Mitt Romney won a solid 39-to-30-percent victory over John McCain in Michigan on Tuesday, with Mike Huckabee in third place with 16 percent, while Hillary Clinton prevailed over "uncommitted" on the Democratic side by a 55-to-40-percent margin.
Breaking down the vote shows a couple of interesting patterns. The Republican race was a sharply different in metro Detroit and in outstate Michigan. Counting metro Detroit as Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Washtenaw, and Monroe counties, and outstate as the rest of the state, the results are as follows:
Romney's economic appeal scored best in metro Detroit, especially in Oakland County, where he grew up and which cast more Republican votes than any other county. In outstate Michigan, which is less tied to the Big Three American automakers, he beat McCain by only 35 to 32 percent—not an outstanding showing for either one of them. As for Huckabee, the exit poll showed him winning only 7 percent of the votes of those not classifying themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians—very much an also-ran performance—while only tying Romney among born-again/evangelicals. Huckabee did not come close to finishing second in any of the state's 15 congressional districts.
Clinton's performance was pretty much uniform throughout the state, except in its two black-majority congressional districts (each of which now includes significant amounts of mostly white suburbia). Here are the numbers:
|CDs 1-12, 15||264,418||57||172,951||38||461,051|
The exit poll showed black voters favoring uncommitted over Clinton by a wide margin. About 20 percent of Michigan Democratic primary voters were black, and this suggests trouble for Clinton in states voting soon where blacks are likely to form 20 percent or more of the Democratic primary electorate: South Carolina (where the percentage is likely to be around 50), Florida, New York, Illinois, and Georgia.
Republican turnout, as you can see, was higher than Democratic turnout, the first contest this year in which this has been true. But this is of limited good news for Republicans, since Democratic turnout was undoubtedly depressed by the fact that Barack Obama and John Edwards had, in response to Democratic National Committee demands, removed their names from the ballot and no Democrats campaigned extensively here. Moreover, the Republican turnout of 868,000 was far below the 1,324,000 who voted in the 2000 Michigan Republican primary. That number was inflated by the heavy and unusual participation of self-identified independents and Democrats: The exit poll indicated that 35 percent of Republican primary voters were self-identified independents and 17 percent self-identified Democrats. The proportions in 2008 were 25 percent self-identified independents and 7 percent self-identified Democrats. If you adjust the 2000 turnout to reflect similar participation, there still would have been about 1,060,000 Republican primary voters then—22 percent more than voted last Tuesday. That decline is a bad sign for Republicans for November.