Of course the entire Michigan vote was a charade. Former Michigan Senator Donald Riegle compared it to Soviet elections: "a sham" she, Bill, and her supporters "rigged to give the nation the impression that she's the leading candidate in Michigan." In an October 2007 New Hampshire Public Radio interview that every delegate should hear, Clinton justified her staying on the Michigan ballot by explaining, "this election they're having is not going to count for anything." As Michigan Public Radio commentator Jack Lessenberry pointed out, fewer than 600,000 voted in the state's Democratic primary, compared to 867,000 Republican votes (and 2.5 million votes for John Kerry in 2004). So Michigan and Florida are among just a handful of states where Republican turnout exceeded that of the Democrats in this year's primaries. The vast bulk of Michigan Democrats stayed home, with way fewer voting than in far smaller states.
All this so profoundly taints the Michigan primary result that the only reasonable solution is to split the state's delegates down the middle. But another factor makes the taint still worse--the 60,000 Democrats who crossed over to vote Republican, based on their 7 percent share of the Republican vote. (In comparison, in South Carolina's contested primary, 11 days later, just 2% of the Republican voters were Democrats. Add in the vote for "uncommitted," and for Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Chris Dodd (who'd already dropped out), plus the 27,000 votes that Lori Hansen Riegle (Senator Riegle's wife), says were discarded because of write-ins, and the non-Clinton total climbs to 353,686, or 25,000 more than Hillary's 328,151.
Michigan Democrats who felt the vote was meaningless were in fact encouraged to cross over. Since everyone (including Clinton) said the results wouldn't count, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsis suggested Michigan Democrats vote for Mitt Romney to prolong the Republican race, keep the Republican candidates at each others' throats, and perhaps help nominate the presumably less-electable Mitt Romney. In other words, pretty much what Rush Limbaugh and his allies ended up doing, except that unlike Indiana and Ohio, Michigan had no laws even theoretically prohibiting such an action. No one thought Clinton would have the chutzpah to retroactively claim a Soviet-style victory. Other progressive bloggers picked up on the idea as well. I also heard it discussed on my local Air America affiliate. These strategic voters, whether inspired by the blogs or self-initiated, combined with other Democrats who simply figured McCain was less fundamentalist than Huckabee and had more substance than Romney's empty-suit puffery, so would still be a better choice for America if the Democratic candidate lost. Had all of them stayed in the Democratic primary and voted against Hillary, it would have tipped her to 48 percent.
This resonates with my experience. I've gotten emails from people throughout these states who've described coworkers, neighbors, or friends who they witnessed bragging or laughing about being part of Rush's crossover legions. I've read many similar first-person accounts on various blogs. Given the size of Limbaugh's audience and that of his allies in this effort, it seems perfectly conceivable that he shifted 2-3 percent of the vote in each of the states that he targeted. Those jumping on the Daily Kos campaign in Michigan had a far smaller megaphone, but operated under similar strategic assumptions. They were hardly Hillary supporters, or they'd have voted for her, but the numbers suggest their votes made a difference, helping give her the "victory" she now clings to.
Clinton's negligible hopes require both massive superdelegate shifts and seating both Michigan and Florida according to her fantasy projections, where Obama gets zero Michigan delegates because he wasn't on the ballot, and where Obama loses in a Florida vote he never had a chance to contest. The Rules Committee decision-makers would do well to remember the conscious interventions of those who tried to game the primary system. In the case of Michigan, they hardly intended to benefit Hillary, but without their switch, she wouldn't have been able to make even the hollow claims on which she now rests so much of her last-stand campaign.