And on top of it all this state-funded primary for political parties is costing our cash-strapped state around $15 million dollars.
So, if the 15 January primary was such a bad idea, what did you do to stop it?
Michigan grassroots and netroots activists organized emails and phonecalls to the MDP to urge them to back out of the 15 January primary and return to a DNC-sanctioned caucus. We had resolutions to that effect passed in most of the most populous counties at County Democratic Party meetings, including Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw (Ann Arbor) and Kent (Grand Rapids). We even put forward a formal Implementation Challenge to the MDP (which we did not release to the press since we tried to do this all internally) which our Party never responded to. Finally, after receiving no feedback from MDP leaders one of our activists and her attorney was forced to sue the MDP and the Secretary of State in federal court. Heck, the MDP and State of Michigan have now been sued three times (it was one vote away from being ruled unconstitutional in the state "supreme" court), now that the ACLU has filed suit against the primary.
More info on this in a nice diary by brainwrap at MichLib.
What Else You Can Do (Other Than Telling Your Friends and Actually Going to the Polls for Uncommitted)
Join the Vote Uncommitted Facebook Group or contact Georg at voteuncommittedmi
Michigan Bloggers for Uncommitted:
Stone Soup Musings
There's more (indeed I can't think of any subscribing to this idea, the alternative in the Michigan blogosphere seems to be for Ron Paul), but this is getting long and I have to get ready for class and canvass my neighborhood for the traffic calming meeting tonight (yes, I do national, state, county, city (2), and neighborhood politics).
We've still got to worry about our own Party's nominee before we worry about their nominee. And Michigan will either be a win for Hillary or it won't. It's really that simple.
This is just as much for Obama folks as it is for Edwards. The progressive, pro-change candidates need to ally here in Michigan. Sorry, I haven't seen any Obama yardsigns in town.