A version of this post also appeared at Michigan Liberal.
Michigan native and gimlet-eyed blogger Nate Silver asks what’s wrong with Obama in Michigan. It’s not a pretty picture, all the more because some of the reasons are clearly self-inflicted.
The campaign’s late start is a big reason. As he explains:
In conversations with friends and family during the Democratic primaries (I am originally from East Lansing), I did not sense much frustration with Obama in particular for his decision to withdraw his name from the state’s primary ballot after Michigan moved ahead of the DNC’s February 5 cut-off date and had its delegates revoked. But I did sense aggravation and dampened enthusiasm for the Democratic Party in general.
Of course, there’s a name for this: Mark Brewer. The diminished standing of the Democratic Party in Michigan can be laid at the doorstep of the botched primary, and that bungled constitutional proposal, Reform Michigan Government Now. Together, both have put the official party in something of a public relations hole. The disaster of the primary is further underscored by an observation many offered then, that the McCain team laid a solid Michigan reputation as a maverick, inoculating him from the national charge of “McSame.”
Silver goes on Governor Granholm’s diminished standing also hurts. Last year’s meltdown in the state house has eroded the sense of trust in state leadership. Sadly, the lack of leadership in the Kwame Kilpatrick affair let a sore in Michigan politics get dangerously close to gangrenous. If nothing else, her silence let West Michigan distance itself even further from Detroit and the east side generally; and it certainly has let the racism of the northern suburbs fester. (And of course, there is the small part of Michigan’s business image).
Silver also points to the relative moderation of the GOP congressional delegation — I wish. But that only shows how low the bar has been set in the present conservative era.
The Task Ahead.
The work ahead will involve more national face time in Detroit and especially Macomb County For those of us out-state, it certainly means greater attention to motivating all the potential voters in those hard-R districts. A tight race means that margins become incredibly important, so those precincts and districts Dems normally avoid, must now be challenged. The ground game is more important than ever.
In short, there’s a whole lot of work to be done, all the more since we now belong to one of those official “Swing States.” All I can say, is that if we are going to swing, we’d better not whiff.