presidential primary

Politics
7:19 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Michigan primary politics: "Why can't I quit you?"

thetoad flickr

On Fridays Rick Pluta and I have been taking a look at politics in the state. But, before we could really get into our main topic of the week – state ballot proposals - we had a confession to make: We’re having a hard time getting over the Michigan primary. It might even be fair to say that we’re slightly obsessed. “Oh, primary, why can’t I quit you?” Pluta asked. It’s just too tough to quit.

Remnants of a primary

Yes, we know. The primary was almost two weeks ago. But a mere ten days can’t keep us from a good news story. “We saw earlier this week a Santorum campaign organizer in the state, John Yob – the Yob name is a venerable one in Michigan Republican politics – trying to organize a rally at the state party headquarters to, figuratively, at least, pound on the doors and demand justice for an even division of the primary delegates,” Pluta explains. You can find last week’s conversation over so-called “dele-gate” here.

The rally fizzles

Pluta went to report on the rally for Michigan Radio but, “very few people showed up… very, very few people.” Nevertheless, Pluta notes, “that it does raise the prospect of a convention fight - a floor fight - that would really be kind of an intra-party referendum on the leadership of the state GOP and a fight over who sits at the table when big decisions are made.” (Just in case you can’t get enough intra-party squabbles – and, if that’s the case you get major ‘political junkie’ points – you can find another darn good intra-party fight story here).

Now onto the feature presentation: Ballot proposals

Ok, we got the Michigan presidential primary out of our systems – at least for this week – and got to talking about the topic we had initially planned: a look at the various ballot proposals that were unveiled this week at the Capital. We saw a petition drive launched to create accountability in election spending. “Basically to require corporations to disclose when they spend money on their own political communication, primarily television advertising,” Pluta explains.

Also unveiled was a labor-rights ballot proposal. This got us to thinking about the politics behind ballot proposals. Sure, the folks behind these proposals are passionate about their causes and want their laws passed but there’s also the fact that ballot proposals can get out the vote in November.

The infamous Rovian-strategy

That would be Karl Rove, the so-called mastermind behind President George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004. “A lot of people believed that a Republican strategy to put a lot of wedge issues – social questions – on statewide ballots succeeded in drawing out conservative Evangelical voters to the benefit of Republican candidates. And, what people are seeing now with these ballot proposals, especially the union-rights ballot proposal, is an effort to [replicate] that,” Pluta explains.

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Election 2012
6:35 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Santorum rally in front of GOP headquarters fizzles

A rally was scheduled for last night to protest the Michigan Republican Party’s decision to award both of the state’s at-large national convention delegates to Mitt Romney. Supporters of Rick Santorum say he was denied his fair share of the delegates because he won almost half the statewide vote.

But only a handful of people showed up at the state Republican headquarters in Lansing, and they were quickly invited inside for a closed-door meeting with party officials. One of them was Spencer Austin, who said he was with Students for Santorum.

“I’m here to, uh, I’m not going to say protest -- because I think that’s a flaky term – I’m here just to prove a point: I feel that Santorum was cheated out of delegates," Austin said.

Matt Frendeway is a spokesman for the state Republican party.

“Republicans, from time to time we have disputes, we have disagreements, but we settle it within the family. We’re focused on November. We’re focused on defeating President Obama. And we’re going to sit down and talk about any differences we have and we’re going to settle them because, most importantly, we’re going to focus on November," said Frendeway.

A Facebook posting by a rally organizer says the effort is focused instead on recruiting people to run as delegates to the Michigan Republicans’ statewide convention in May that will decide who goes to the Republican  national convention.

State Republican Chairman Bobby Schostak has sent a letter to party activists apologizing for the confusion over how the delegates were allocated.

Commentary
11:32 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Last Word On Our Primary

We now know just about everything there is to know about the presidential primary we held last week. The votes are in, the robocalls have stopped, and the candidates are gone, most, probably, for good. The nominees will be back after the national conventions.

And as I look over what this campaign cost and what we got out of it, I am forced to the reluctant conclusion that the Michigan presidential primary was an overwhelmingly expensive failure.

