January 15th, 2008
10:09 PM ET
14 years ago

How Romney won: Economy, evangelicals, local ties

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/15/art.romneywin.ap.jpg caption=" Three factors helped Romney win Michigan."](CNN) - Mitt Romney's victory over John McCain can be credited to three factors, CNN exit polling indicates.

A majority of Michigan voters named the economy as the most pressing issue - and those voters overwhelming chose the former Massachusetts governor and one-time successful businessman: 41 percent of them went for Romney, compared to 29 percent who went for McCain.

Romney was also aided by winning a strong share of evangelical voters. As predicted, evangelical turnout was up this cycle - they constituted 38 percent of GOP primary voters. Mike Huckabee was banking on winning this bloc as overwhelmingly as he had in Iowa, but the exit polls indicate that he and Romney were essentially tied among those voters, with Romney getting the votes of 33 percent to Huckabee’s 31 percent.

Finally, Romney's local ties to Michigan - he was born there, and his father served as the state’s governor - may have put him over the top: 41 percent of Republican primary voters said Romney's connection to Michigan was an important factor in their decision on who to support.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: John McCain • Michigan
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    Romney will say whatever he thinks you want to hear to be elected, but he will do what is best for himself when he has the power.

    January 16, 2008 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  2. Bookaholic

    Hey, Jay–Read on: Romney was the youngest son, adored his dad, and was fascinated with cars. During the years that George Romney was head of American Motors, Mitt learned all kinds of trivia about the cars that AMC produced.

    Here's the quote: "Mitt developed a passion for his father's business and sat alongside George Romney as he pored over auto trade publications. The son absorbed the smallest details of the auto industry, down to the minutiae of each car's design. "I used to brag that you could show me one square foot and I could pick out the model and the year of the car," he said.

    We need someone with that kind of intellect and passion running our economy and keeping us safe. We could not do better! Mitt in '08!

    January 16, 2008 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  3. McCain-in-4, Clarksburg MD

    Congratulations, Rommey. This was a decisive win, fairly won and cleanly fought for. If the campaign season continues this way, that will say a lot for the Republican Party.

    I thought Mr Rommey had a rather light-weight answer to raising CAFE standards, which showed how much "business" sense he has. Raising these standards will force our automakers to scrap their current works – true – but that is to be said for every new model year. These new standards will stop this game of chicken and convince these automakers to come out with more efficient cars in the 2011 model year as an industry. There is a market for luxury hybrids – so why must Ford idle production lines, when I am waiting to buy American and stop repairing my 1993 Taurus station wagon and 1999 Windstar?

    These new standards were to level the playing field with Hundai, Toyota and Honda, and finally give me an authentic American choice.

    January 16, 2008 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  4. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Which Mitt are all you voting for? You have several choices – he changes every month and tailors his beliefs for every state. Consider this:

    "Mitt Romney initially pledged his total fidelity to Reagan's "three-legged stool" of strong defense, low taxes, and a "pro-life" social agenda. But after losing two states and much of his credibility, he shifted gears in auto-crazed Michigan, promising government action to combat the loss of manufacturing jobs." Boston Globe

    .... easy to promise ... and btw – I thought he was running for President of the United States, not just Michigan?

    If Mitt is loves Michigan so much – why was he governor of Massachusetts ? Couldn't win in Michigan?

    January 16, 2008 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  5. Corey Cronrath

    Mitt does deserve congrats-he really worked for his win. Having said that, he has again displayed his willingness to tell any give electorate whatever they wish to hear to get their vote. The unfortunate truth is that the '60s heyday of Detroit is gone and any responsible leader must acknowledge that. John McCain hit the nail right on the head when he said that some of the jobs are not coming back. This of course was misrepresented by Romney and some in the media as gloom and doom, as if he said that all jobs were gone and that was that. McCain's focus on retraining displaced workers, wage insurance for those who had to take a lesser paying job, and development of new industries was hardly a defeatist message. I only hope that McCain stays in to win, so we get a real leader in the White House, and not a button-pushing, flip-flopping panderer like Mitt Romney.

    January 16, 2008 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  6. Keriama


    I see that the Daily Kos' plea for Democrats to vote for Mitt failed, because only 7% of Dems voted in the GOP Primary. Too, I'm sure that most of the pundits were hoping that many of them would vote for McCain. Romney even garnered more votes than Billary, who ran almost unapposed in her own party.

    Romney came second in Iowa mainly because it was approx 60% Evangelical in makeup; was runner up in New Hampshire basically because more than 20 news papers/mags came out publicly and endorsed McCain (and with daily anti-Romney editorials/articles and pro-McCain...how could McC' not win?). Michigan was a much fairer race.

