Some good poll and calendar news for Hillary

Two pieces of good news for Hillary Clinton’s campaign today:

1) A new Gallup poll shows her shows her wide lead holding steady – a 48 to 25 percent margin over Barack Obama, with John Edwards at 13 percent. Yes, it’s easy to dismiss national polls like this, given the momentum that Obama and Edwards are banking on from success in the early states next January. But…

2) There’s a new early state in the mix, and it’s a good venue for Hillary. Michigan is now set to schedule a primary for January 15, potentially making it the third of the early nominating contests.

Michigan’s pols are unanimous in wanting to move their date up, but the hidden story here is the debate over whether the January 15 contest should be a primary or a caucus. Traditionally, the labor-dominated state has held a Democratic caucus, which has skewed the results in favor of candidates on the left – like Jesse Jackson, whose finest hour as a presidential candidate  came with his landslide win in Michigan’s ’88 caucuses, and Jerry Brown, who finished a surprising second in 1992 (helping to usher Paul Tsongas from the Democratic race).

Not surprisingly, John Edwards’ supporters in the state – most notably U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak and former Rep. (and current Edwards campaign manager) David Bonior – argued for a caucus in ’08. But Republicans and key Democrats – like Governor Jennifer Granholm – wanted a primary, in which labors influence is not as pronounced and non-interest group voters have more of a voice. With today’s 21-17 state Senate vote, Granholm and the Republicans won out – and so did Hillary.