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Election 2012
7:01 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Michigan's 15-15 delegate tie becomes Romney 16, Santorum 14

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives a victory speech Tuesday in Novi, Mich., after winning the state's primary.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 7:03 pm

The tussle over every last delegate in the GOP nomination battle could get ugly, if what happened in Michigan late Wednesday is any indicator.

In a 4-2 vote, the Credentials Committee of the Michigan Republican Party apparently reversed course on a stated delegate selection formula and awarded both statewide delegates to Mitt Romney. The committee includes three Romney supporters, but no Rick Santorum supporters.

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Breaking
1:17 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Michigan Republicans give Romney 16 delegates, Santorum 14

Update 5:11 p.m. - Santorum camp questions legitimacy of Michigan's Republican Party leadership after delegate flap

The Michigan Republican Party has awarded both of Michigan’s statewide at-large delegates to the Republican national convention this coming summer to Mitt Romney.

The decision by the Michigan Republican Party’s credentials committee was based on Romney’s slim majority of the popular vote in Tuesday’s primary.

But some people are crying foul. They say Rick Santorum’s close runner-up finish entitles him to one of the at-large delegates. And they say the rules were changed at the last minute to benefit Romney.

Matt Frendeway, spokesman for the state Republican Party, says that’s not true.

“Even before Tuesday night’s vote, this is exactly the way we intended to allocate the delegates. There’s no backdoor deals, no smoke-filled rooms, as some people might allege,” said Frendeway.

A spokesman for the Rick Santorum campaign says the decision calls into question the “legitimacy” of the state’s Republican Party leadership.

1:17 p.m.

This just in from Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief:

The Michigan Republican Party has awarded both the state's at-large national convention delegates to Mitt Romney, despite a close vote in Tuesday's primary.

A spokesman for top rival Rick Santorum says the decision by party leaders calls into questions the "legitimacy" of the Michigan Republican Party.

Former state Attorney General Mike Cox chairs the state GOP credentials committee and is a Romney supporter. But he tells the news service MIRS.dot.com that the committee's decision is "kind of like third world voting." Santorum and Romney evenly split the state's congressional districts -- and the delegates that go with them. That makes the delegate count 16 for Romney and 14 for Santorum.

Late yesterday afternoon it looked as thought the delegates would be evenly split - 15 to 15 - between Romney and Santorum. The official voting totals from Tuesday's presidential primary have not yet been certified by the Secretary of State.

Politics
10:29 am
Thu March 1, 2012

16 percent turnout for Michigan presidential primary

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan election officials say 16 percent of the state's registered voters cast ballots in this week's presidential primary election.

The secretary of state's office said Thursday 1.2 million of the state's nearly 7.3 million registered voters participated.

About 21 percent of the state's registered voters took part in Michigan's 2008 presidential primary, when Republicans had a contested race but Hillary Rodham Clinton was the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot.

Luce County had the highest voter turnout on Tuesday with 27.5 percent of registered voters casting ballots. Baraga County was second with 27.25 percent. Ottawa County came in third with 25.5 percent voting.

Mitt Romney won the popular vote in his home state, but will split Michigan's 30 convention delegates with second-place finisher Rick Santorum.

Election 2012
7:10 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Santorum claims partial Michigan victory

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s campaign says it’s wrong to call Mitt Romney’s slim edge in the popular vote in the Michigan primary a victory when they might both wind up with the same number of delegates. The latest count shows Romney and Santorum both winning seven Michigan congressional districts and the delegates that go with them.

“Strategically, we were targeting delegates more than anything else. Based on all those premises, you can only look at Michigan and move it to a tie,” says John Brabender, a senior Santorum campaign official.

The vote tally is still being finalized, but Braybender says Santorum and Romney should both qualify for 15 delegates. Romney has complained that Santorum called on Democrats to vote in the state’s GOP primary.

Election 2012
1:09 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Michigan's primary is over, but the delegate count isn't

Did Mitt Romney really "win" Michigan?
Gage Skidmore Flickr

Mitt Romney won the state's popular vote in Michigan's presidential primary last night, which is why many media organizations across the state, and nationally, are reporting a Michigan "win" for Romney.

But the picture on the final delegate count is still not clear.

The unofficial results are not in, but Rick Santorum's campaign held a conference call just a few minutes ago to report that they have unofficial voting data from the state.

