Hillary Clinton was the only first-tier Democrat on the ballot in the MI primary, but that doesnâ€™t mean voters had no choice but to vote for her.
And MI Dems exercised their right not to vote for Hillary by staying home (turnout was low, with only 20 percent of registered voters participating); voting for Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel (as did 21,259 and 2,294, respectively); crossing party lines to vote for one of the Republican candidates (exit polling suggests that John McCain got 41 percent of these votes, Mitt Romney got 33 percent and Mike Huckabee, 14 percent); or voting â€œuncommitted,â€ and taking a chance that their preferred candidate might not get those delegates at the national convention in August.
Like a slowly deflating balloon, as the percentage of precincts counted increased Hillaryâ€™s share of the vote sank. Starting at 62 percent, she was down to 58 percent an hour after the polls closed and finished at 55 percent when all the votes had been counted.
Meanwhile, the number of voters who chose â€œuncommittedâ€ â€“ for all intents and purposes, a vote against Clinton â€“ kept rising. Forty percent of all voters chose this option â€“ as did 68 percent of black voters. Fox News exit polls indicate that three-quarters of black voters would have cast ballots for Barack Obama, if they could have.
This is just the latest evidence that Clintonâ€™s support among blacks has eroded precipitously compared to just a month ago. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, Obama has a nearly 2:1 advantage over Clinton amongst black voters (60 percent v. 32 percent). This bodes ill for Clinton going into the primaries in Southern states.
Among Dems, black voters make up nearly half the vote in SC and GA (47 percent each), as well as LA (46 percent) and more than a third of the vote in VA and MD.
On the Republican side, Mitt Romney had a huge win over John McCain (39 percent vs. 30 percent), with Mike Huckabee coming in third at 16 percent. While the win puts Romney back in contention â€“ and gives him the distinction of being the only candidate whoâ€™s won more than one primary or caucus so far – he does not necessarily come out of MI with the momentum to overcome Huckabeeâ€™s strength in SC.
In the RealClearPolitics Average of four polls, Romney is currently trailing Huckabee by 10 points. If Huckabee comes out of SC with a solid win, he has the momentum to challenge Giuliani and McCain for a first or second place finish in FL – the RCP Average for the FL primary currently has Giuliani and McCain tied at 21.3 percent, with Huckabee at 18.3 percent and Romney at 17 percent.
MI was do-or-die for Romney, but he could just be a dead man walking.
Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.