The Fix: Michigan

John Dingell: By the numbers

John Dingell: By the numbers

On Friday, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) became the longest-serving member of Congress ever, eclipsing the late senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).

To put Dingell's tenure in perspective, here are a few numbers that tell the story:

57, 176: The number of years and days, respectively, that Dingell has served in Congress — all of it in the House

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The GOP's big electoral vote gambit, explained

The GOP's big electoral vote gambit, explained

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus voiced support over the weekend for an effort to reform how some states award their electoral votes.

And the effect of the movement should not be underestimated.

Below, we take you through the particulars of the effort, what it would mean, and why it will or won't happen.

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'The Daily Show' rap about the Michigan right-to-work battle (VIDEO)

After reviewing some of the chants labor protesters have used in Lansing this week, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart decided he could do better. So he put together his own "8 Mile"-style rap on "The Daily Show" Tuesday night.

"Knees weak, arms heavy, working all day in a factory building Chevys. Like the Volt. You plug it in. Then you win. Ecologically, because if it was an actual race, you would not, actually," rapped Stewart.

Check out the rap, which appears beginning at at the 5 minute mark below.

Michigan would be first blue 'Right to Work' state

Michigan would be first blue 'Right to Work' state

If Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signs his state's new "Right to Work" legislation, Michigan would become the first blue state in the country to embrace such a law.

And it might be the last -- at least for a while.

Below is a look at the 23 states that currently have "Right to Work" laws on the books, along with some other states -- mostly in the Northeast -- where such laws have been proposed this year.

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The almost-competitiveness of Arizona and Pennsylvania

The almost-competitiveness of Arizona and Pennsylvania

We’re getting to that point in the presidential campaign when we start second-guessing ourselves about which swing states are, well, swing states.

Just this week, Democrats have started whispering (again) that they might try to expand the map by pursuing red-leaning Arizona, and Mitt Romney said Friday that he expects to win in a blue-leaning state, Pennsylvania.

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Rep. Todd Akin wins primary to face McCaskill in Missouri

Rep. Todd Akin won the Republican nomination to face Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Tuesday, emerging from a tight three-way race to face the most vulnerable senator in the country.

Results Tuesday night showed Akin leading the pack at 36 percent with 74 percent of precincts in. Businessman John Brunner followed at 30 percent, and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman was at 29 percent. The AP has called the race for Akin.

Akin will now face McCaskill, who Republicans see as ripe for defeat in an increasingly conservative state, and whose seat they are counting on to help them win the majority.

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Thaddeus McCotter unexpectedly resigns from Congress

Michigan Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter resigned from Congress on Friday, a surprise decision that caps among the most madcap two-month periods in modern politics.

The Michigan Republican and 2012 presidential candidate announced his decision in a lengthy and characteristically verbose statement citing his desire to shift his focus to his family now that his congressional career is over. (He also quoted Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”.)

“After nearly 26 years in elected office, this past nightmarish month and a half have, for the first time, severed the necessary harmony between the needs of my constituency and of my family,” McCotter said on his Facebook page. “As this harmony is required to serve, its absence requires I leave.”
Former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on September 12, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Polls: Tight races in North Carolina and New Hampshire; Michigan emerging as GOP target

President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in tight races in three key states — Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina — according to new polling from NBC News and Marist College.

The three state-specific polls show Obama and Romney tied at 45 percent in New Hampshire, with Obama holding a small lead in the other two states. He leads 47 percent to 43 percent in Michigan and 46 percent to 44 percent in North Carolina.

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Pete Hoekstra and the slippery slope of birtherism

Michigan GOP Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra is proposing a new panel to verify the citizenship of federal political candidates, but he’s facing some tough sledding.

The former congressman, whose proposal for what’s already been dubbed a “birther panel” came to light Wednesday, went on CNN this afternoon to talk about the idea.

It didn’t go well.

Hoekstra, despite saying he believes in the legitimacy of Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate, found himself in a combative interview in much the same way Donald Trump did the day before.

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Thad McCotter’s problems mount

The Michigan attorney general’s office is preparing to look into potential election fraud within Michigan Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s campaign after large numbers of the signatures turned in by the campaign were ruled invalid.

