Michigan voters cast ballots

January 15, 2008 8:06:10 PM PST
Snow and frigid temperatures are testing the resolve of voters in Michigan. Residents there are braving the elements to vote for the Republican presidential candidates in the primary elections Tuesday.

Snow has been falling across parts of Michigan, threatening what is already expected to be a light voter turnout.

Nevertheless, it is expected to be a close race among the top three Republican contenders.

Mitt Romney and John McCain are virtually tied in all of the polls, with Mike Huckabee is creeping up in third place. The businessman, preacher and war hero have converged on the state with the highest national unemployment rate, promising a climate of change in tough economic times.

Romney is trying to rebound from disappointing losses in Iowa and New Hampshire with a win in Michigan, where his father was a two-term governor and an auto company executive.

McCain, the GOP frontrunner in national polls after winning New Hampshire last week, is going for two wins in a row in a state where he beat George W. Bush in 2000.

Huckabee is counting on Michigan's sizable evangelical community to at least finish a strong third, and perhaps better, on a day with low voter turnout all over the state, including in southwest Michigan, where one former Chicagoan is voting for Republican Fred Thompson, even though Thompson is not a serious contender.

"I'm certainly exposed [to him] through 'Law and Order.' I think Fred Thompson is one of those guys like Clark Gable or Jimmy Stewart. They are who they are. They play themselves," said voter Steve Rubinkam.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is the only frontrunner named on the Michigan ballot. There is no Barack Obama and no John Edwards, and the reason is simple: the national Democratic party stripped the Democratic party in Michigan of its convention delegates when Michigan moved its primary up by a full month, against the orders of the national party. As a result, Obama and Edwards, and some of the others, stopped campaigning in Michigan. Their absence from the ballot is aggravating many former Chicagoans now living and voting in Michigan.

Check ABCNews.com for updates on Michigan's primary results.

Big day for Republicans; different story for Democrats

The primary date was moved against the wishes of the Democratic Party, so Michigan has been stripped of all of its Democratic delegates.

Not a single democratic presidential candidate is saying yes to Michigan this year because the votes Tuesday mean absolutely nothing wven though Barack Obama's campaign is a bit suspicious of Hillary Clinton for not actually taking her name off the ballot. Obama's supporters in Michigan, many of them ex--pats from Chicago, were upset they can't stand by their man.

Dani Lane is one of many unhappy Michigan voters on this peculiar primary day. And she, like a lot of them, are former Chicago Democrats who now live in scenic New Buffalo, Michigan. They wanted to vote for Obama. But his name's not even on the ballot because most of the Democratic candidates decided not to compete there after the national party stripped Michigan of its Democratic convention delegates from moving its primary to mid January over the party's objections.

"I really am astonished and completely confused. Nobody can explain it exactly," said Lane.

"I'm furious at it. I can't believe that I can't vote for the president of the United States. People are obsessed they can't vote for the candidates that they've been seeing on television and in the newspapers," said Sara Bode.

As a result, these former Chicagoans are reluctantly marking their Democratic ballots for "uncommitted," hoping they can switch to Obama later on if the party eventually decides to restore Michigan's delegates.

"I voted uncommitted, which is what we were urged to do to have our ballots counted. If we wrote in something, the ballot would be void," said Joan Weishaupt-Jones.

And it also creates a situation in which a lot of voters, angry Democrats feeling their votes don't mean anything in a Democratic primary, decide to cross over and vote for a Republican.

One former Chicagoan said she wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton but didn't and took a Republican ballot and voted for John McCain.