Dem 51
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GOP 49
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What's Good for the Goose Is What's Good for the Michigander

The good people of Michigan headed to the polls yesterday, and produced results fairly well in line with what we've seen in the other primaries and caucuses thus far.

Starting on the Democratic side because that is where the main (and really only) drama was, Joe Biden easily won all of Michigan's delegates, taking 80.5% of the vote, as compared to about 3% each for his two "rivals," Rep. Dean Phillips (DFL-MN) and Marianne Williamson, with 89% reporting. One wonders what Phillips is still doing in the race, when he struggles to outpace someone who dropped out multiple weeks ago (as of this writing, he's actually behind her by about 2,000 votes).

The other 13.8% of the Democratic vote was for "uncommitted." This option exists to allow primary voters to cast a protest vote. The problem is that such a vote is only a very blunt instrument. Some chunk of the uncommitted vote is coming from people who want Biden to stand down because of his age. Some additional chunk is coming from people who are unhappy about what's going on in Israel. Biden will only have a general idea of what percentage is in the former group, what percentage is in the latter group, and what percentage is in both groups. And he definitely isn't going to know how many of those voters are only mounting a primary-election protest, and how many simply will not vote for him in November.

That said, the candidate can't do anything about the age problem, and so the only thing he can potentially work on is the Israel problem. As of last night, he knows he's got to do that. So, at least some of the uncommitted voters achieved what they set out to achieve. However, he surely also knew that before folks headed to the polls yesterday. After all, he sent every high-profile member of his national defense team to Michigan last week to spread the message that the administration is doing what it can. It also appears pretty clear to us that Biden is going to maneuver very slowly in the Middle East, as is his style, but that the situation in November will be pretty different from the situation today.

Moving on to the Republican side, Donald Trump romped, as he always does. He claimed 68.2% of the vote and 9 delegates, as compared to 26.5% and 2 delegates for Nikki Haley, with 93% reporting. Another 5 delegates will be awarded once the vote tallies are finalized, while 39 more will be awarded at the state GOP convention(s?) this Saturday. So, last night was not exactly decisive when it comes to delegate totals.

After the top two Republican finishers, "Uncommitted" got 2.4% of the vote, while the remaining ballots went to the various candidates who have dropped out of the race. Haley did worse than she did in South Carolina and in New Hampshire; in both of those places she checked in with about 40% of the vote. Since the former is her home state and the latter is demographically friendly to her (and she campaigned hard there), the Michigan result is probably more indicative of how she's going to do in the various Super Tuesday contests. Beyond that, we'll see in a couple of days if more fine-grained data tells us anything more about the results (as it possibly does with South Carolina; see below).

In the end, though, there's only one question that's really important. Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes in 2016 and he lost it by 154,188 votes in 2020. So, the state is surely going to be close in 2024. Yesterday, roughly 20% of Democrats and roughly 35% of Republicans voted for someone other than the presumptive nominee of their party. And the bottom line is that Trump is going to need a much larger percentage of those folks to come home than Biden will. (Z)

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