“We will review information provided by the Secretary of State and determine whether additional action is warranted,” said a Joy Yearout, a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

McCotter, who briefly waged a long shot bid for the GOP presidential nomination last year, has failed to qualify for the ballot and announced Tuesday that he will wage a write-in campaign in the primary.
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on September 12, 2011, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Santorum campaign claims a tie in Michigan

Rick Santorum’s campaign is declaring the Michigan primary to be a tie — pointing out that it looks like each candidate will win 15 of the state’s 30 delegates.

While there has been no final determination of who won how many delegates in Michigan on Tuesday, current results suggest both candidates won seven of the state’s 14 congressional districts, each of which award two delegates to the winner. In addition, Santorum adviser John Brabender said the state’s two at-large delegates are likely to be split between Romney and Santorum because the vote was so close.


Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. senator Rick Santorum holds up a piece of oil-rich shale rock as he speaks with supporters at an election night rally on Feb. 28, 2012 in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Joe Raedle — Getty Images)

“It’s highly likely this is going to end up being a tie, based on the data that we have,” Brabender said. “I don’t know how you look at that as anything besides this being a strong showing for Rick Santorum and anything short of a disaster for Mitt Romney.

“If we can do this well in Romney’s home state, this bodes well for Super Tuesday.”

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Despite victory, Romney may split Michigan’s delegates with Santorum

Mitt Romney won the popular vote in Michigan on Tuesday, but it’s still possible that Rick Santorum will win just as many delegates.

Given the close nature of the contest and the fact that almost all of the state’s delegates will be awarded by congressional district, there is still some uncertainty about whether Romney will also take home more delegates.

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‘Operation Hilarity’ fizzles

Rick Santorum’s effort to woo Democratic voters in Michigan failed.

While there was much hype about Democrats voting for Santorum as results began to trickle in early Tuesday night — in large part thanks to some helpful nudging from big-name Democrats in the days leading up to Tuesday’s primary — a closer look at the numbers show it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

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Memo to Republicans: Ignore Ron Paul at your peril

Memo to Republicans: Ignore Ron Paul at your peril

Ron Paul isn’t a major factor in either the Arizona or Michigan primaries tonight — he gave his “victory” speech before the polls in either state closed — but a look inside the exit polling in the Wolverine State makes clear why the Texas Congressman remains a relevant factor in the presidential race.

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Is ‘Operation Hilarity’ working?

Is ‘Operation Hilarity’ working?

Nine percent of voters in the Michigan Republican presidential primary identified themselves as Democrats, according to exit polling, the largest portion of the electorate the rival party has comprised to date in the GOP nomination fight.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is winning self identified Michigan Democrats by a three to one margin over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, numbers that suggest that the efforts by Santorum and the Democratic party in the state — talk about an odd couple! — is actually working.

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Mitt Romney’s spending edge has shrunk a bit

Mitt Romney’s spending edge has shrunk a bit

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum frequently says that money doesn’t guarantee victory.

That claim will be put to the test Tuesday night in Michigan, where former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and his allies have outspent Santorum and his supporters $3.8 million to $2.2 million on television ads.

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Michigan, Arizona primaries: The Fix Prediction Contest!

Voters are voting! Michigan and Arizona hold their presidential primaries today, the tenth and eleventh states to do so in the Republican presidential race this year.


ROYAL OAK, MI - FEBRUARY 27: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) greets musician Kid Rock during a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theatre on February 27, 2012 in Royal Oak, Michigan. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Don’t live in Arizona or Michigan but still want to have some skin in the game? Welcome to our Fix Prediction Contest — where you pick the winners and, if you’re right, get an official Fix t-shirt. It’s like gambling but with t-shirts.

In the comments section below, predict the order of finish — with percentages! — for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in Michigan and Arizona. As a tiebreaker, offer your prediction for total turnout in Michigan.

Most polls close in Michigan at 8 p.m. eastern time so any predictions made after that time won’t be considered. And you must — let me emphasize must — offer your prediction in the comments section below to be eligible. Predictions sent via email, Twitter and Facebook will not count.

Predict away!

