Michigan results thread: Romney gets Michigan and survives

1:15am: Last udate of the night, with some information about the voting breakdown in the GOP primary. ROmney actually cut the margins among independents to losing 35% to 29% and 41% to 33% among registered Democrats who voted. McCain was surely hoping for bigger margins there. And among registered Republicans, Romney just got a gigantic lead: 41% to 27%. That accounts for his victory.
12:45am: With 99% of precincts reporting in the Democratic race and 97% in the GOP race, we are very near final results. And Clinton's margin of victory has diminished, though she remains above 50%. She got 55.4% and uncommitted has 39.9%. The late rise of the uncommitted vote can probably be accounted to the Detroit results coming in -- since the black vote appears to have overwhelmingly turned away from Clinton. But it is still good for Hillary to come in above 50% when there had been an effort to hold her under that. Also, can someone ask Edwards and Obama why they withdrew their names from Michigan and not from Florida? Also, the CW is that the delegates are reinstated by the time of the convention. But what happens if the convention is brokered? Odds are Obama allies would then never let the MI and FL delegates in, so would those two swing states be left without representatives?!
In the Republican race, Romney got a large margin of victory, coming in with a higher percentage of the vote than Huck in Iowa and McCain in New Hampshire. He leads 38.9% to 29.8%. Huckabee gets 16.1% and Ron Paul is at 6.3%. Fred Thompson has 3.7% and Rudy Giuliani is at a truly pathetic 2.8%, barely ahead of uncommitted and its 2.1%. More commentary on the results tomorrow.

11pm: The CNN exit polls confirm that 70% of the black vote went to "uncommitted" and finds that 73% of black voters say they would have voted Obama if he had been on the ballot. That is a huge number given Clinton prided herself with running roughly equal with Obama among the African-American community until recently. Clinton better hope this is due to this week's focus on race, because she might have a lot of trouble come February 5th (and certainly come South Carolina).
10:45pm: The Democratic debate is winding down, and it has been amazingly focused on substance and issues over the past hour. A shocking contrast to the first half-hour. Meanwhile, we now have 78% of vote and Romney is ahead 39% to 30%. In what has to be a disappointing showing given that he had a lot of potential in Michigan, Huckabee is left far behind at 16%. Ron Paul is fourth 6%. Thompson sinks at 4% and Giuliani at 3%; they are still barely ahead of uncommitted (2%).
9:40pm: The first part of the debate is over, and the first 35 minutes were almost entirely devoted to process questions with Russert and Williams trying to draw Clinton and Obama into a fight over race, gender. Obama was even asked about the e-mail smears against him. (I will post an analysis of the debate after, rather than live-blog it). Meanwhile, with 33% of precincts reporting, Romney is up 39% to 30%, with Huckabee at 16%. Paul is beating Thompson and Giuliani.
9:20pm: The night was short, as I had said it would probably be at the beginning of the night. We will keep an eye on the margins now, of course, to see if Romney can put some distance between him and McCain. With 20% in, Romney is up 10%, and the lead is increasing. But most eyes (and mine) are turned to the Democratic debate now.

9:01pm: The election is already called for Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton.
Romney's victory is obviously the big story, it saves his candidacy and he can now press forward with a delegate lead and the first one to win two states! And for those wondering whether Clinton's victory might matter, consider that there is a banner with the results on the bottom of MSNBC's screen that will remind debate watchers that Clinton won Michigan. Also, remember that there was an active bid by Obama and Edwards ally to drive up the uncommitted number and perhaps even hold Clinton under 50%.

9pm: Polls have just closed everywhere, and the Democrats are stepping on the Las Vegas stage. TPM has long reported the exit polls they are seeing that have Romney winning by 6%. With real votes coming in and 9% reporting, it's Romney on top 37% to 31% with Giuliani above uncommitted.
8:40pm: Obama and Clinton have managed to find a way to fight about Michigan. Obama started the latest back-and-forth by sending a memo to the press asking them to not spin a Clinton win as a real victory... and then charges Clinton with secretly planning to campaign in Florida (that had to be coming)! Clinton answered that the Obama camp was driving people to the polls to get them to vote uncommitted. Meanwhile, with 4% of precincts reporting, Clinton leads uncommitted 63% to 31%. Romney is ahead of McCain 35% with 32%, with Huckabee at 17%. Giuliani is under uncommitted (keep an eye on that storyline tonight, and don't be surprised if Huckabee gets a good showing, as low turnout helps him too). One other note: Romney's strongest region is the Detroit metro area, and those precincts will likely report later.
8:30pm: Exit poll of the Democratic race shows Clinton handily crushing... uncommitted but black voters in the exit poll are voting uncommitted with 70%, a huge slap to Clinton after a week of focus on race. Exit polls showing Romney running better than in NH among registered Republicans. And in a last minute decision, the NV supreme court ruled against Kucinich (literally at the last minute), who will not be in the debate tonight.
7:50pm: A week ago, Romney was "cautiously optimistic" in New Hampshire, and Jonathan Martin reports that Team Romney is optimistic again right now. McCain's team has been spinning a possible victory all day already, saying that Romney is only winning as a native son. At least the campaigns have set expectations. Now it will soon be the results.
7:30pm: The early exit polls are already trickling in, and we are getting our first indication as to what proportion of the GOP electorate is independent/registered Democrats: In the early exit polls, 68% of voters are registered Republicans, 25% are independents and 7% are registered Democrats. That's way superior to what Zogby was betting on, but also inferior to the surge in Republican voting that Mitchell had predicted in his projection of a large Romney victory. But the number is still enough for Romney to hope for victory -- in 2000, when McCain beat Bush, only 45% of voters were registered Republicans, so this is a much less favorable electorate for the Arizona Senator. Though keep in mind that McCain does much better among registered Republicans than he did in 2000.

Another exit poll indication: Most voters are concerned about the economy (55% rate it as their most pressing issue), and while that is certainly expected it is good for Romney who does best among voters preoccupied with the economy.

Original post: Hard to believe we have already reached our third results thread, and it hasn't even been two weeks since Iowa! The race now looks entirely different than it did at the start of the year, and the Republican Party could take a big step towards coronating McCain tonight... or push the primary process into further chaos by voting for Romney. With one eye on the Democratic debate, I will be updating the Michigan results here, but keep in mind that the night could be short: The GOP winner in IA and NH was announced very early in the evening, and it should not take as much time as usual for precincts to count ballots given how small turnout appears to be. We will also be looking to see whether Clinton's rivals managed to keep under 50% by pushing Dems to vote "uncommitted."

For now, you can always check the final round of polls that were released this morning!

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