The Republican race remains a wide open affair after Mitt Romney’s victory. Romney, Huckabee, and McCain now all have victories, and the race is becoming more a race for accumulating delegates than individual victories. We will know soon whether Fred Thompson can win in South Carolina to become a credible candidate, and whether Rudy Giuliani’s strategy of waiting for Florida and Super Tuesday. So far Giuliani and Thompson are doing more poorly than Ron Paul.
Romney’s victory might be written off as being due to being a favorite son as his father was once governor here. While that certainly helped, it is not enough to explain his victory, especially as the older voters, who would have remembered his father, went for McCain.
The most important factor in Romney’s victory, beyond the fortunes spent on advertising, was that he did the best at convincing voters that under him Washington could fix Michigan’s economic problems. That is hardly a traditional Republican message, as Ross Douthat has discussed. David Brooks wrote:
In Michigan, the full corporate Mitt was on display. His campaign was a reminder of how far corporate Republicans are from free market Republicans.
Hillary Clinton beat uncommitted, but not that impressively. I wonder how many additional anti-Clinton votes were not even counted as write in votes for Obama and Edwards were discarded. The big losers were the Michigan Democrats who were willing to break party rules to have an early event, and then have it become irrelevant. Now that the campaign appears like it could go on even beyond Super Tuesday, a later primary with participating candidates would have been far more significant.
It is difficult to evaluate the results of the Michigan primary as those who turned out might not be a representative sample. It might be a bad sign for Clinton that exit polls show blacks supported uncommitted over Clinton by a 70-26 percent margin. As was the case in earlier contests, Clinton did more poorly among younger voters, more educated voters, and more affluent voters.