Michigan Polls: Obama Will Win By Slim Margin, But With Huge Drop Off From 2008
Let me start from a non-political place.
On Thursday evening, I was at my church for choir practice. Funny thing about me, I can't sing well anywhere but church. Maybe it's the roaring organ or the high, echoey ceilings, but church is the only place my voice is anything close to lovely. This is not just a "feeling" about myself, it is an empirical fact.
Just like this is an empirical fact:
source: Detroit Free Press
The Free Press calls Obama's lead "widening." I call it absymal for the "America's sweetheart" president. Obama is up in the swing state of Michigan, but only by the narrowest of margins compared to the 2008 election results. Why? In a state that swung such a deep shade of blue in '08, and has repeatedly elected Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow to the Senate, Obama should be cleaning house.
So I repeat, why is Obama polling so poorly, relative to last election?
A large piece of it goes to the nationwide trend of Obama's core supporters, 18-24 year-olds, not coming back to the polls in droves.
In Michigan, much of it has to do with local politics. Millionaire-turned-Republican-Governor Rick Synder has ingratied himself to the unlikely urban demographic. He has worked to bring economic recovery in Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids into center focus, and to reasonable success.
A slimmer margin of it has to do with identity. Michigan has a Romney in its history, and one, no less many, Michiganians remember this fondly. You may have also noticed the Pure Michigan ads or swag like this floating around:
Like anyone else, we like to be winners, and the thought of having a president-elect born and raised in the state is a good trophy.
But Here's the Bottom Line: Despite Obama's low performance, Romney will lose the state. And its because of a political force displayed in this video which Romney can't master.
In the "ad," a local hip-hop artist has put together a rap supporting Saginaw, MI state representative incumbernt, Stacy Erwin Oakes. The ad goes on to cite reasons to vote for both Oakes AND Obama. It goes on to say that "Romney gets in, everybody hit/He don't really care, he just cares if you're rich."
Let me be clear, it's not about race. It's about relating to people; it's about being the kind of candidate that people feel comes from a genuine place. It's that kind of personality that catches on like wildfire with the public, no ad buys necessary.
You can criticize the Erwin Oakes ad in anyway you like. Maybe you think it sets a demographic back 10 years or more. Maybe you just think its dumb. (Frankly, I think its catchy.)
But because of the kind of attitude displayed in the ad, Romney will lose Michigan. He has been criticized repeatedly for being statuesque. Unfortuantely for Romney, it's more than that: Obama is to the American public as church choir is to my voice.
Obama effectively creates a space where people feel like they can be themselves and talk about politics. (As for me, I'll just be myself and sing. But that's really neither here nor there.)
And that's why Romney will lose the state of Michigan.