Question 1): So, what happened last Tuesday (Nov. 8), anyway?
Answer 1): No mystery here. There’s nothing that could be added to what has already been written and broadcast ad nauseum during the past week — Michigan Republicans were decimated in an election when history tells us it never should have happened. The GOP lost everything of value — the governorship and the other three constitutional offices; the state House and Senate; a majority of the U.S. House delegation (it will now be 7-6, D-R); and all the state education board seats (the Democrats now control all four by 6-2 margins); and a passel of county commissioner races. The only thing the party managed to hang onto was one seat on the state Supreme Court. The reasons are obvious: 1) A dysfunctional Michigan Republican Party structure, from the chairman and co-chairman on down, with warring factions of pro-Trumpers and “traditional” conservative/moderate Republicans at each other’s throats for two years; 2) Incompetent amateurs running for governor, half of whom couldn’t even pass the basic Political Science 101 litmus test of getting their petitions of candidacy certified for ballot access; 3) The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision,which was a killer at the polls, with the Republicans struggling to defend it if they even dared talk about it; 4) Turnout, which appears to have reached a record 4.4 million voters, always an advantage for Democrats while it appears a couple of hundred thousand GOP voters stayed home ; and 5) Campaign finance, traditionally a Republican strength but this year where the Democrats had some unanticipated success, particularly in races for the state Senate and most prominently in the governor’s contest, where Gretchen Whitmer was allowed to buy a second term. No Michigan gubernatorial candidate in history had as much money spent on her behalf as Whitmer, and the difference of spending between Whitmer and GOP nominee Tudor Dixon was staggering — when all is said and done, it may have been a 5-1 advantage Whitmer or as much as 10-1. That enabled Whitmer to run away with the election and to pay no price for her first term. Issues? Forget it. Inflation? It didn’t matter. It was abortion, abortion, abortion. That tipped younger voters, particularly women many of whom were independents, toward Whitmer and the Democrats.
Question 2): . How shocking a development was the Democrats taking control of both chambers of the Michigan Legislature?
Answer 2): Shocking only because it hadn’t happened with a Democrat in the governor’s office in nearly four decades, and only the second time since World War II — in fact, not since 1938. But with the maps drawn for the first time in Michigan history by an “independent” redistricting commission, the district lines clearly showed that the Democrats had an edge in a majority of the enclaves in play in both the state Senate AND the state House of Representatives. All summer and fall, the “conventional wisdom” in the news media (which is clueless about most of these matters) was that the Republicans would almost surely retain control of the House, but that they were in trouble in the Senate. In fact, on paper the Democrats plainly had MORE of an advantage in the House than in the Senate. As it turned out, the Democrats captured control of BOTH chambers by narrow margins — 20-18 in the Senate, 56-54 in the House. The only thing that might have made for a different outcome would have been if this had been a “Red Wave” Republican year, like 1994 or 2010. As everyone knows, that didn’t happen, in Michigan or nationally. So, even though Republican legislative nominees did better collectively than their top-of-the-ticket candidates, it wasn’t enough. With the TOP 4 constitutional officer Democratic nominees winning in landslides, it was too much for the GOP candidates for the House and Senate to overcome. Coattails do, in fact, mean something.
Question 3): Was the race for Attorney General ever as close as the polling made it look?
Answer 3): No. If Republican nominee Matt DePerno had won, or even come close, it would have been an astounding result. No incumbent Attorney General of either party running for re-election has been defeated since 1954 — nearly seven decades ago! DePerno was one of the weakest and most vilified nominees ever, and he had no campaign cash. Clearly, for DePerno to win or come close would have been a protest vote against the current incumbent, Dana Nessel, one of the most polarizing and least competent Attorneys General Michigan has ever had. This would have been a condemnation of her performance in office. As it was, Nessel came the closest of any of the three constitutional officers to losing, but it wasn’t really close — she won by approximately 8.5%. Gretchen Whitmer won by some 11% and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson by a whopping 14%.
Question 4): Was Gov. Whitmer’s big victory joined at the hip with Proposal 3, the abortion rights constitutional amendment on the ballot?
Answer 4): Partly. Whitmer tied herself to support for Proposal 3. It paid off. The abortion rights ballot question won with about 55%, about the same as Whitmer’s winning percentage. Even if Prop 3 had lost, she could have survived that defeat, simply because she had spent a record amount of money to be re-elected, much of it used to trash Republican nominee Tudor Dixon, whose negative disapproval ratings were high because she was the target of so much abuse by Democrats, particularly from outside Michigan.
Question 5): Did the Dixon campaign make a mistake by not trying harder to tie Whitmer to Biden?
Answer 5):: No. Tudor Dixon simply never had the necessary campaign finances to mount a successful effort to do anything, whether it was tying Whitmer to Biden or concentrating on other factors. With the scant resources available to Dixon, her campaign may have made a calculated decision not to waste any of it trying to convince voters that Biden and Whitmer are one and the same. Most voters already know that, and if they were unhappy with the direction of the state and country (they are) and want to protest the chief executives in charge (easy to do), they were not going to vote for Whitmer, anyway. That didn’t mean they voted for Dixon, however, unless the Republican nominee could have spent her meager cash trying to build a positive image (which she couldn’t) that Whitmer and the Democrats had spent so much money destroying in August and September.
