Live Blogging Michigan and Arizona

8:05 Late start tonight. Sorry. But had to get the beer out of the freezer.  (Miller Lite as the intro beer.)

I’m watching CNN.  And what do you know – Callista Speaks!

She introduces the Newtster.  He’s going to give his speech to his Georgia supporters, which is his must win state next Tuesday.  (He’s up big in the polls there now, but who knows what will happen if Santorum wins Michigan.  right now Mitt is in danger of getting shut out entirely in Georgia.

sidestory – I taught Nelson Polsby’s classic work on the How Congress Evolves today in my seminar.  Polsby explains how the Republicans rose to prominence in the South – (hint: it had a lot to do with demographic changes, but air conditioning played a role).  Polsby bases his argument in part on conversations with Newt Gingrich. When you read Gingrich’s comments, you understand perfectly why he does so well in debates: he’s pithy, comprehensive and entertaining.  (He was also a bit thinner I’m guessing).

But I digress.  Meanwhile, back at the speech – what is Newt’s point —- who was that laughing?  Porky Pig? – Quick!  $10,000 what the point of Professor Gingrich’s lecture is!  It’s like listening to one of my lectures….

ah, and here’s the point!  There’s always a point, isn’t there?  He says the tree felling incident proves that a lot of people like him, even though he’s not too smart!  He’s playing the humble Newt role before his home base.  Newt is a lumberjack, and he’s ok!

Ok, back to the exit poll data. It looks like Democrats constitute about 10% of the voters – more than the 7% that turned out in 2008, but less than the 17% from 2000.  Keep in mind that we wouldn’t be talking about Democratic turnout if this wasn’t so close – it’s a function of Mitt’s weakness.

Which reminds me.  I can’t use Operation Hilarity.  It’s a stupid title.  A free “It’s the Fundamentals, Stupid” t-shirt to someone who can come up with the best descriptive phrase for my plan to set up a brokered Republican convention.  It needs to be short and imaginative – but accurate too.

By the way, CNN is playing up what a disaster it will be if Romney loses his home state.  I disagree, mainly because I think he’s already a weak candidate and he’s not likely to do well next week no matter  what the outcome in Michigan.  Again, there’s what actually happens tonight, and what the media will say happened tonight.  They are not necessarily the same thing.

We should probably mention what Chris noted in the comments: Olympia Snowe, one of the few remaining moderates in the Senate, has announced she is stepping down, in large part because of the increasing polarization in Congress.  Remember that Snowe was one of few Republicans to actually engage Obama on both the stimulus and health care bills.   Her departure will only widen the gulf between the two parties.

Chris asks about Snowe as a potential V.P. candidate?  Back in 2008, heading into the Republican Convention, I predicted that McCain would choose a woman as his vice presidential candidate, and was widely ridiculed for saying so.  Did I know he was going to pick Palin?   Of course not – I had never heard of her!  I had Olympia Snowe or Kay Bailey Hutchison in mind.   But Chris – why not Olympia for president coming out of the brokered Republican convention?

Anna Esten says Newt’s new “fight” song is one used by Hulk Hogan, of WWE fame.  I’m waiting for Newt to rip his shirt off and tell all those Newtomaniacs to eat their vitamins and remember the 1o demandments, brother!

Wolf is going to have a heart attack on CNN as he tries to keep up with the vote totals.  Meanwhile, John King’s magic wall has been acting up all night.

Keep in mind that the exit numbers that are being bandied about on various sites are not the final ones – they get adjusted based on overall turnout figures.   For what it’s worth, the number of self-described conservatives who voted is actually higher than in 2008, despite the slight uptick in Democrats.

CNN switched to Ron Paul just as he was haranguing the Fed – great timing.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out how he gets his supporters to get so revved up when they’ve heard this speech a gazillon times.  At least Newt switched it up tonight and talked about logging. Heck, Ron’s supporters are shouting out his lines before he even speaks them.

Note that Paul’s recital of the events of the Cuban Missile crisis only tells part of the story.  In fact, JFK used carrots (trading the missiles) but he also threatened the stick (the illegal blockade).

Keep in mind that we haven’t seen the final exit polls as yet – the results that have been leaked have not yet been adjusted for turnout.  so be cautious with these numbers.

We should get Arizona called in a few seconds.  Note that as I blogged earlier today we shouldn’t be certain that in the end Romney will in fact get all of Arizona’s 29 delegates – I’m pretty sure there will be a rules challenge at the convention.  for now, however, we put them in Mitt’s column.

Jeff Greenfield tweets that while Mitt gets 29 delegates, it won’t matter at all if he loses Michigan.  That is typical media nonsense.  It’s about the delegates, not the media spin.  Assuming he gets to keep those delegates this is a big win, if not unexpected.  The problem the media is having is that they set the bar unrealistically high for Mitt because this is his “home state”, and now they are punishing him from not reaching their outlandish expectations.  The reality is Mitt is doing as well in Michigan this time around as he did in 2008.  This has been the story for Mitt all year long – he pretty much is reprising his 2008 performance, but he hasn’t expanded his coalition at all.

