Wednesday :: Sep 3, 2003

Democratic Primary Preview: Michigan, Washington, Maine


by CA Pol Junkie

by CA Pol Junkie

This is the fourth in a series of previews of the Democratic primaries. The previews will be in the order the states vote, up to March 2nd, by which time the eventual nominee will be evident. Previous previews: IA, NH; DE, MO, SC; AZ, NM, ND, OK

These caucuses are the weekend following the seven contests of February 3rd. Those contests will certainly start marginalizing candidates, for practical purposes narrowing the field to about 3. We don't know who will be running and who will be limping, though, so for this analysis let's assume all of them are still solidly in the running.

Michigan Caucus: 2/7/2004, 128 delegates
Past performance:
1984: Mondale 50%, Hart 32%, Jackson 17%
3/26/1988: Jackson 53.5%, Dukakis 29.0%, Gephardt 12.8%, Simon 2.1%, Gore 2.0%
3/17/1992: Clinton 50.7%, Brown 25.8%, Tsongas 16.6%, Uncommitted 4.8%, Harkin 1.1%, Kerrey 0.5%
Latest poll:
EPIC/MRA: Gephardt 19%, Lieberman 19%, Kerry 14%, Dean 13%, Edwards 6%
Future results based on history:
Gephardt, Dean, Lieberman

This will be a very exciting contest to watch. You would figure that Michigan is a big labor state, Gephardt is big with labor, and this is a caucus, so Gephardt ought to be cruising here. By this time in 1988, Gephardt's campaign was on life support after Super Tuesday and was looking to Michigan for a big comeback. Obviously, it didn't happen and Gephardt withdrew from the race after the results came in. Brown's strong showing bodes well for Dean, while the underwhelming results for Dukakis and Tsongas suggest third place may be far behind Gephardt and Dean. The strong showings by Jackson and Clinton are not just from African-Americans. Jackson included young people and affluent white liberals in his winning coalition. It takes a leap of faith to assume Gephardt will do much better this year than in 1988. This analysis assumes his campaign will be running strong up to this point in 2004, however, so he must take this state with all the advantages it offers him.

Washington (state) Caucus: 2/7/2004, 61 delegates
Past performance:
1984: ???
3/8/1988: Dukakis 44.0%, Jackson 34.6%, Simon 3.7%, Gore 2.4%, Gephardt 1.0%
3/3/1992: Tsongas 32.3%, Uncommitted 23.2%, Brown 18.6%, Clinton 12.6%, Harkin 8.2%, Kerrey 3.4%
Latest polls:
None.
Future results based on history:
Dean, Lieberman, Kerry

There aren't many states where Jackson's support was almost triple Clinton's. This will be a case study in the effect of having a caucus as opposed to a primary. 80% of Washington's delegates will be determined in this caucus, but 20% will come from the results of their primary on March 2nd. Previous results for Gephardt and Clinton show that Gephardt and Edwards are going to have a tough time here. The state's high tech economy is a relatively good sign for Lieberman, who can have appeal to the office park dad sector. Of course, there is also a very strong liberal element behind the caucus, exemplified by Jackson's performance. It will come down to the three New Englanders, and the caucus arrangment will work to Dean's advantage. Second place depends on who shows up at the caucus and how the liberal vote gets split, but Lieberman at least has his niche of the electorate all to himself.

Maine Caucus: 2/8/2004, 24 delegates
Past performance:
1984: ???
1988: Dukakis, Jackson
2/23/1992: Brown 30.3%, Tsongas 29.0%, Uncommitted 16.1%, Clinton 14.8%, Harkin 5.2%, Kerrey 3.0%
Latest polls:
None.
Future results based on history:
Dean, Kerry, Lieberman

Dean should take this one easily, based on geography, Brown's winning performance in 1992, and because it is a caucus. Like in Washington, past performance isn't a good sign for Gephardt or Edwards. Unlike Washington, Maine has a more traditional economy which will tend to favor Kerry over Lieberman.

Next week: D.C., Tennessee, Virginia

CA Pol Junkie :: 8:46 AM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!