It’s The Economy, Stupid

A sign hanging in the Clinton campaign headquarters read, “The economy, stupid.”  No, not the campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton; it hung in the campaign headquarters of Bill Clinton.  Those words penned by Clinton campaign strategist James Carville led Bill Clinton on to victory in 1992 and rang true again last night for Mitt Romney who is enjoying a big victory in yesterday’s Michigan primary. 

In 1913, Henry Ford opened his first automotive plant in Highland Park, Michigan, changing the fate of a state forever.  The manufacturing of automobiles became the major industry of Michigan and at the same time altered the American way of life for perpetuity.  To this day, the auto industry remains important to the citizens of Michigan and as the economy goes so goes the auto industry.  This and the fact the state has lost nearly 80,000 jobs in the past year are the likely reasons 55 percent of Michigan primary voters cited the economy as their top concern.     

With 99 percent of precincts reporting Governor Romney enjoys 39 percent of the vote followed by Senator McCain with 30 percent, Governor Huckabee with 16 percent, Congressman Paul with 6 percent, Senator Thompson with 4 percent and Mayor Giuliani with 3 percent. 

With his win tonight, in what was billed by many pundits as a must-win, Romney catapults himself back into the thick of what has become a muddled Republican primary season.  McCain’s finish in Michigan, a state he won in 2000, was disappointing, but not catastrophic to his chances.  For Huckabee, chalk up another “moral” victory – probably the last of the “moral” victories his candidacy can sustain as the election season moves into the South.   

What is next?  In a campaign season with lots of questions, but few answers, it would only seem fitting that Thompson will pick up his first win in South Carolina followed by Giuliani enjoying his first win in Florida.  Here are a few possibilities that might happen: 

1.      On Saturday both Huckabee and Thompson need a win in South Carolina.  A loss by either of these candidates may reveal the door at the end of the road for their campaigns.  It is unlikely that a finish lower than second can do anything but signal trouble for either of these candidates.  At the same time, a win for either of these candidates will cement their status as a top-tier candidate heading into Florida and Super Tuesday.    

2.      McCain must learn from Michigan that he must go beyond National Security when on the stump as he moves forward.  That being said, South Carolina is certainly a state where McCain’s National Security story is compelling and could propel him to a big South Carolina victory. 

3.      With last nights must-win win for Romney he has essentially been granted a bye in South Carolina and need not finish any better than third to move into Florida and Super Tuesday on a high note.  Anything above third would be a strong finish for Romney and signal that he can compete in the South. 

4.      Look for Romney to finish strong in Saturday’s other contest in Nevada. 

5.      Florida remains a must win for Giuliani. 

The only certainty on the horizon is that the next three weeks are going to be very interesting for conservatives and the Republican candidates.  Stay tuned!        


5 Responses to “It’s The Economy, Stupid”

  1. January 16, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Agreed, a good post if I were a conservative. That said, Michigan’s woes are far beyond National Security, Unions, Jennifer Granholm, Andy Dillon, and an F’d up unemployment/outsourcing system that George sr. and William Clinton put in place. I am here, and it is a complacency of dumbed down voters. At the bar tonight, a few friends of mine asked a random woman who the current VP was? Her response? “Al Gore?”. Michigan has a dysfunctional party, and an arrogant party. The state needs brains,hope,and backbone. If not, then Michigan evidently is ok with it’s woes. Cheers.

  2. 3 WB
    January 16, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    A win for Thompson in South Carolina would be huge and lead, probably, to a brokered convention, agreed? Not really sure that’s a bad thing for the Republicans. The debate thus far has been an idiological one on the right, for the soul of the party. The debate on the left, if you can call it a debate, seems more about personality since there doesn’t seem to be a lick of difference between the candidates. It’s more “who do you want to be the person expanding government to European levels?”
    Am I wrong? Phil? Ghost?

  3. 4 philabuster
    January 16, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    WB –

    I agree that a win for Thompson in South Carolina would be a huge boost for his campaign, but I’m not sure that that is the only domino that would have to fall for a brokered convention to occur. I don’t think we will truly understand the chances of a brokered convention until we have the results from the Super Tuesday races.

    I think your assessment about the two parties is right. On the Republican side there are definitely differences among the candidates on important issues like immigration, taxes, life and campaign finance. On the Democratic side we have seen the lack of substantive issue differences among the candidates lead to a debate that turned south and focused on personality and race over the past week.

  4. January 16, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    The problem is on the Democratic side is the early thinning of the herd. With the top 3 you regurgitated messages of “change”. The episodes of race and gender are getting as tired as Rudy’s “I can’t make it through a sentence without saying “9/11”. Fred Thompson barely can stay awake, and Mutt Romney’s flip-flopping is as pathetic as John Edwards haircuts. I know some of you would anticipate a more rabid response from me, and I wish I had one. What we liberals and conservatives are stuck with from here on out is a field of “wannabes”, who don’t represent any of us. Republicans are scrambling to see who has the biggest fear card or the better bible. Democrats are sparring over who’s more likable, who’s the real woman, or the real black man, or the real fighter, and who has a right to debate. It all is so rigged.

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