Meanwhile, not a lot of talk by the talking heads about what a loss here means for Santorum.  He really needs to do well in the rust belt area and Michigan was expected to be one of his better states.

Let me touch on a few of the exit poll numbers in Arizona. Interestingly, Romney wins a third of the Hispanic/Latino vote which was only 8% of the total Arizona vote.  Still, that is pretty impressive.  Meanwhile, Santorum actually does better among women, winning 31% of their vote, but only 24% of men.   So much for his social issues turning women voters off.  Once again, as we go up the income ladder, Romney’s support increases while Santorum’s support decreases.  Mitt wins 64% of those earning more than $200,000, but only 34% of those earning less than $30,000 – about the same as Santorum among this income group.  So, he gets the Cadillac vote.  35% of Arizona voters are “strong” supporters of the Tea Party – Santorum beats Romney 39%-35%.  Again, I see no evidence in Arizona at least that Romney has dispelled any of the weaknesses in his candidacy that we’ve cited before.  No broadening of the coalition.  However, if you add in “somewhat” support Tea Party Romney gains support.   Similarly, 37% of Arizona vote are evangelicals – Romney loses them as well to Santorum, 38% to 33%.  Again, this does not bode well for SuperTuesday for Mitt.  biggest support for Mitt?  14% of Arizona vote is Mormon – they go for Mitt with 91% support!  More than half of the Arizona electorate decided for whom they would support in January or earlier – in other words, long before Mitt’s vulnerabilities were apparent.

When we look at Michigan, we see a similar pattern in exit polls. Mitt’s support increases in almost linear fashion as we go up the income ladder.  According to exit polls Romney loses the under $100,000 voters, but wins the 33% who earn more than $100,o00 by 12% over Santorum.

(By the way, is it me or does it seem like the CNN pundits have grown subdued now that Mitt is pulling away in Michigan?  There’s goes the horse race!)

Once again, Santorum doesn’t seem to suffer from a gender gap in support in Michigan.  It’s a reminder that the women’s vote turns largely on social welfare issues – not so-called “women’s” issues related to contraception, abortion, etc.

Several tweeters have noted the exit polls “discrepancy” which show Santorum winning both strong Tea Party supporters and those who strongly oppose the Tea Party in Michigan.  Of course, that likely reflects the Democratic crossover vote.

Eyeballing turnout figures, it doesn’t look like an increase over 2008, but that’s projecting tonight’s total based on preliminary figures.

Santorum easily wins the 39% of self-identified evangelicals in Michigan, beating Mitt in this group 50-35%.

Biggest story of the night so far:  Santorum misses the chance to win his best primary state so far.  Already the talking heads are blaming his defeat on tactical moves in the last days of the campaign, but frankly I don’t see any evidence that they are right.  Gloria Borger says Rick forfeited populist economic message, but in fact Rick won low income voters.   Media always goes back to campaign tactics, but that’s usually not the story.

Santorum is on for his concession speech.  Great opening music!

More on media missing the story here: Borger says Rick went off message in last few days, cost him support.  Maybe, but among voters who made up mind in last few days (24%), Rick wins over Mitt 42-34%. Even among the 30% who thought the debate was important, Rick lost to Mitt by only 3%.

CNN is now projecting Mitt to win Michigan tonight.  Cue media spin – Mitt rescued his candidacy tonight!  Sigh.

Biggest news tonight?  My winning streak when it comes to predictions is broken!  Let the critics descend!

Not much evidence of a gender gap in Rick’s support, but that’s not stopping the pundits from saying there is one.  Repeat after me: so-called “women’s issues” – abortion, contraception, etc. do not drive the women’s vote as much as support for social welfare programs and ability to keep the peace.

Interestingly, the Democrat CNN talking head just said Rick lost working women – he actually won working women in Michigan, based on exit polls.  The pundits are fixated on this gender issue, but there’s just no evidence that it mattered. …

I’ve got an early teaching time tomorrow so I’m going to have to cut this short tonight.  But there’s three things to keep in mind.

1. Rick may yet win more delegates in Michigan than does Mitt – remember, delegates are largely allocated to by congressional district.  Because much of Mitt’s support is more concentrated in Detroit area, it is possible that he will win the popular vote but won’t quite win the delegate race.  However, Mitt will exceed his 2008 total vote in Michigan.  Still waiting to calculate overall turnout.  It would be nice if a Mitt victory was accompanied by an increase in voter turnout!

2. Once again Rick has failed to win the popular vote in a big primary state.

3. It bears repeating – Mitt has once again shown little ability to attract support from lower income voters or Tea Party supporters.  He just can’t seem to broaden his coalition.

Bottom line: the race remains where it was before tonight.  Mitt is slogging his way to victory, delegate by delegate, but without generating much enthusiasm among rank and file Republican voters.  And I suspect next Tuesday will not be his strongest day of the race.   There’s a long way to go… .

