1 days until the Michigan primary
5 days until the Nevada caucuses
|POLLS OPEN:||7:00 AM ET|
|POLLS CLOSE:||9:00 PM ET|
At the Republican debate last Thursday, John McCain's and Mitt Romney's first answers were targeted to voters in Michigan – McCain putting out what he said was straight talk on jobs and the economy and Romney painting a rosier picture about the Michigan's economic future.
Interestingly, Thursday's debate was in South Carolina – but that exchange right out of the gate showed how critical the next-up Michigan primary is for the native son Romney and a resurgent and re-energized McCain.
Since New Hampshire, all other issues have taken a back seat as the candidates focus on what they would to fix the struggling Michigan economy
Romney can claim somewhat of a home field advantage, but that just raises the stakes for his campaign Tuesday. Romney was born in the state, his father served as governor from 1963-1969 and he announced his candidacy in Dearborn last year.
Despite the punditry and his 1-2 record in this nomination process so far, Romney is not looking at the Great Lake State as his last stand.
"I'd like to win Michigan," he told ABC News' Cynthia McFadden in an interview that will air on Nightline tonight at 11:35pm ET. "I plan on winning Michigan, but I sure don't have to win Michigan."
A win in Michigan may give Romney much-needed momentum to get his campaign back on course heading into South Carolina and Super Duper Tuesday on Feb 5. A loss, however, to McCain (the Republican winner in 2000) or Huckabee might be a knockout blow.
On the Democratic side, the race is far less meaningful – Barack Obama and John Edwards will not even appear on the ballot. The two candidates did so to honor DNC rules forbidding non-approved states from holding contests before Feb 5.
Democratic voters will have six choices on the ballot - Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, uncommitted and write-in. An "uncommitted" selection is a vote to send delegates to the Democratic National Convention who are not committed or pledged to any candidate, freeing up delegates to choose whomever they'd like at the Convention. Write-in candidates will not be counted under state law, so Obama, Edwards, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson supporters are urged to vote "uncommitted".
(No Monty Brewster/"None of the Above" campaign – that won't win you delegates).
The DNC has stripped Michigan of 100% of its delegates so the results will have no impact on the overall battle for the 2025 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination.
Michigan has an open primary – so Democrats can (and likely will) switch over and vote in the Republican primary. This may help McCain and is something that Romney acknowledged to Nightline's McFadden today in Detroit.
"There's no question in my mind that in a normal primary setting, I'm going to win Michigan," he said. "I have to have a little doubt because there's no Democratic primary going on. If it's a straight up primary, I win."
The Michigan Department of State will post unofficial results as counties report their totals on Tuesday.
On the campaign trail…
-- 8:30 am ET: Holds rally with voters, Traverse City, MI
-- 9:30 am ET: Holds media availability, Traverse City, MI