Let’s first dispense with this silly notion that Michigan is a purple state. Every four years I hear of how Michigan is in play only to have it go for the Democratic nominee for President. Yes, there are pockets of conservative/Republican areas as there are in the bluest of blue states. This year, we have a gubernatorial race, an open Democratic-held Senate seat and the congressional districts all up for grabs.
Everyone knew that Republican Rick Snyder would have a tough time being reelected. In 2012 in response to a right-to-work law, Snyder’s approval ratings in Michigan were in a free fall tumbling a net 28 points. Early in 2014, sensing another run, organized labor began targeting him for defeat. The main points of contention in the general election campaign against Democrat Mark Schauer is Detroit, education and gay marriage. Snyder has noted that Detroit is close to emerging from bankruptcy stronger and that education spending is up $1 billion under his watch. He also said that he would abide by a court decision if they strike down the state’s ban on gay marriage.
This has been an expensive race with political heavyweights weighing in on both sides and outside spending is huge. Schauer has been slowly eating away the lead in polls as Election Day nears with Snyder still up an average of 4.2 points overall. However, I believe the race will be closer than that and when the dust settles I am predicting that Snyder will be reelected by no more than 3 percentage points.
The open Senate seat currently held by the retiring [mc_name name=’Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’L000261′ ] has also been interesting. [mc_name name=’Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000595′ ] is the man for the Democrats and the GOP chose Terri Lynn Land, the former Michigan secretary of state. This race started out promising for the GOP, but has since gone south. Like the gubernatorial race, it has been expensive with over $200 million spent on ads thus far. What started out as promising has turned sour. Part of it is Land herself who has been all over the map when it comes to issues. She failed to pick up on any theme that resonated with voters when one was ready made for her- Obamacare.
Land never had the lead in polls although she came precariously close which may have given the GOP false hopes. She obviously lost the polling wars in September which set her back some. It may be too much ground lost to make up now unless she can find something that excites voters. Her recent ad attacking Peters for an allegation of a “war on women” being waged by a Republican woman received some national attention. Since that ad aired, she has made up some ground. When the dust settles, I am afraid that Peters will win by about 8-9 points, although I may revisit this race at the end of this series.
Now for a blue state, the GOP holds the partisan advantage in House seats, 9-5. Three GOP seats are open races and there are two open Democratic seats. In the open Republican seats, I suspect that John Moolenaar will keep the 4th District in Republican hands. The problems are the 8th District currently held by [mc_name name='[mc_name name=’Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000572′ ] (R-AL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000575′ ] and the 11th held by [mc_name name=’Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001280′ ] who lost his primary challenge to Dave Trott. Bentivolio has since announced a write-in candidacy to “draw out Republican voters” in the district, although that reasoning is beyond me. If he gets 4-5% of the vote, it hurts Trott. This District has been in Republican control for four generations. The DCCC is reserving $1 million in ad time for their candidate, Bobby McKenzie. Although I believe Mike Bishop will keep the 8th for the GOP, the 11th may be a lonely bright spot for the Democratic Party on Election Day. Going on a limb here and predicting a Democratic pick up.
As for the the two open Democratic seats, they are liberal strongholds and should remain in Democratic hands. However, there are three other somewhat vulnerable Republican seats- the 3rd, 6th, and 7th- that need mentioning. In the Third, [mc_name name=’Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’A000367′ ] is probably the best Republican fit for the area, coming off as more libertarian than anything else. He has clashed with all elements of the GOP at times. That may just be enough to secure an Amash victory as I predict. The 6th is located in southwest Michigan and is represented by [mc_name name=’Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’U000031′ ]. His opponent, university professor Paul Clements, would have to be considered a long shot at this point, but anything is possible in Michigan. Still, I am sticking with Upton in this race.
Finally, there is the 7th District represented by Tim Wahlberg. Although no pundits have this one their radar, I am including it as a race to watch. He will face Democrat Pam Byrnes who has been touted by the national party. For Byrnes, however, that same national party has basically declared her DOA and is pulling money out of this race. This adjustment indicates that despite what Pelosi asserts, the national Democratic Party has realized they cannot win the House. They are now playing defense trying to mitigate their losses by propping up vulnerable Democratic incumbents elsewhere. In effect, they are onto something here and that something is the fact they will not defeat Wahlberg.
Thus out of Michigan, the GOP retains the Governor’s office, but fail to capture an open Democratic seat and loses one seat in the House delegation. All that being said, an 8-6 Republican advantage is a more realistic reflection of Michigan politics.
Next: The children at DailyKos are laughing about the Land candidacy in Michigan. Time for conservatives to laugh at Alison Lundergan-Grimes in Kentucky.