    What a great second WIN for MITT!

    January 16, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  7. sarah

    How about this.....Romney won because he's actually a REAL conservative unlike McCain who's barely a Republican. Why does this surprise anyone? It seems to me that McCain and Guliani would be the far left's first choices for the Republican nominee because if either one of them gets it, all the real conservative voters may very well stay home and not vote at all in November....wouldn't the SP's love that?

    January 16, 2008 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  8. W.D.Russell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    Mitt and Mike, give it up on your traveling tent revivals.
    America needs good jobs and health care, not more wars and witchburnings.

    January 16, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  9. Replace the Establishment

    Looks like Ron Paul beat Giuliani and Thompson in Michigan!

    Not surprised the majority of the country is voting for the SOS. After all most Americans now depend on big government for their living and to tell them what to do next!

    January 16, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    To say that unions are the cause for Michigan's troubles is incorrect. Who does the employing? It is the businesses. When they can't build a product that people want, then it is the business that needs to relook at what they are making and selling. The unions do need to give some consessions back to maintain the business, but they still need to look out for their members.

    One thing that is hurting businesses from most reports that I have heard and read is the cost of health care. Most other industrialized countries have a government system pay for most of it. There needs to be a way to give the industries a way to compensate for that large cost. I don't think making employees get their own is the way to go.

    January 16, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. GeeHosaFat

    Oh Boy,

    President Romney and his Magic Underwear.......sounds like a bad movie

    January 16, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. philwynk

    For those who asked, or were wondering:

    There was no Kos effect.

    The blog attached to the National Journal provides exit poll data suggesting that among self-described liberals voting in the Republican primary, John McCain garnered 41% to Mitt Romney's 31%. Plus, much fewer Democrat crossed over to vote in the Republican primary this year than did so in recent past primaries; only 7% of the Republican primary votes were Democrats this year, compared to 17% in 2000.

    January 16, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  13. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Alice Newman as usual you are so wrong.

    So Romney can't ALSO talk about jobs along with lower taxes, security and being pro-life?

    Let me guess, he flip-flopped, right?

    Go ahead and BLINDLY vote for your candidate who is ALLOWED to change "her" positions debate to debate, poll to poll and sentence to sentence and not year to year like others have done based on their experiences.

    Do you REALLY think that NO OTHER candidate sharpens their overall message to fit the state that they are campaigning in? Are you serious?

    I'll save you the trouble.

    Go Mrs Bill Clinton 2008.

    January 16, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. Rhino

    How short a memory the American people have.
    George Romney at least could understand the necessity to have fuel efficient vehicles – Mitt's condemning the Feds for pushing the higher standards and beating up on the poor Big 3, boo hoo.
    Wonder if any other Michiganders remember when AMC relocated operations and all those Michigan workers lost their jobs and got little more than a kick out the door?
    I remember it. I remember my grandfather's "job for life" evaporating and how he struggled as an older citizen to provide for his wife and the deep scars it left on the man. He found other work, and never looked to the government for a dime.
    This was the generation that mobilized after a depression, a second World War and an ill-conceived police action on a Chinese peninsula. Are we turning their legacy into a nation of complacent whiners who are blindly led by empty promises and uses a 30 second political campaign ad to base our choice for President?
    I think we can do better, and I hope that facing hard facts wins over populous pandering as it obviously has in Michigan.
    Congratulations, Mitt – you finally bought a win.
    But you will never buy a presidency.

    January 16, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  15. Jen, Cedar Falls, IA

    Mitt has the Integrity, the Intelligence, the Ability and the Will to actually DO the job of President of the USA. CHECK HIM OUT!

    Mitt doesn't pander, those that say he does has blinders on for their own candidate. He is the cleanest one running on either side, except for Obama.

    The liberal Media (with CNN as it's leader) fears a Romney candidacy because they know he could actually beat any of the Democrats once people get a chance to HEAR HIM. Even FoxNews is afraid he may beat McCain or Hucksterbeen.

    McCain is TOO OLD and is only a war-monger with Democrat principles under a Republican facade.

    Rudy just loves NYC, he cares less about anywhere but FL, CA and NY. We need a President for ALL 50 states, Rudy!

    Romney or Obama!
    Sounds crazy? Yes, but if they're not in I hope Bloomberg runs!
    and ABMcC!

    January 16, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Claire W Solt, PhD

    I am glad to hear Romney speak a pro industry message to counteract the corporate bashing. Most employees know where their jobs come from, and it is not the government. Bad government policies cause lots of difficulties for doing business. I thought McCain"s straight talk was just wrong. Community colleges dont create jobs He's never made payroll, and doesn't have a clue..

