MICHIGAN — There is fascinating political dynamic going in Michigan: It's a state that Al Gore won in 2000, and is one of the few places where the president did not get a post-convention bounce. John Kerry is spending virtually no time or money here, while George Bush is running hard.
In a state where no Republican has won since the first President Bush, and where the governor and both senators are Democrats, why is George Bush spending so much time in Michigan?
“This is going to be an incredibly tight race, and I think people are looking at the margins,” says Rep. Candice Miller.
On the economy
It’s arguably an uphill fight for the president, starting with the economy. “The so-called 'recovery' is perhaps somewhat of a recovery on Wall street, but not on Main Street. Not in Michigan yet,” says Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat.
Michigan has lost more than 300,000 jobs in the past four years. In Greenville (population 8,000) 2,700 more jobs will disappear when an Electrolux refrigerator plant moves to Mexico next year.
Republican Mayor Lloyd Walker is seriously considering not voting Republican for president for the first time in his life.
But the Bush-Cheney campaign points to DuroLast Roofing in Saginaw as an example of new jobs in a new economy.
Another challenge for the president includes healthcare and an aging Michigan population. For expample, every three months, a busload of senior citizens travel from the town of Howell to Canada to buy prescription drugs. “On average they can get a three-month supply for what they would pay for a one-month supply here in the states,” claims Mark Swanson of the Howell Senior Center.
President Bush is against drugs imported from Canada, while John Kerry is a big supporter of opening the border.
War against Iraq and terror
On the war in Iraq and the war on terror, a key vote will be Arab-Americans, who voted overwhelmingly for Bush in 2000.
In 2004, Kerry canvassers are getting a friendly reception. New polls show support for Kerry at 76 percent. “Many people are disenchanted, they believe they were betrayed by the Bush administration,” says Osama Sablami, an Arab-American newspaper editor.
But here, too, the Bush campaign won’t concede. “Even the people who were so angry about the middle east situation, Arab-Israeli or Iraq, or domestic, they feel that John Kerry doesn’t offer anything of value to them,” says Dr. Basha.
So how close could Michigan be on November 2nd?
Pollster Ed Sarpolus says, “It could be closer than 4 years ago.”
17 electoral votes are at stake in Michigan—and unlike other battleground states, there isn’t a huge registration push. More than 95 percent of eligible voters are already registered.