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What It Might Mean for Michigan to Vote Early in Democratic Primaries


With Michigan muscle enters the pantheon of countries with early presidents, is it time to sell your ethanol stock and invest in auto parts futures? Stop pretending you like cornbread and buttered beef and start gobbling up rectangular deep-fried pizza with pepper sausage buried under an avalanche of brick cheese?

I was only joking in part. There’s a reason Michigan Republicans are engaged in Representative Debbie Dingell’s lengthy quest to get their state ahead of Iowa on the Democratic nomination calendar, though it may cause some potential problems that I will cover later.

“That’s good for Michigan,” said Saul Anuzis, a Republican adviser and former party chair for the state. “When you only have eight battleground states, the presidential races take place only in those eight states, while more than 40 other states are completely ignored.”

Dinell, a Democrat, said that “the states that nominate the president early are the deciding factor in the agenda in Washington.” She said a good exercise list of reasons that Michigan belongs to a few. And whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, she added, “You can’t win the White House without the heart of America.”

That also goes well for Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. — especially when he learned of the fact that two other leaders in his party, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries, both from Brooklyn.

“It was very comfortable terrain for him,” said Mike Murphy, a longtime Republican strategist who has long served in Michigan politics.

Real. It’s hard not to detect a taste of revenge in Biden’s decision – which he made clear on Thursday in a letter to members of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Regulations Committee. – to accept more Michigan into the stub states group along with Georgia, while moving towards South Carolina towards the front of the pack.

Biden has a poor record in the 2020 Iowa caucuses, finishing fourth with only 15.8 percent of the vote. (It should be noted that Iowa also performed poorly — with a technology glitch delaying results and making it impossible for the state’s Democrats to determine a winner.)

He then raged in New Hampshire, dropping to an embarrassing fifth place and only 8.4 percent of the vote. It wasn’t until South Carolina, third on that year’s primary calendar, that Biden won — and then he built momentum on Super Tuesday that brought him to the nomination.

But Biden’s uncanny trajectory only amplifies an indictment many Democrats have voiced for years about the first two states on the primaries calendar: that they’re not just underrepresented in terms of diversity. race — 90% of Iowans are white — but also over-educated voters in those states who have developed a taste for weird politics, embracing lounge favorites faculty like Paul Tsongas, who could never win in the fall.

“We must ensure that voters of color have a say in selecting our candidates much earlier in this process and throughout the entire initial phase,” Biden wrote. “As I said in February 2020, you cannot become the Democratic candidate and win the general election unless you have overwhelming support from voters of color — and including including Black, Brown and Asian American & Pacific Islander voters.”

Winning a Democratic primary state as diverse as Michigan requires a candidate who can do well among Black voters in cities like Detroit, as well as among federal supporters. and college-educated voters of all races in the suburbs, said Adrian Hemond, a Democratic strategist. based in Lansing.

“Someone like Joe Biden,” he added.

“That makes a lot of sense,” said Eric Hyers, who directs Biden’s 2020 campaign in Michigan. “Everybody knows that the road to 270 runs through Michigan.”

For Democratic strategists, Michigan has a lot to offer. In contrast to Iowa, which has become an uncompetitive subsection of general elections in recent years, investments in the Michigan nomination process are likely to pay off in the fall. .

And with 10 million people, it’s arguably just the right size: not so big that winning becomes a costly arms race waged on television, as happened in California, but big enough to attracted many voters, like the Muslims of Dearborn and Hamtramck, it was a microcosm of communities elsewhere.

Hyers added: “There is not just one media market and it is very expensive. “You can also build a strong and effective organizational program.”

If Michigan makes the cuts, along with Georgia, it has the potential to change the way presidential candidates run for office in the near future — and not necessarily in predictable ways.

The most obvious impact on Democrats may be precisely what Biden mentioned: it elevates the party’s diverse coalition of Black and Brown communities to reflect their true weight in the party. .

But it can also lead to some surprising results, especially on the Republican side.

“Instead of a minefield, this is like a field full of kangaroo holes where you could break an ankle,” said Mark Grebner, a Democratic commissioner in Michigan’s Ingham County.

Grebner notes that because Michigan does not require voters to register by party, it is possible that presidential primaries could involve a large amount of cross-voting.

In the past, that has led to some strange results. In 1972, George Wallace, the racist governor of Alabama, won the Democratic primary in Michigan over George McGovern, the final candidate, with the help of Republican voters.

Unlike Democrats, Republicans closed their list of states early, with Iowa and New Hampshire first as usual. Under Republican National Committee rules, Michigan can be a delegate to the party’s national convention if it holds primaries before the four major states.

Anuzis said that Republicans can avoid the RNC’s delegate penalty by holding what’s known as a “preferred primary” at the same time that Democrats hold the election. full preliminary.

The outcome would essentially be a voter’s proposal to the state party committee, which would then select the candidate through some sort of activity such as a nominating convention or state caucus.

Depending on what rules the Republican Party passes, provided that pro-Trump activists firmly hold on to Republican roots in Michigan, an insider-driven process could bring benefits candidates on the political fringes. This year, the Michigan Republican Party nominated Kristina Karamo, a far-right podcaster, as a candidate for secretary of state; she lost 14 percentage points.

Obviously, Iowa (and New Hampshire, for that matter) isn’t going down without a fight.

Officials in both states have said they plan to hold early presidential runs, regardless of what the Democratic National Committee agrees on in meetings this weekend. New Hampshire’s status as a primordial state is enshrined in law, as the chairman of the Democratic Party there, Raymond Buckley, noted in an angry statement Thursday.

We’ll see what happens. On Friday, the Democratic National Committee on Rules and Regulations issued a letter asked New Hampshire to change its laws to accommodate South Carolina’s attempt to become the first primary state. There is still a lot of messy negotiations that need to be done before any final decisions are made.

For now, the Michigan Democrats who have pushed, coaxed, and lobbied their colleagues to change the calendar aren’t ready for a spike in green and yellow (or blue and white) football. ).

After all, Michigan has been waiting a generation for the nod. “It was really important to me that people realized that Carl Levin started this,” said Dingell, noting that she and Levin, the former senator, had died last yearbeen trying to add Michigan for three decades.

“We almost won in 2008,” Dingell added. “We made it to the finish line, and in the end we were broken.”

This time, she said, “I wouldn’t believe it was done until it was done.”


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