The Michigan primary: Five counties to watch

The Michigan primary: Five counties to watch

Voters in Michigan head to the polls today, carrying the fate of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s presidential bid in their hands. Win Michigan and, as expected, Arizona, and Romney almost certainly reasserts himself as the clear frontrunner in the Republican race. Lose Michigan and the calls for Romney to reconsider his candidacy will begin. It’s that simple.

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Why the Michigan primary means momentum for Mitt Romney

Why the Michigan primary means momentum for Mitt Romney

Conventional wisdom heading into today’s Michigan presidential primary is that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will win the Wolverine State. After all, his father was the governor of the state, he was born there, and Romney and his aligned super PAC have drastically outspent former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in Michigan.

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Rick Santorum seeks Democratic support in Michigan robocalls

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign is actively seeking the support of Democrats in Tuesday’s Michigan primary, running a robocall that sounds oddly like one that would be run by an organized labor group.

“Michigan Democrats can vote in the Republican primary on Tuesday,” the narrator says in a copy of the automated call to Democratic voters that was initially obtained by Talking Points Memo. “Why is it so important? (Mitt) Romney supported the bailout for his Wall Street billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailout. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker. And we’re not going to let Romney get away with it.”

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Could crossover voters play spoiler in Michigan?

If Rick Santorum can pull out a narrow victory in Tuesday’s Michigan primary, he might have Democrats to thank.

Or at least, that’s how the theory goes.

For weeks now, political observers and politicians have been whispering about the impact Democrats could have on the state’s GOP primary, with the idea being that they would vote for Santorum in a concerted and deliberate effort to prevent Mitt Romney from winning — and prolonging the Republican presidential race in the process.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney does an interview with the Motor Racing Network during his appearance at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 54th Daytona 500 race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, on Sunday. (REUTERS/Joe Skipper)

It even has a name: Operation Hilarity.

But the likelihood that they will actually tip the scales against Romney is pretty small, for a host of reasons.

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Momentum favors Romney in up-for-grabs Michigan

There has been a lot of drama in the Republican presidential contest — especially for a campaign with no competitive primaries.

Iowa’s caucuses kept us all up into the wee hours of the morning, only to find out two weeks later that Mitt Romney’s supposed eight-vote win was actually a loss.
Days before a pivotal primary, Mitt Romney highlighted his economic plan in what was billed as a major campaign speech delivered at a cavernous and largely empty football stadium in Detroit. (AP)

But since then, every primary has been decided by double digits, while the only close races were less-important caucuses in Colorado and Maine.

Enter: Michigan

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Arizona Republican debate: Winners and losers

Through the first four contests in the GOP presidential race, there were more than 20 debates. For the next 14 contests (at least), there will be only one debate.

That debate was held Wednesday night in Arizona, and its impact on the GOP presidential race will become clear in the days ahead.

Here’s our snapshot of the debate, presented as usual in the form of winners and losers:

WINNERS

* Ron Paul: Who knew the Texas congressman was such an attack dog? While we’ve seen flashes of it in previous debates, he really went after Rick Santorum on Wednesday and got himself plenty of camera time in the process.

The takeaway if you were seeing Paul for the first time: ‘I’m not a politician like these guys. I’m principled.’ He used Santorum as a counter-balance in that effort, and it worked.

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Arizona Republican debate: What to watch for

It’s the last debate before Super Tuesday and perhaps the last debate of the 2012 GOP presidential race.

And there’s a lot at stake. A whole lot.

We’ll be doing a blow-by-blow live blog of the debate starting after 7 p.m. Eastern time (the debate starts at 8 p.m. on CNN).
Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney greet each other at the start of a debate sponsored by CNN at the University North Florida on Jan. 26, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida. Tonight’s debate is the first since then. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

For now, though, here are some storylines to watch:

* Rick Santorum, center stage

Santorum emerged as a frontrunner more than two weeks ago. This is the first debate since then, which means that, for the first time in this entire presidential race, Santorum will no longer be a bit player on the debate stage.

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Michigan Democratic Party encourages crossover voting in GOP presidential primary

Operation Chaos in Michigan? Again?

