Dissing Michigan: Did The Democrats Screw Up?

Those Democrats who removed their names from the Michigan Primary ballot sure angered a lot of important people, but did they do irreparable harm to the party's interests in the state?

The jury's ... hung.

1. Michigan's economy being what it is, the state is sometimes shielded from national crosswinds. If Granholm's tax hike proves unpopular, Dems could have a tougher-than-expect time in '08 and the GOP base in Michigan (alone) could be energized. But -- the crosswinds kept Granholm in office in 2006, the UAW is still the state's most powerful political force, the state is still probably more blue than red, and only certain Republican candidates have a plausible shot here.

2. Are state Dem activists likely to punish the Democratic nominee if he is among the opter-outers? Unclear. Would their level of activity be diminished? Would the Democratic coordinated campaign here be riven by internal disputes?

3. Is Michigan completely discounted in the primaries? I asked the executive producer of an influential television program last night whether he'd cover the delegate-less Democratic primary like the half-delegate-less Republican primary. No, he said. The GOP primary was real; the Dem primary wasn't. The answer to question three can be found in the degree to which other media gatekeepers believe this particular executive producer.

4. Will Iowans punish Hillary Clinton (and Chris Dodd) for remaining on the ballot? Probably not -- they're mercurial, generally, but tend to care about more important things.

5. Will this redouble the efforts of Debbie Dingell, Carl Levin and others to crush Iowa and New Hampshire once and for all when the DNC begins to think about the 2012 cycle? Yes indeed.

6. Will Hillary Clinton get important national endorsements because of the sleight to Michigan? Maybe the UAW's.

7. Will the winner of Iowa and New Hampshire (and Nevada, assuming that it goes on the 12th of January), exert an influence on how the media covers Michigan? Yes.