Rex LaMore says
Bill, do you think the change in districts made by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission had an impact?
Mark M. Koroi says
Even though I am not “Bill”, the legislative gerrymandering for years in Michigan helped the GOP for decades retain control of the Michigan Senate and Republican Party insiders feared the Redistricting Commission would upset the balance of power.
It clearly did. Placing Sen. Mike McDonald in northern Macomb County, for instance, into a new district that dipped into Eastpointe and Detroit devastated his chances at re-election.
It was also a double-edged sword as rising star Democrat Representative Padma Kuppa lost her Senate bid to a relatively unknown GOP nominee. But as a whole, redistricting bestowed a net benefit upon Democrats in this state.
J.Dallas Winegarden says
Good Analysis Bill ,but most important is the fact that the Republicans With their enabler’s and
deniers did not have Quality People running!
Also I’m very proud of the great Michigan majority that in-spite of the media Circus we face Dailey were able to See the Difference and Save Michigan from Tyranny
Barbara Green says
Nowhere do you acknowledge that Michigan voters were smart enough to reject election deniers. You don’t even mention the words. Extremists were sent packing as they should have been across the country. Isn’t it time for you — BB — to say loud and clear, “Trump lost in 2020. Let’s move on.” Barbara Green
Bill Gelineau - 2018 Libertarian Nominee for Governor says
Bill. I hear a bit of rationalization here. Sure, abortion was important. Terrible candidates (Trumpism) were important. And the money point is somewhat telling — even Republicans with money didn’t help this group of candidates.
Maybe all that need be said is that the party should focus on the things that made Milliken and Ford key parts of a successful Michigan Republican Party. Efficient government – building economic opportunity – holding taxes to only what is needed – personal freedom.
The culture war and Know-Nothing-ism is a loser. Dozens of sensible Republicans could have easily defeated Whitmer except they avoided the run due to the base being poisoned by Trumpism. And Republican women who quietly rebelled because of Dobbs.
Now we get to watch the Democrats misinterpret these results as a mandate for nonsense of their own.
Mark M. Koroi says
Macomb County was known as “Trump Country” as he won decisive electoral victories there in both 2016 and 2020.
Nevertheless, Trump-endorsed Kristina Karamo lost to Jocelyn Benson in the Secretary of State race on November 8th in Macomb County by well over 11% AND lost statewide to Benson statewide by 14%.
Benson’s campaign team pounded the table that Karamo had no election administration experience nor anything else suggesting she was remotely qualified for the office of Michigan Secretary of State – and the electorate seemed to accept that argument.
Trumpism sells in Macomb County – but candidates perceived as not qualified do not.
David Richards says
The lack of funding for the Republican statewide candidates is a function of the nominees being “incompetent amateurs”, unacceptable to people who would normally have funded a Republican candidate. Too many Republicans determining the nominees rejected the concept of compromise, and nominated, partly with the influence of Trump, people who represented their ideal candidates, despite those candidates being attractive to only a minority of the electorate. It is not a popular point of view these days, but there is a lot to be said for decisions on nominations being made in the traditional “smoke-filled room” (for those younger folks not familiar with that term, it means candidates being picked behind closed doors by party leadership, rather than primary voters).
Walt Sorg says
Our goal at Voters Not Politicians was to have elections reflect the voters rather than the needs of the party drawing the maps. The outcome in the Legislature and Congressional races almost exactly reflects the leanings of Michigan voters: Democrats had a small margin in votes for the state House, state Senate and Congress which gave them narrow margins in the three caucuses:
* House 50.55% – 49.25% (Dems won 50.91% of the seats, the narrowest majority possible)
* Senate 50.53% – 49.11% (Dems won 52.63% of the seats, the narrowest majority possible)
* Congress 49.92% – 47.61% (Dems won 53.85% of the seats, the narrowest majority possible)
(Percentages reflect total vote including votes for third-party candidates)
(Data source: Michigan Department of State)
Matt Crehan says
WHY DID THE GOP LOSE? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…
FIRST, Since the advent of term limits, voters are reluctant to remove anyone, instead choosing to let the elected official serve the maximum number of terms allowed. Take a look as the House and Senate; most are never replaced until they cannot run for re-election. (That may change since terms have been extended) So it goes without saying that whoever is Governor, Attorney General, or Secretary of State stood an excellent chance of retaining those offices, regardless of party.
SECOND, the Republicans were in a massive state of shock when half of their candidates for Governor were thrown off the ballot due to signature malfunctions. Obviously, quality was sacrificed in a mad rush to get on the ballot. It just added insult to injury that one candidate deemed to be the Quality Guru was included in this bunch; the very candidate the establishment was rallying around. (This, of course, after the initial candidate the establishment was fawning over fell out of favor) The average voters are still chuckling over this fiasco.
