Trends vs. Last Minute Surges

By the end of the day, we should have yet another state done and over with in the Republican primary contest, so it’s time to put on the predicting cap and give it a quick go.

At this point, the main question is do we follow the polling trends, or do we follow the last minute surges?  Tricky, very tricky.  Thus far, sticking with the trends proved to be the wise choice on either side of the aisle, most specifically however in the fated New Hampshire race where too many political pundits leant credence to last minute polling data that was wildly out of line with previous trending data.

But when we look at the trend for Michigan, we see something interesting.  Yes the trend would seem to favor Romney, but there is plenty of data, including the most recent polls, which indicate that McCain is poised to buck the trend.  Further, as the article linked above points out, the economy is currently the leading issues among voters.  Now if you’re a finance guy, then Romney is your candidate, but if you’re living in a blue collar area as Michigan is somewhat known to be, than, to paraphrase the Huckabee quip, Romney looks like the guy who might have laid you off, not the guy who’s trying to help you get a job.

This all points to a possible McCain victory despite the actual trends, and there’s more.

Kossacks aside, let’s not forget that Democrats are pretty much sitting this one out, which means there’s a whole lotta people that get to be a Gopper for a day.  One thing polling data is pretty consistent upon and I think gets right is that independents and Democrats are much more friendly to McCain than Romney.  Romney may lead among Republicans by about ten points, but among those in the middle of the road and across the aisle, McCain has a clear advantage.

Thus the first part of the prediction is simply this.  If voter turnout, particularly among non-Republicans, is low, than it’s going to go to Mitt.  If tons of people show up though, Mitt can probably start preparing his concession speech and start working on what’s next.

Now, I don’t know what the projected turnout is going to be, so I can’t really speak much more in that direction, but I think overall McCain is looking good for Michigan.  He’s making a huge come back and is surging just about everywhere, I think he’s viewed much more favorably by the middle class, and I don’t think his big downfall, immigration, is going to play as significantly in Michigan as it might elsewhere (though, one would have to know how auto workers feel about illegal immigrants and how significantly the topic is on their radar to be sure).

In the end, you shouldn’t be surprised if either Mitt or McCain walk away with it, and I think it’s going to be tight, possibly within five points.  Things that should come as a shocker are if Huck wins by any margin, or if Mitt or McCain manage a lead that even approaches ten points.

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