A spokesman for Santorum says their numbers show that Santorum and his main rival in yesterday's presidential primary, Romney, will both be awarded one delegate each based on the state's popular vote.

The campaign spokesman went on to say that the latest numbers that they have (again, let's be clear, these have not been certified by the Secretary of State) show that both Santorum and Romney each won 7 congressional districts.

This would mean that each candidate won 14 delegates from those districts (because each congressional district delivers 2 delegates)... plus one delegate each from the popular vote. This, of course, would be a tie: 15 delegates each.

Primary News Roundup
8:42 am
Wed February 29, 2012

The national media's 3 week love affair with Michigan is over (almost)

Post-primary Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Well, the Michigan primary is over. Mitt Romney eked out a win in the state's popular vote (the delegate count is still being tallied). So, now it's time for the national media to move on to Super Tuesday states. But, it wouldn’t be a true morning-after-election without a little post-primary analysis, right?

  • Politico: Mitt Romney wins Ugly - "Romney could have been summing up his own candidacy when he said in his victory speech here: “We didn’t win by a lot but we won by enough and that’s what counts.”
  • Politico: 5 Takeaways from Arizona and Michigan - "It wasn’t pretty, and [Romney] carried Michigan by a smaller margin than in 2008, but the bottom line is that Romney was in a major political fight Tuesday — and he won... If he had lost Michigan, it’s hard to gauge the level of panic that would have unfolded within GOP ranks."
  • The New York Times: Romney faces stubborn question, despite victories - "[Romney] continues to face questions about whether, should he win the nomination, he will be able to capture the energy of the conservative constituencies that have propelled the party when it has had electoral success in recent years, especially evangelicals and the Tea Party movement."
  • Wall Street Journal: Santorum looks for silver lining - "Santorum must hope that keeping it close in Michigan still will provide a jolt of momentum—not to mention an infusion of cash and volunteers —as he turns his attention to Saturday's caucuses in Washington state and the 10 Super Tuesday contests that loom less than a week away."
  • Marketplace: Post-primary, what Michigan voters are concerned about - "We heard so much about the bailout... What we didn't hear about was the fact that there are still a ton of people in Michigan who owe more on their homes than they're worth... that's going to be a really, really important issue among Michigan voters come November."
  • NPR.org: Santorum left to mourn what could have been in Michigan - "Santorum and his campaign will likely look back on Michigan's 2012 primary not only as a heartbreaking loss in the battle against Mitt Romney but also as a historic lost opportunity."
Election 2012
11:49 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Mitt Romney wins popular vote in a close race in Michigan

Mitt Romney address supporters after his victory in Michigan.
Laura Weber MPRN

Mitt Romney pulled out a close victory over Rick Santorum in Michigan tonight. The win gives Romney momentum heading into his next challenge - "Super Tuesday" - when 10 states will hold primaries next Tuesday.

Update 11:49 p.m.

An analyst for the New York Times says Romney's "anti-bailout position" did not hurt him in this race:

Even Mr. Santorum's campaign made a last-minute push to get disgruntled union workers to vote against Mr. Romney for this reason. While primary voters were almost evenly divided on the issue, those who supported the bailout were no more likely to back Mr. Santorum over Mr. Romney.

11:25 p.m.

The Michigan Republican Party is tallying the results for Michigan's congressional districts. There are 30 delegates up for grabs in the state.

Even though Romney won the popular vote, Santorum can still pick up delegates by winning in a district. The delegate distribution will be determined after the Party crunches the numbers.

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Election 2012
6:28 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Stage is set in Michigan, waiting for results as last votes are cast

The stage for the Mitt Romney campaign party in Novi.
Laura Weber Michigan Radio

The campaigning is wrapping up. The last votes are being cast. Soon the candidates will sit back and watch the results.

And they won't be the only one's watching what happens in Michigan.

The nation's eyes are on the state. The results for the Arizona primary are coming in tonight too, but Michigan's race is much more competitive (Romney is expected to win in Arizona).

The Michigan results will be one more tea leaf - one more piece of evidence of who Republicans want facing President Obama in November's general election.  

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta will be covering things in Grand Rapids, where Rick Santorum and his campaign are holding a party at the Amway Grand Hotel.

