New Hampshire (check).
Wave good bye again to the novelty of retail politics for another four years as the campaign shifts from the up close and personal politics of Iowa and New Hampshire to practicing new techniques in the lead up to the twenty-two state blitz on February 5.
Today that blitz begins with the voters in Michigan. Well, half of the partisans in the Great Lakes State will be participating in the state's 2008 presidential primary as the GOP candidates battle for another pre-Super Tuesday prize. On the Democratic side, national party sanctions have done well at keeping the candidates away. Most don't even appear on the ballot. During the period that the constitutionality of the distribution of primary voter rolls was being questioned, thus threatening the state's primary, efforts were made to change ballot access rules to prevent candidates from keeping their names off the ballot (Does this sound like democracy?). Stalling Democrats in the Michigan legislature prevented this measure from taking immediate effect meaning that only Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich appeared on the ballot. This fight and the broader one between the state and the national party set the groundwork for today's non-contest for no Democratic delegates in Michigan.
The major candidates on the Democratic side (and Dennis Kucinich who by court order won the right to appear, though MSNBC is appealing) are in Nevada gearing up for tonight's debate (live on MSNBC @ 9pm--I'll have a link for the online version when it is made available.) ahead of Saturday's caucus in the state.
Some Nevadans are irritated with the timing and others with location. Who doesn't want to caucus on Saturday morning in a casino?
The GOP seems content to fight it out in Michigan today and skip Nevada on Saturday in favor of the South Carolina caucus on the same day. Those who win South Carolina (since 1980 when the primary system hit the state) win the Republican nomination. Nevada's loss is South Carolina's gain.
First thing's first though: Michigan. Real Clear Politics' average of the six most recent Michigan polls has Romney with a slight edge over McCain (who won in there in 2000) with Huckabee running third about ten points back. So we may be witnessing something of a replay in New Hampshire at least as far as the major players are concerned. Should the results play out similarly, Romney will be on the ropes. However, should he win today's primary that jumbles this race even further making Giuliani's "wait until Florida and Super Tuesday" strategy look like pure genius. You can't discount luck in politics.
You may have heard that Obama and Clinton have been sparring over racial issues. I'm still trying to figure out if not having an event this week gives that story more steam. Neither side has appeared too positive which Edwards must be loving. He got a boost in Nevada early this week with some poll numbers that have him (27%), Obama (32) and Clinton (30) within five points of each other. This is the only poll from the state since December (see RCP). Interesting news heading toward the weekend contest there. Tonight's debate will certainly have some say in how things play out.
Finally, it looks like the presidential race has been fairly newsworthy so far. Last week during the New Hampshire primary, the race accounted for 49% of the news according to the Project of Excellence in Journalism. Sadly this blog wasn't a major part of that (Thank you very much SPSA conference.).
As always I'll be online tonight tracking the results and the debate if anyone is interested in discussing matters ahead of tomorrow's live discussion group meeting.