The Michigan Democratic Party sent an e-mail to supporters Wednesday encouraging them to take part in the state’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday.

The e-mail points to a YouTube video of two Republican state senators encouraging Democrats to vote and notes that voters can still return to voting in the Democratic caucuses two months from now.

“Any Democrat who takes Senators Jones and Meekhof up on their offer will still be able to participate in the Michigan Democratic Party’s presidential caucuses on May 5, 2012,” Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said in the brief missive. “If Democratic crossover votes affect the results of the GOP presidential primary next Tuesday, the Republicans will only have themselves to blame.”

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New poll shows Mitt Romney safe in Arizona, tied in Michigan

Mitt Romney may not be in much trouble in Arizona after all, according to a new poll from NBC News and Marist College, but he’s still got a dogfight in Michigan.

The new NBC/Marist polls in both of the states holding primaries on Feb. 28 show Romney leading Rick Santorum 43 percent to 27 percent in Arizona and 37 percent to 35 percent in Michigan — a margin that falls within the margin of error.

The new polls paint a much brighter picture for Romney than previous polling.

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All four GOP candidates face rare prospect of a home-state loss

If you’re a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, home might not feel so welcoming these days.

It’s possible that all four remaining GOP candidates could lose a state that they call home — a prospect Newt Gingrich noted in an interview over the weekend.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney could lose the primary in Michigan, the state where he was born and reared and where his father was governor. But he might not be the only GOP candidate to lose a home state. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

And even if only one or two actually do, it would be a pretty rare feat.

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Newt Gingrich’s risky Super Tuesday strategy

Newt Gingrich is handing Rick Santorum a golden opportunity to prove himself as the true anti-Romney conservative before Super Tuesday.

So far, the former House speaker’s campaign has shown little inclination to play in the three states that will hold their contests before March 6, a risky strategy that could pretty easily backfire.

That may be changing — Gingrich has hired some staff in Washington and is now pledging to visit Michigan — but his campaign is a little late to the game, which could play into Santorum’s hands.

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Mitt Romney’s working class problem

Mitt Romney’s problems with conservatives and evangelical voters are well-established, but he’s also got a significant — if less readily apparent — issue with less-affluent voters.

And it’s a problem that could matter quite a bit in the next few weeks.

Rick Santorum is aiming for the upset of the 2012 presidential race in two weeks in Michigan, and if he can pull it off, everyone will be talking about how Romney can’t win over blue-collar voters.

A more precise statement may be that Romney has trouble with voters who are less well-off. But that’s really nothing new.

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to endorse Romney

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will endorse Mitt Romney for president at a luncheon on Thursday, according to two sources with knowledge of his decision.

MIRS news reported Wednesday evening that the two men will appear together at a luncheon Thursday for a “major announcement.”

A source confirmed that Snyder will be endorsing the former Massachusetts governor, who is the early favorite in the Michigan Republican primary but may face a tough race against former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

Snyder is in his first term. He won an open seat race in a landslide in 2010 but has encountered some tough early sledding, and his approval rating has suffered some because of it.

Update: Snyder made his an endorsement official in a Detroit News editorial published Thursday.

“Mitt understands the challenges confronting Michigan as few Americans do,” Snyder wrote. “I hope all Michiganians will join me in supporting the candidacy of this favorite son of our great state.”

Star of controversial Hoekstra ad apologizes

A woman claiming to be the star of a controversial Super Bowl ad run by former congressman Pete Hoekstra’s (R-Mich.) Senate campaign has apologized for playing a role that some have said preys on Asian stereotypes.

“I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities,” the actress, Lisa Chan, wrote on her Facebook page. “As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.”

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Santorum ad targets Romney’s ‘mud’ in Michigan

Rick Santorum’s campaign is up with a new ad in Michigan going negative on Mitt Romney and accusing him of “firing mud at” Santorum.

The ad, titled “Rombo,” features a Romney lookalike roving around an empty building wielding a gun that fires mud-filled paint balls. It accuses Romney and his supporters of running a multimillion-dollar negative campaign.

At the same time, the ad takes a few swipes of its own at the former Massachusetts governor — notably on health care and climate change.

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