If I’m a Republican, I’m still angling for a brokered convention….meanwhile, it’s on to Super Tuesday!  Let’s do it all again a week from now.

More tomorrow….let’s break out the scotch.  It’s a wrap.



  1. Jeff – I was going to ask you. Anyone out there know? Newt used to do Eye of the Tiger, but he got sued so dropped that one.

  2. As we wait for things to get interesting, I’ll throw this out there. Olympia Snowe announced she is not going to seek re-election. This opens a Republican seat up – but it also removes one of the most moderate Senators. It’ll be very interesting to see exactly what happens here. Also, not that she brings enough electoral votes to the ticket, but does she now become a VP candidate to one of the conservatives?

  3. Thanks Anna….interesting side story. The Hulk flirted with a presidential bid in 2000.

  4. If there is a brokered convention it is possible that Snowe comes out ahead – but unlikely I think. I can’t imagine the Republican party as the first to nominate a woman. Also, as a moderate and a STRONG history of working with the Dems she won’t excite the conservative base, basically the same problem Romney has. BTW, I read “But Chris – why Olympia for president coming out of the brokered Republican convention?” with a NOT inserted after why.

  5. I’m relieved to know the song name.

    By the way, Wolf Blitzer is sounding especially ridiculous/goofy tonight as the numbers change. He sounds younger than my nine year old.

  6. Chris – Snow’s moderation is exactly what the Republicans want in the general election. the idea is that the base will turn out for the opportunity to beat Obama. And keep in mind that it’s the Republican who always breaks the gender barriers. Think Sandra Day O’Conner.

    Remember, it takes a Nixon to go to China! (Spock said that to Kirk).

  7. Professor,
    How far along this process do we need to get before there will be a brokered convention? With the switch to proportional delegates it seems like as long as Newt shows strong in March that its highly likely?!?!

  8. Chris – I wouldn’t say it’s highly likely.Instead, I still think it’s a longshot. But it’s more likely than in previous years, I think, and that is partly because of the change in how delegates are allocated. Some of my political science colleagues in the profession disagree, but I have long argued that the switch in delegate allocation creates incentives for candidate like Newt to stay in the race, whereas in previous election cycles they might have dropped out. Keep in mind that because of the dispute over district lines, Texas may not vote until late into April. Newt will certainly hold out for that state.

  9. Prof. Strange – I think the Michigan call is looking good. Odds are that you are right re: the nomination as well – but I’m not ready to give it to Mitt yet. But I think nothing has happened tonight – yet – to change the idea that Mitt remains the frontrunner – a weak frontrunner – but the frontrunner nonetheless.

  10. This looks like a Mitt win. But the media tends to down play “holding serve.” So what I’m guessing is a lot of conversation about the “almost” of Michigan. It also moves Romney closer to becoming the candidate – depending on what happens in March, I just don’t see Santorum or Gingrich coming back from this. Not that it was a huge WIN for Romney, rather that there are things that had to go right for Santorum that at this point don’t look like they are going to.

  11. Chris – Agree on the media downplaying what may turn out to be Romney twin-killing. It kills the horserace excitement. Keep in mind, however, that Mitt and Rick may end up splitting the delegates in Michigan. This is not an overwhelming victory for anyone.

  12. Palin was the only woman McCain could have chosen.

    Would Democrats tolerate an anti-abortion VP candidate?

  13. Re Paul: A vision of a free society is exhilarating.

    We libertarians don’t get to hear our own cliches as often as liberals and conservatives do.

    Paul has a solid record, so we know he means nearly everything he says.

    There’s also excitement for how well Paul is doing, and appreciation for how hard he is working.

  14. I forgot, I had one more point about how Paul’s speeches differ from those of most mainstream politicians. Most of what he has to say is substantive, about the policy changes we believe in and get excited about. There’s not much ‘apple pie is great’ and ‘the trees are the right height’.

    Paul has been a hero for civil liberties in the post 9-11 era. IMO that more than makes up for decades old newsletters.

  15. Santorum winning both strong Tea Party supporters and those who strongly oppose the Tea Party in Michigan.

    Not nearly as strange as the anti-war voters supporting McCain in 2008.

    I’m still puzzling over why Michelle Bachmann didn’t make a comeback after Perry’s collapse, nor after Cain’s.

  16. At least one exit poll showed Santorum losing the Catholic vote to Romney. Do you think his dissing JFK could have made a big difference?

  17. @Chris 8:36

    If the convention nominates a pro-choice candidate, we’ll see excitement like we’ve never seen excitement.

  18. the base will turn out for the opportunity to beat Obama.

    Indeed they will. They won’t be voting for the pro-choice Republican. They’ll be voting for the anti-abortion candidate of the newly formed Party of Life, which will dwarf the rump Republican Party.

    Or have I fallen through a looking glass? What world is this?

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