Michigan voters focus on job losses

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Disappearing jobs. That is the issue that primarily motivated nearly 150,000 Michigan voters to participate in the Democratic presidential caucus. Since George W. Bush took office, 140,000 manufacturing jobs were lost and the state’s official unemployment rate stands at 7.2 percent.

For Michigan voters, Bush’s claim that jobs are returning is like his claim that Iraq had WMDs. They just aren’t there.

Participants in this second-largest caucus in Democratic Party history in Michigan have consistently expressed their belief that Bush’s political interests were not the same as theirs. One steelworker here said he felt that “Bush’s foreign interests have outweighed his domestic interests.” And this is why he will not be voting for Bush in 2004.

Sen. John Kerry ended up with 52 percent of the vote in Michigan. Howard Dean had 17 percent, John Edwards 13 percent, and Al Sharpton and Wesley Clark each had 7 percent. Dennis Kucinich got 3 percent of the vote.

Unity to defeat Bush was another key factor in the huge turnout. After announcing the vote totals in Lansing, Lt. Governor John Cherry remarked that “140,000 plus Democrats came out to the polls today and the loser was George W. Bush.”

The large manufacturing unions, such as the United Autoworkers and the Steelworkers, played only a minor role in the caucus, as the UAW didn’t endorse any candidate and the USWA had endorsed Gephardt. It is expected, however, that as the Democratic nominee becomes clearer, they will be mobilizing their membership and the community to turn out the vote against Bush.

The author can be reached at jwendland@politicalaffairs.net.