THE BLOG
03/28/2008 02:48 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Low Turnout, Few Options Mark Michigan Primary

Mitt Romney wins the Michigan Republican primary. Decisively. But does it even matter?

Before what might be a Ford Edsel turns into a spaceship, a review of the facts:

1) Yes, Romney won a much-needed victory last night by besting rival John McCain 39% to 30%, as reported by CNN.
2) Yes, Romney did spend more than $2 million on TV advertising in his home state of Michigan - more than any other candidate.
3) Yes, Romney did say in his victory speech that yesterday's primary represented a "comeback," and that "you [Michigan voters] got out and told America what they needed to hear."

Romney's victory can hardly - if at all - be called a dramatic watershed moment in an otherwise failing campaign. According to unofficial reports provided by the Michigan Secretary of State, 1,194,842 Michigan voters participated in Tuesday's primary, representing a roughly 20% turnout among eligible voters. Does last night's Romney victory really mark a comeback?

Not really, unless you define a decisive victory as a mere .39% of the total U.S. population voting for someone who is: a) A former Michigan governor's son; b) Not Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson; and c) an electoral overachiever to the tune of several million dollars in campaign advertising.

Mitt Romney's victory is important, of course. Although it would have been embarrassing to lose his home state, losing Michigan would have dealt a serious blow to the Romney campaign's national viability. He has always had the financial ability to continue and the desire to keep going. Romney's victory in the Michigan primary is most significant, in that he can continue with renewed confidence, perhaps not driving an Edsel - but not quite a Cadillac, either.

Thanks to the inestimable wisdom of the Democratic Party of Michigan and the spirit of intra-party cooperation so lovingly kindled by the DNC, yesterday's Michigan Democratic Primary was - true to prediction - a mostly meaningless exercise in our collective ability to shade an oval.
Mostly.

...

For Democrats, the Michigan primary was significant for a few reasons, not the least of which is that it represents the first and perhaps only time that Dennis Kucinich will finish in the top three in a major 2008 presidential contest (at least on this planet anyway). Yet yesterday's less-than-democratic Democratic primary was especially important for Hillary Clinton. The news was both good and bad.

On the outside, the results were good - not great, but not bad. Taking 55% of the vote, Clinton avoided a possible nightmare scenario in which she would be defeated by "Uncommitted," the embarrassment of which would perhaps only be equaled by John Ashcroft's now-legendary loss to a dead man in 2000. Clinton, whose campaign claims it "forgot" to take its candidate's name off the ballot following the DNC's condemnation of the newly re-scheduled Michigan primary, was the only front-runner appearing on the Democratic ballot.

Yet while most politicians would leap at the chance to win with 55% in a contest, exit polling is beginning to paint a more bittersweet portrait of Clinton's victory. According to CNN, roughly 70% of Michigan's African-American voters cast their ballots for "Uncommitted," and an overwhelming majority indicated they would have supported Barack Obama were he included on the ballot. The statistics seem to indicate that recent racial tensions between the two campaigns are beginning to take their toll on Clinton, whose statements regarding Martin Luther King, Jr. have taken fire from several prominent African-American leaders. Heading into the southern states, Clinton faces a new challenge in regaining the confidence of the key demographic that snubbed her in Michigan.