A Primary For Old Men

Tuesday Michigan held its presidential primaries, (the Michigan primaries for down ballot offices will be held in August). As anticipated the two old guys, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, won their respective primaries going away. At the presidential level this has been a primary by and for old men. I’ll expand on that below including a “personalization”.

I’m into my eight decade and last year of political writing. I exited organized party politics several years back. Normally I would have spent a night like Tuesday glued to TV and computer screens. Then I would have scrambled to beat my deadline and post an article. This time around I watched whatever my wife decided to watch on TV and sipped a cup of tea. Well, to be perfectly honest, several cups of tea.

In every previous presidential primary years I watch every debate of either party. This year I have not watched a single one. The Democrats, since incumbent Joe Biden is running sans any serious rival, didn’t have any debates. On the Republican side, clear frontrunner Donald Trump (a/k/a Cadet Bone Spurs) dodged every debate like it was the Vietnam era military draft. The result was a series of debates among people who had no chance of being the GOP candidate so why would I waste my time watching, much less writing about, them?

The one takeaway from Michigan where both old guys won in landslides was the uncommitted vote on the Democratic side. At this writing, other than a cause for concern, I’m not sure what to make of it. Over 100,000 voters that voted in the Democratic primary cast a ballot choosing uncommitted. Primary voters are usually the most reliable base voters either party has. Michigan is a battleground state that Biden can’t afford to lose 100,000 votes in. I’m not saying those people will vote for Trump; extremely few, if any, of them will. The risk is that they stay home or don’t cast a vote for president in November.

This gave the Biden campaign notice that they have some work to do in Michigan between now and Election Day. The main reason for the protest vote is the administration’s policy in Gaza. An in-depth discussion of that is the subject for another article(s) – most likely the plural. However, if it didn’t already, the Biden campaign now realizes that it has a problem in Michigan and I have every confidence it is already working on repairing it, at least as much as possible.

Another factor at play in Michigan is that an open Senate seat, currently held by a Democrat, is on the ballot too. The Democratic candidate will need those 100,000 votes. No shows are not votes and expecting someone to leave the top race blank but vote for you down ballot is a risky proposition. If the Democrats are to hold the Senate, they will definitely need to hold Michigan.

I’m hoping that Tuesday’s uncommitted vote was largely a protest vote in what was a throwaway contest. My hope is that when the whole enchilada is on the line in November the 100,000 will make the binary choice and vote for Biden even if they have to hold their noses a bit while doing it. Michigan is a state I’ll be watching the returns in on Election Night and possibly beyond. It will be close.

This is my last presidential primary as any kind of scribe so I guess I should be a thankful old man for the boring “early innings”.

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