Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Romney Flip Flops Again, Wins Michigan

Ugh. Actually, it's not so bad- this will keep Romney in the race for a while longer, which means we'll be treated to more of Hugh Hewitt's riotous excuses for Romney's future failures.

And so we turn to our ritual look inside the exit polls. And what we find is:

-That 42% of Michigan's voters thought Romney's ties to the state as the son of a former governor were either somewhat important or very important. Of these two groups of voters, Romney won over 55% of the vote. Of the remaining 58% of voters who found Romney's ties to be unimportant or not too important, McCain won by a handy margin. In other words, Romney won because of his daddy. Apparently Michigan Republicans haven't learned from the Bush administration fiasco that electing the son of a respected politician doesn't mean you get the respected politician back.

-That Romney won big amongst the remaining Bush stalwarts who made up a little over half the primary voters, and lost big amongst the rest. This suggests that good news for the Bush Administration is good news for Romney. Depressingly, it also means that good news in Iraq is perhaps not as good as though for McCain. This conclusion is bolstered by the fact that Romney won by progressively larger amounts depending on the strength of support for the Iraq War. Given that the current, much more successful, strategy was heavily influenced by McCain, these voters seem to have a strange understanding of what makes a good commander-in-chief. That said, McCain did win big amongst the surprisingly small percentage of voters who viewed Iraq as their top issue.

-The TNR piece seems to have hurt Ron Paul badly. A respectable 12 percent of voters viewed him as the candidate most likely to bring "needed change," yet he won less than half of those voters. By comparison, Romney won 88% of the plurality of delusional voters who viewed him as the "change" candidate, as did McCain; Huckabee pulled a respectable 79%. The numbers for Giuliani and Thompson are unreliable due to an extremely small sample size.

-Also strange- Romney appears to have been the second choice for Paul voters, pulling 22% of people who thought Paul was the best candidate of change. Since, as I've argued, Romney is the least libertarian of all candidates on the GOP side, it seems likely that he pulled potential voters from Paul whose top issue was immigration but saw that Paul had no chance and that the relatively pro-immigrant McCain did.

- As would be expected, Romney won big on voters whose top priority is the economy. More surprising though is that McCain won by 7 points amongst voters who rated the national economy as "poor," and only lost by five points amongst voters who rated it just "not good." Amongst the 30% who thought the economy is "good," Romney won by 20. Which pretty much means that Romney's appeal on economic issues - even in the relatively pro-market GOP primary - is limited to voters who are being hurt the least in Michigan's one-state recession. Surprisingly, the populist Mike Huckabee's appeal was unaffected by views on the economy.

- DKos' Vote Romney campaign had mixed results. Romney only lost by 8 amongst Dem crossover voters, (I would have expected McCain to about double Romney among Dem voters), and actually won by a few points amongst liberal voters, so it would seem the Kos campaign had a definite effect of perhaps one or two percentage points in the final tally. But that only slightly boosted Romney's surpsing victory margin.

-One of McCain's big problems appears to be that he only won by 6 points among independent voters, who made up a quarter of the electorate. I would have expected a somewhat higher turnout amongst that group for McCain.

-Romney won big on the 44% of "values" voters, with McCain not surprisingly trailing Huckabee in that group. Romney also took a straight majority of the "experience" voters and, disturbingly, a majority of the "electability" voters (we're going to chalk that last group up to small sample size, m'kay?)

- Republicans might want to work on that diversity thing - 96% white voters? Yikes! That's a recipe for slaughter in the general election seeing as whites are only about 80% of Michigan's overall population.

- I fail to understand how illegal immigration (13%) is the top priority for more voters than terrorism (11%) in a state with a whopping 4% Latino population.

Other than that, this last week or so has been gawdawful for the independent-minded voter, with only McCain's New Hampshire win to hang our hats on. Obama was shocked, Ron Paul was exposed as an enabler of racists, and now "Battlefield Earth" Romney has gotten his campaign back on track. Ugh.