Four Michigan Congressional districts are among some three dozen throughout the nation that showed the biggest shift from Democrat to Republican at the presidential level between 2012 and 2016.
In other words, these four districts (out of a national total of 435) showed the biggest move away from Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 toward Republican Donald Trump in 2016, according to left-leaning Daily Kos Elections, as cited in Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
The four districts are the 5th, represented by Dan Kildee (D-Flint); the 9th, represented by Sander Levin (D-Southfield); the 12th, represented by Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn); and the 13th, represented by John Conyers, Jr. (D-Detroit).
The biggest shift was in Kildee’s 5th, at 18.2% — 11% fewer voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton last fall than for Obama in 2012, and 7.2% more voted for Trump than for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. In fact, Clinton carried what has been thought to be the heavily Democratic 5th by barely more than 4%.
In Sander Levin’s 9th CD, the shift wasn’t as big — 7.5% total (5.7% less for Clinton than Obama, 1.8% more for Trump compared with Romney). In Dingell’s 12th, it was 7.1% — 5.4% fewer voted for Clinton than for Obama in 2012, 1.7% more voted for Trump than Romney. In Conyers’s 13th, the swing was 10.2% — Clinton got 6.4% less of the presidential vote than Obama did in 2012, while Trump got 3.8% more than Romney.
Keep in mind that so-called “third-party” candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein took a chunk of the vote last fall (about 5%) that cut the percentages of both Clinton and Trump. Obama and Romney didn’t have to contend with splinter party opponents who had anywhere near such an impact.
Conversely, there were no districts in Michigan among the 435 CDs throughout the nation that showed Michigan anywhere near the top of the chart for movement from Obama to Clinton, or that Trump’s support deteriorated from what Romney achieved in 2012.
Everything we’ve just cited doesn’t mean the Democratic Congressional incumbents in these four Michigan CDs had any trouble winning re-election last November. They didn’t. They all ran well ahead of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. For example, Kildee won over his Republican opponent, 61.1%-35.5% (with minor party nominees picking up the rest); Levin won, 58%-36%; Dingell won, 67.1% to 26.1%; and Conyers coasted, 76.5%-17%.
Kildee outperformed Clinton by the most, about 26%; Dingell was next with a 19% advantage over her party’s presidential nominee; Levin was about 14% better than Clinton; and Conyers roughly matched Clinton’s performance.
What this might mean, however, is that the ground is shifting slightly in the four Democratic incumbent’s electoral terrains and that, if any of them (except Conyers) forsakes re-election in the next few years, their districts might be at some risk in open seat races, under propitious circumstances for Republicans.