Wednesday 16 January 2008

michigan! ponshewaing! cadillac!

I find it interesting that, although Iowa and New Hampshire were both headline news over here, the results of the Michigan Primary didn't make it onto the news at all this morning, at least not on BBC Radio Five Live. I had to go online to find out that Mitt Romney had salvaged his bid for the White House by beating John McCain into second place and taking something like 39% of the vote. This is interesting news indeed, even for an outsider like me because it means that there have now been three different Republican winners in three states: Huckabee in Iowa, McCain in New Hampshire and now Romney in Michigan. It really is anyone's guess who will win the Republican vote and stand for President at the end of the year.

So why the lack of coverage? I reckon it's because UK media is only interested in what they see as the more glamorous battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The present incumbent in the White House can't stand again (thank God) and none of the other major Republican candidates - with the possible exception of Giuliani, who isn't really kicking off his campaign until the Florida Primary at the very end of January - are especially well known to a British audience. Besides, when it comes to the USA, we only really deal in broad brushstrokes and the popular image painted here of a 'typical' Republican is of a right-wing, pro-life, anti-gay, anti-gun control, religious crackpot (which is more or less the way that Mike Huckabee is being painted), and as we British (in the face of all evidence to the contrary) still like to think of ourselves as liberal-minded free-thinkers, so we probably instinctively feel a closer kinship with the Democrats....

What of the Democrats themselves? Well they withdrew the right of Michigan to send delegates to its convention because the state party chose to hold their primary early. This rendered the Democratic poll in Michigan something of an irrelevancy and so it hasn't really made the news here, as we have no further updates on whether Clinton is in the driving seat or if the force is still with Obama. No exciting Democrat news, therefore very little broadcast media press coverage in the UK. What really hasn't been mentioned at all here, and may perhaps be more significant in the long run, is just how much damage this does to the chances of the Democrats winning the state in the Presidential election later this year. How would you feel as a Democrat if your right to have a say on who stands for president was taken away like this? Would you think about voting elsewhere as a result? How about for the Michigan native Mitt Romney? Or perhaps someone with strong appeal to independent voters like John McCain? Obama or Clinton or whoever ultimately wins the Democrat nomination may well find Michigan a tough nut to crack. Thinking of Florida's hanging chads in 2000, elections have certainly been decided on less....

Apologies if all this is old news to anyone reading this in the USA, but I'm genuinely interested in all of this, and I'm starting to pick up the slants that the UK media is putting on their coverage.

Back to ill-formed musical opinions and assorted other nonsense later on.


  1. Maybe you should alter your choice of radio station. You couldn't move for Romney on radio 4 this morning.

  2. yeah, but where's their sport coverage, eh?

  3. So far, from my living in the US impressions, the democratic campaigns have been boring. Everyone seems a bit too... buddy buddy.

    The Republicans are far more entertaining. They fight more, and crack funnier jokes.

  4. I think the Dems are intentionally being "buddy buddy," so as to not give the Republicans talking points to use against whoever eventually gets the nomination. Party unity isn't necessarily a bad thing...

    As for Michigan, I don't know how much the lack of delegates is going to affect the ultimate vote. Voter turnout at primaries is notoriously low, and those that do turn out usually are politically inclined. Since politics in the U.S. is so polarized right now, I'd wager that there aren't many Dems that will switch sides (although there may be some that just decide to stay home).

    For the record, I do somewhat support the Democratic party's action against Michigan. The race to have the earliest primary is getting ridiculous, and it needs to end. However, I think a better solution would be to have each state hold their primary on the same day.

  5. Party unity is one of the biggest problems in my view. It may be great for the team, but it robs the voters of individual viewpoints, and seeing how a future commander in chief will respond to a confrontation. Team mentality is destroying the voters a realistic view of their potential candidate.

    My views and beliefs generally fall with the Democrats, but I won't vote for any democrat who I think is going to be submissive or wishy washy, no matter how close to my beliefs are on paper. I want a president who is going to be similar to my views, and a strong leader. Playing team games won't show me that second part.

    Totally agree on the same day primary... or at least limiting the days to two or three cross country. The current set up makes things more of a chess game than an actual vote.

    (I love the way all my political arguments for the US election are taking place on blog in the UK)