And MPRN's Laura Weber will be with the Mitt Romney camp at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

We'll bring you results and updates as we have them.

Election 2012
12:43 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Seven minutes of pure politics (Dirty-tricks, polls, and delegates, oh my!)

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wants your vote. So does former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. And, Congressman Ron Paul. And... OK, you get the picture.
Gage Skidmore Flickr

It's here: The Michigan presidential primary.

You've got questions? We've got answers.

Join Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and me for seven minutes of pure-politics (you just gotta click the "listen" link above... really, it's that easy).

Want to know more about the Santorum campaign's so-called "dirty tricks"? We got that.

Want to know how Romney could win the state's popular vote... but Santorum could actually win more delegates? We got that, too.

Oh, and how about the latest poll numbers? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

So, take a listen... in seven minutes you'll get up to date on what you need to know about today's primary.

Commentary
10:36 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Politics By Other Means

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton probably won’t vote in the primary today, though he spends his life doing work that’s greatly affected by the political world. Nor does he seem impressed that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are fellow Roman Catholics.

Actually, he seems pretty appalled by them.

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Election 2012
7:19 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Santorum, Romney spar over economy ahead of Michigan primary

Rick Santorum (center) Monday at St. Mary's Cultural & Banquet Center in Livonia, Mich.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 5:12 pm

A day before Michigan's Republican presidential primary, Rick Santorum tried to outflank Mitt Romney on a fairly sensitive issue in Detroit: government bailouts.

Santorum blasted Romney for supporting the government's Wall Street bailout while loudly opposing its bailout of the auto industry.

Santorum, for his part, opposed both instances of government intervention in the private sector.

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Election 2012
7:16 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Michigan primary a test of Romney's family legacy

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds a vintage campaign poster of Romney's father, George Romney, in Albion, Mich.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:59 am

Michigan and Arizona hold presidential primaries Tuesday, and in Michigan, where Mitt Romney was born, the race has been as hard-fought as anywhere in the country.

For Romney, the campaign there has been personal. He often evokes the Michigan of his youth, when his father, George, ran American Motors and went on to become a very popular three-term governor.

But does that family legacy mean anything today?

If you were to go to a Romney event in Detroit or Kalamazoo or Traverse City, you'd be almost guaranteed to hear some Romney family history.

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Election 2012
6:28 am
Tue February 28, 2012

After weeks of campaigning, Election Day is here

Cle0patra Flickr

Election Day is here

After weeks of counting down the days, Michigan's presidential primary has arrived. Polls open this morning at 7 a.m. and Michigan voters will find eleven Republicans on the GOP presidential ballot and President Obama, uncontested, on the Democratic ballot. Votes for President Obama won't really count in today's primary, as the state Democratic Party will hold a caucus on May 5th.

Campaign finale

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were the three major GOP candidates who spent the most time campaigning across the state over the past few days (if you're wondering where Newt Gingrich has been, you can read more about some political theories for his absence here). Here are just a few of the stories that came out of the candidates' campaign stops yesterday:

And, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry; Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network Rick Pluta and I have been keeping an eye on the race:

Voter turnout

Election officials are, "expecting between 15 percent and 20 percent of the state's registered voters to cast ballots in the presidential primary election. About 21 percent of the state's registered voters participated in Michigan's 2008 presidential primary, when Republicans had a contested race but Hillary Rodham Clinton was the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot," the Associated Press reports.

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Presidential Primary
5:57 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Huh? A vote for Santorum is actually a vote for Gingrich? And, other political junkie theories

Rick Santorum is one of eleven Republicans that want your vote on Tuesday, the day of Michigan's presidential primary
Gage Skidmore Flickr

Four days. We are now four days away from the state’s super-important, all-encompassing presidential primary (just in case you don’t feel like doing the math – that would be Tuesday). At this point in the campaign, the most recent polls are showing Mitt Romney with a slight advantage over his main rival in the state, Rick Santorum.

Polling galore

“We have a Rasmussen poll that puts Mitt Romney ahead of Rick Santorum – outside of the margin of error – which would be an actual lead,” Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network explains. And, then there’s the new poll by Mitchell Research and Communications which also shows Romney in the lead but this one, “is inside the margin of error… a statistical tie. But, I think perhaps more important than specifically where the numbers are at, it’s what direction we’re seeing the race take,” Pluta notes.

