Why is Michigan close?

By |
Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone

In 2008 Barack Obama carried Michigan 57%-42% and earlier this year he was expected to carry it again easily. The the General Motors and Chrysler bailout are one of the few economic-related issues on which Obama gets positive ratings, and the Obama campaign has been touting it nationally. His strategists must have hoped it would be his trump card.

But recent Michigan polling suggests otherwise. Mitchell Research, a Michigan firm, shows the presidential race at 47%-47%, and the Real Clear Politics average of recent Michigan polls shows Obama ahead by a statistically insignificant 47%-45%.

What gives? Well, former Michigan Republican Chairman Saul Anuzis says that among many Michigan voters the GM and Chrysler bailouts are seen as United Auto Workers bailouts. And of course the UAW got very favorable treatment from the Obama administration; even “car czar” Steven Rattner, whose wife was chief fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, has admitted that it was probably a mistake not to ask current UAW members to take any cut in pay or benefits. This may be lost on much of the Washington press, but not on Michigan voters, two-thirds of whom are not in union households.

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner