A Look at the 2020 Election: Michigan

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

The current House delegation to DC out of Michigan is split 7-7 while both Senators are Democrats and they elected a fascist Democrat governor two years ago.  Let’s start at the top of the ticket and work our way down.

In 2016, while Hillary Clinton and the Democrats had this state in their column, polling by the Trump campaign showed that he could pull out a thin victory of about 25,000.  He eventually won the state by less than 11,000 votes.  The presence of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein on the ballot likely were the factors that created the result coupled with Hillary Clinton’s ineptitude and the fact people just do not like her.  It is safe to say that the Democrats will not be caught with their pants down in Michigan in 2020.  The problem for the Democrats is their candidate- Joe Biden.  Although he may be more likeable than Clinton in a goofy sort of way, his declining mental abilities are an issue.  And his VP pick- Kamala Harris- is not going to help him.

As for Trump, his approval rating in the state tracks in the low 40% range which is usually not good news.  However, given the option of Biden, that bad news may be offset.  In 2016, there were 75,000 voters who made a choice down-ballot, but not for President because they did not like either choice.  Also, between Johnson and Stein, that was another 223,000.  In short, about 300,000 Michigan voters did not like Trump or Clinton.  Along with write-ins and independent candidates, greater than 7% of voters rejected both major party candidates.

Trump does not necessarily have to win Michigan’s electoral votes to prevail, but it would be nice.  Although likely to revisit this state at the end of this series, for the moment only because the Democrats will pull out all the stops including importing dead voters from Illinois if need be, this will go down to the wire, but I am predicting a victory for Biden.

In the Senate race, Republican John James will take on Democrat incumbent Gary Peters.  To say the incumbent has some problems would be an understatement.  He sports a very low 36% approval rating in Michigan against 28% disapproval.  His main problem is the remaining 36% who either have no opinion (not a good thing) or do not know who he is (a worse thing).

James ran two years ago against another Democrat incumbent, Debbie Stabenow, who is more known with higher approval ratings in Michigan (45%) than Peters.  Still, James ran a respectable campaign although losing by a little than 300,000 votes.  It was the closest election ever for Stabenow.  Now with the experience, James’ chances in 2020 are greater than they were in 2018.  Whether that translates into a victory or whether that means Peters wins by less than 100,000 votes is the big question.  Again, how Trump performs in Michigan and the perception of Michigan voters of Trump and Peters could play to the advantage of James.  Suppose there are still 75,000+ apathetic voters who reject both Trump and Biden.  That is not bad news for James if he can capture those down-ballot votes.  In 2016, there was no senatorial race with which to compare potential outcomes.  If Trump wins the state, his coat tails may just sweep up enough votes for James.

James entered August trailing Peters by about 6 points in the average of over 30 polls.  Since then, he has eaten into that lead and now trails by less.  The trend is positive and if he can maintain that momentum, this may be a surprise GOP pick up in the Senate.  In fact, this writer, given the problems of Peters, a close presidential race, and a seasoned Republican challenger, is predicting a James victory.

As mentioned earlier, the House delegation is evenly split 7-7.  The following Congressional district races are of interest: The Third (Justin Amash-I), the Sixth (Fred Upton, Republican), the Seventh (Tim Wahlberg, Republican), the 8th (Elissa Slotkin, Democrat), and Tenth (open Republican).  Starting with the 3rd, virtue signaler extraordinaire Justin Amash broke with the GOP over the Trump impeachment fiasco revealing what a d-bag he was all along.  From everything this writer has read, he was not that well-liked in his district regardless.  The original plan was for him to run as an independent, but realized people just do not like him, so he will likely end up as a “conservative analyst” for MSNBC soon.

The Democrat candidate is Hillary Scholten, a lawyer who worked in the Obama DOJ who is opposed by Republican Peter Meijer.  It would not be a total surprise if the Democrats won this seat, but I’m not betting on it.  Trump heavily won this district in 2016 which probably indicates why Amash is so disliked.  In the Sixth, Fred Upton seems to be a perennial target, but manages to win.  It is a swingish district, but he will likely win again.  Tim Wahlberg in the 7th is also targeted by the Democrats and manages to win.  He faces Gretchen Driskell who is receiving some money for the effort.  Still, look for Wahlberg to prevail.

The 8th encompasses the suburbs to the west of Detroit.  Clinton defeated Trump in this district by 4 points in 2016 and in 2018, current Democrat incumbent Elissa Slotkin defeated Republican Mike Bishop.  Redistricting may have helped Slotkin win when in 2013 the boundaries were shifted south to take in more of Oakland county.  However, Slotkin faces a serious challenge in Paul Junge.  The problem for Slotkin was her wavering stand on Trump’s impeachment.  She eventually voted for it and constituents expressed their displeasure at town halls held afterwards.  This may be a defining issue in this district and opportunity for Junge to exploit.

I include the Tenth District only because it is an open race.  In 2016, this district went heavily for Trump in 2016 and for Schuette and James in 2018.  For the GOP, it is Lisa McClain and Kimberly Bizon for the Democrats who may be a little too left for the likes of this district despite her efforts otherwise.  This stays in GOP hands.

With the caveat to return to this state at the conclusion of this series, give Michigan’s 16 electoral votes to Biden for now, but put John James in the Senate overcoming a 67-year tradition of not defeating a Democrat incumbent Senator.  Slotkin will win a close race, so the delegation should remain 7-7, which is just about right for a swing state.

Running totals:  Do not fret, but Trump still leads in the electoral vote count 240-239.  In the Senate, the GOP leads 51-43 and in the House, at worse, the GOP remains tied 191-191.  Yep- it is that close in 2020.

Next: Pennsylvania

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