Perhaps wolverines do hibernate after all. Reports out of Michigan today suggest people didn’t feel like plowing through inches of snow to vote in a primary that doesn’t matter for Democrats and sort of matters for Republicans (mainly if Romney loses). So, with two and a half hours to go before the returns come in, it’s worth a quick look at who wins and who loses because of the 20 percent turnout that’s expected.
Democrats: If the Democratic National Committee is smart, it will harp on the low turnout numbers. They can spin the lack of interest in Michigan and say it proves that the record activity we saw in New Hampshire and Iowa was really due to the excitement around the Democratic race. In reality, the snow was probably just as big of a factor, but you can’t freeze spin.
Mitt Romney: Bear with my series assumptions: If there are fewer voters, that means the exit polls encompass more of the sample. That means the exit polls are probably going to be more accurate. That means that the early pro-Romney reports —heavy Republican presence at the Republican primary, and the economy is most important—are likely to hold true. Also, older voters are usually more reliable than younger voters, which means that low turnout could encompass a lot of seniors who still know Papa Romney, former governor of Michigan.
Carl Levin: Levin’s boneheaded plan to make Michigan matter in the electoral cycle by moving its primary earlier blew up in his face once the Democrats pulled out. Today’s low turnout is only a nasty reminder of how ill-fated his ploy was from the get-go.
The loser: Whoever loses the primary—Romney or McCain—won’t be able to blame the result on low turnout. Unused ballots mean that all candidates failed to motivate their supporters enough to go out and vote for them come frozen hell or high water. But the winner won’t have to worry about this—a win is a win. Only the loser will have to explain why he couldn’t beat Mother Nature.