The all-important TREND moving towards Romney

Rather than just looking at one or two polls, political campaigns tend to look at the actual trend of the numbers: are the numbers moving in the direction of one candidate or the other over a certain period of time and what the spread is between the numbers. “A lot of times, a lot of the media focuses on ‘if the election were held today, then this would be the result’ kind of coverage. And, political professionals certainly care about that… but, they care more about what the spread is, what the gap is, between the candidates and what direction everything is taking. And, right now, everything seems to be moving in Mitt Romney’s direction,” Pluta explains.

So, where’s Newt?

Newt Gingrich, who, just a few short weeks ago was seen as Mitt Romney’s main rival for the GOP nomination, has not actively campaigned in the state. “We have confirmed, what we have long suspected: Gingrich is really leaving Michigan to Rick Santorum to chew on Mitt Romney,” Pluta explains.

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Politics
5:46 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan gets some lovin' from the Republican presidential candidates

Former Senator Rick Santorum (above) and Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney both want your vote in Michigan's primary on February 28th.
Gage Skidmore Flickr

By now, it's probably not news to you that Michigan holds the nation’s next presidential primary on February 28th. And, it’s likely to be a doozy.

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Election 2012
7:50 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Forget about Florida… What about the Michigan primary?

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, or, at least, somewhere where there isn’t radio, television or the internet, you’ve most likely heard MORE than enough about the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the “game-changing” South Carolina primary and, of course, who could forget about tomorrow's all-important Florida primary.

Well, maybe you’re like me and Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief Rick Pluta and you feel like Michigan is getting left out of the conversation. Well, fear not, Pluta joined me on Friday to take a look at  Michigan’s Republican primary, scheduled for February 28th.

Romney has got this thing wrapped up... No, he doesn't. Oh wait, yes, he does.

We've got about a month to go before Michigan voters head to the polls for the state's presidential primary and it seems like one day we're hearing that Michigan's primary REALLY matters - that, indeed, the state will be influential in the Republican nominating process. But, then, just when we thought Michigan was important we hear the political pundits take back their political proclamations - claiming that no, in fact, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has got the state wrapped up. "I guess this is further evidence," Pluta says, "that anyone who is allowed to be a pundit should be required to wear something that says 'Don't follow me, I'm lost.'"

Michigan will matter... Really!

"Just a few weeks ago, we were written off," Pluta says, but, "things have changed so much since New Hampshire, we then had the Newt Gingrich surge... called Newtmentum. So, now... everyone is waiting to see what happens in Florida... and, then, we'll come out of that, and we'll go into Colorado and Minnesota - state's that really aren't as big as Michigan - and then, after February 7th, we have 21 days where there's nothing... and then the Michigan and Arizona primaries. And, Michigan WILL matter because momentum is everything going into Super Tuesday which happens shorty after Michigan and Arizona."

It's all about the "Big-Mo"... (Momentum, that is)

It's called the Big-Mo, or Big-Momentum, at least that's what political scientists and campaign strategists call it, and it's important. "I've talked to Republican strategists and they say, in a primary season, everything is about momentum. People are jumping in with whoever is surging and they're dropping off with whoever is lagging and so that's what you really, really want going into that all important Super Tuesday primary and Michigan is going to set the stage for that," Pluta explains. So, the idea is this: win Michigan and you go into Super Tuesday as a strong candidate with the air of inevitability.

Early primary = Fewer delegates

We reported quite a bit, last year, as the Michigan legislature tried to pick a date for the Michigan primary. Republican leaders wanted an early date for the primary - figuring that the earlier in the year the primary was held, the more influence the state would have in the national Republican campaign.

The only problem: Michigan broke the rules by holding an early primary. The date, "violates [Republican] Party rules and that will very likely result in Michigan's delegation to the Republican National Convention to be cut in half but, the [State] Legislature is really dominated by Romney supporters and what they wanted to do was... give Romney an early victory... that creates momentum going forward. It was actually considered more important for Romney to have that early momentum going ahead than to actually rack up as many delegates as he possibly could coming out of Michigan," Pluta explains.

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