    January 16, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. hawkgrrrl

    Anyone who calls Romney inauthentic has missed his obvious passion for the auto industry; that was not fake. You could accuse him of being naive, but not insincere about bringing MI back from its one-state recession, and frankly, no one can do that who doesn't believe it can be done (e.g. McCain) or who doesn't have any credible business experience to do it (e.g. McCain and Huckabee). Which is why McCain said it can't be done (and all the journalists jumped on the bandwagon).

    Romney may be right that MI is the key to turning the economy around – fix it where it's the most broken, and where it's been broken the longest. Go back to what America does best – innovation and leading in a sexy industry like cars!

    January 16, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. Nomad

    To Todd Jenson – hear, hear!!! Why did the media continue to ignore that Mitt won in WY saying MI was the 3rd test – when it was the 4th!!!??? WY still IS a state and even has delegates – 8 to be exact. I'm so sick of the media, I can't stop watching them!!! Last night was WONDERFUL!!! GO MITT!!!

    January 16, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. SJ

    Glad Michigan voted Mitt for the Rebublican Canidate for President. Evangecials need to realize that Huckabee isn't the most ethical candidate. He has had 14 ethics complaints and rather than cooperate with the investigations he sued the states ethics commission. If religion is so important then wouldn't they want someone who practices what he preaches? Mitt is the only honest candidate with experience to help Washington come together and really help get our country back on track.

    January 16, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. Nomad

    Well, I'd like to address the Evangelical issue concerning the fact that they're presumed to support "the huckster". I must say this about Huckabee – to those of you who think he's a devout Christian and think you're supporting a Minister/Evangelical. I was born and raised a Southern Baptist and my feeling is, if he was "called" to the ministry by God (as Baptist ministers usually say they are), then why did he leave the ministry to go into politics??? Did God tell him he made a mistake??? Talk about ego – maybe? And, McCain is NO conservative - look at the bills he has co-sponsored during his tenure!!! So Mitt changed his mind about abortion – that's the only major issue he's flip-flopped on. Haven't any of YOU changed your mind on an issue!!! All of us Republicans better come to our senses and back the ONLY candidate who has the goods – on all fronts!!! Someone who can beat the tax-crazed, big Government Democrats!!! Heaven help us!!! Again, GO MITT 2008!!!!!

    January 16, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. Amy

    On to Victory, Mitt! Thanks Michigan! You deserve credit for helping the rest of America to see the only really viable Republican candidate. As for CNN being biased...of course. They only want to prop up Huckabee and McCain because they know that ANY of the Dem candidates could crush them. They attack Romney because they are AFRAID of him!
    Mitt in '08!!

    January 16, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  22. Bryan

    It is really sad to see how pathetic so-called "conservatives" have become. They don't realize that a vote for anybody other than Ron Paul is a vote to continue the failed policies of the neo-con/marxist/globalist Bush government.

    Most Americans have no idea what true conservatism is since they are so far removed from reality that they would need to use the Hubble telescope to find their way back to reality.

    A vote for anybody other than Ron Paul is a vote to continue the disasters brought about by eight years of George Bush and eight years of Bill Clinton before him.

    All of the candidates of both parties are essentially the same, they just offer a view irrelevant variations. The basic results of their policies will be the same. It is a matter of whether you want a 4 door sedan that is red, blue, green, with fog-lights, without, etc... The basic thing you are left with is a 4 door sedan...

    Ron Paul is the only candidate from either party who has the integrity and determination to put this country back on the right track. If you don't vote for Ron Paul, it doesn't really matter who you vote for, since all of the other candidates are just different flavors of socialism/communism/globalism/marxism/etc, with the end result being an America that is perpetually involved in foreign wars and perpetually a domestic police-state.

    January 16, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. Shannon Shiflett

    evangelicals are so irrational - CRAZY - they'd rather vote for a republican who believes satan is the brother of jesus rather than vote in an informed, intelligent way. superstition really drags this country down.

    January 16, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. AMM

    What you are missing here is that Mitt is talking about working on the health care crisis and spending billions on research. This is not a hand out to the auto industry. It is productive help in developing new products. Stop saying it is an auto industry bail out. It is help, but not a bail out. Yes, Mitt does care about the auto industry and this increased cafe doesn't real help decrease fuel consumption. In fact as CAFE standards has gone up so has the amount of driving – the laws of supply and demand.

    January 16, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Daniel

    Congrats Evangelicals on putting aside religious prejudice and being willing to vote for the best candidate out there.

    January 16, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
1 2 3