Is this any way to run a primary season?
Michigan is a huge contest, because if Rick Santorum beats Mitt Romney in one of his home states (which apparently include New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Nevada, Utah and California, among others), it represents a major setback to the notion that Romney will simply win, damn the evidence and damn the results. It would be a big momentum setter for Santorum, and a buzz killer for Romney going into Super Tuesday on March 6.
As many of our diarists have noted, and as this Behind the Numbers article clarifies, anyone in Michigan can vote:
Michigan is effectively an open primary and is open to Republicans as well as independents and Democrats who choose a Republican ballot at their polling place. (Fun fact: Michigan labels its primary a “closed” event, but this just refers to the fact that voters can’t participate in both Republican and Democratic events).
Independent turnout could be boosted or depressed by changes since 2008. The absence of a Democratic contest could lead to higher independent participation in the GOP primary. But new voting disclosure rules could make voters leery of casting a ballot. In compliance with a 2008 lawsuit, the secretary of state will make voters’ party preference in the primary public after the election (see page 15 here [.pdf]).
The independent turnout is really key for Romney, because while he leads with indies in the polls, he trails with Republicans. A Romney win would perhaps indicate a higher than "the one quarter of all voter" turnout in 2008:
This year, Romney leads Santorum by 10 points among political independents in the Detroit News poll, but is trailing by the same margin among rank-and-file Republicans, according to pollster Richard Czuba. His overall deficit is attributable to the fact that independents made up only one in four likely voters in the sample, which is similar to their share of 2008 primary voters.
On the other hand, if Romney loses, well, that's just the will of the rank-and-file Republicans.
Meanwhile Operation Hilarity has made it into the press reports, but as Al Kamen notes, nothing can be more hilarious than Republicans themselves:
There seems to be a bit of confusion amongst Republicans about whether their critical Michigan primary on Feb. 28 is open to independents and Democrats.
A colleague called the Republican National Committee the other day and was told by a spokesman that it was closed.
Then a longtime state GOP official said that, no, it’s “semi-closed.” That means it’s pretty much open.
Here’s how it works: You walk into the polls and are asked to declare whether you want a Democratic ballot or a Republican ballot. You can pick either and then vote.
Just an observation: They make the rules for their own primaries. And caucuses
Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted that the state party made numerous clerical errors in counting the state’s caucus results — even omitting some votes because emails reporting tallies “went to spam” in an email account.
However, Webster insisted that the errors did not change the outcome.
If you can't trust them to run their own primaries, how can they expect people to trust them to to run the country?