THIRD, the AG and SOS nominations at the State Convention. Here is where wisdom and logic should have controlled, straw polls could have been taken so the party would have unified around a singular candidate for each office. Instead, insults were hurled and pandemonium prevailed.
FOURTH, the 11th hour gubernatorial endorsement by DJT. Once he chimed in, the primary race was decided before the horses even crossed the finish line. Who knows who would have won if DJT had held back on an endorsement and instead fully supported whoever the voters chose.
FIFTH, Campaign? What Campaign? Apparently it took the two-door model quite a while to fire up a campaign on the level necessary to demonstrate that she was in fact a strong, viable candidate. But to do that requires not only an effective message and sound strategy (both of which were lacking), but funds. LOTS of funds, which were conspicuous by their absence.
SIXTH, funds, or more accurately the lack thereof. Supposedly the Republican party is the party of the rich, but you wouldn’t have guessed that from the funding that was allotted to the three statewide candidates. It was as if some penny-pinching miser was doling out as few dollars as possible, just to keep up appearances. This stinginess severely hurt the entire statewide ticket.
SEVENTH, the dreaded RINO (not to be confused with the moderate). When a horses ass, such as Joe Schwarz, publicly proclaims his support for the Gretch that killed nursing home residents, his MD license should be revoked. (which won’t happen as long as the jackasses control LARA). Imagine a former Republican elected to state and national office stooping to such a low level. Sickening.
EIGHTH, Outside Interference. Just like 2018, there were ballot proposals engineered and funded by out of state interests. One was geared as a follow-up so as to make our elections virtually open to all who want to vote at least once, even the dead, and make it impossible to trace exactly who voted. Even Brazil is up in arms about such chicanery. The other was based on a hysterical response to the Dobbs decision, and allows abortion, but only up until the eighth month and twenty-ninth day.
Imagine if the Republicans would have removed the Pot Proposal along with the Dead Voter Proposal from the ballot in 2018, tweaking them as much as possible. A LOT of folks who voted for the Three Witches would have stayed home, as they only came out to vote for these ill-conceived plans, and sure as hell weren’t going to vote Republican in the process! Another benefit would have been keeping more control of the redistricting process, the loss of which caused the loss of the House and Senate.
So it looks like the foundation of the Great Calamity of 2022 was constructed in 2018. And all this time you thought it was caused by some guy that owns a few hotels and casinos who moved from New York to Washington, D.C. and now lives in Florida!
The electorate has been brainwashed in the public school system for how many decades now? Ignorance has supplanted education across the spectrum. High schools have dropped Home Economics, Auto Shop, Metal Shop, Wood Shop, Physical Education, Civics, and it’s illegal to teach children ethics, morals, responsible behavior and basic civility. My wife and I were foster parents in the 1990’s and experienced the overwhelming difficulty our education professionals, social workers, probation officers, prosecutors, judges and others involved, faced. Parents are the foundation of society, but if significant numbers of kids are left behind, everyone pays a price. If a fatherless boy has drug dealers, pimps, street hustlers and general miscreants for role models, a moron can predict the results of that. As a state corrections officer in a high security prison for a number of years, I can attest to that. Everyone knows what needs to be done, but the political will to do it doesn’t exist. So, there you have it.
Matt Crehan says
“Everyone knows what needs to be done, but the political will to do it doesn’t exist. So, there you have it.”
Truer words never spoken!
Martha Anne Trafford says
I read your synopsis of the recent Mid-Election results. I agree, you are right on the mark! Very enjoyable to visit with you, Princeton Tiger, this past Sunday. Thanks for your hospitality, and, sharing the Owosso Book with me! You are always welcome in Plymouth, at John’s Law Office.
Nancy Dingeldey says
All very interesting, startling, and clear views of a miserable election outcome. Can’t say I disagree with theirs and Mr. Ballenger’s spot on critique. To those making “the decisions” at the top…it almost seems like they are the only ones that are smart enough to make decisions…what is wrong Republicans? The election was one that will form problems in the coming years by the Dem’s and their despicable playbook. Are we too busy to investigate, question, discuss the issues or are we sheep that go along to get along. Or will we be “good” people and allow those in control to “do as I say, not as I do.”
Dennis C Muchmore says
Interesting Bill and insightful. I took a look at the redistricting numbers provided in May by Mark Grebner (a dyed- in-the-wool activist democrat but also one of the most consistently capable political analysts in the country), and compared the unofficial final totals with his initial party affiliation redistricting numbers. HIs base Dem voting number was within the actual final vote percentage garnered by the Dem candidate by 3 pts. or less with the exception of the R blowouts in the 5th and the 9th. Pretty impressive even for Mark and I knew you’d be interested.
Mark M. Koroi says
The cardinal rule since the 1970s is that an incumbent governor NEVER loses his or her first re-election bid in Michigan. That rule has followed in the re-election bids of Milliken, Blanchard, Engler, Granholm and Snyder.
The Free Press poll that showed Tudor Dixon 11% behind was accurate.
It was stunning that Democrat Kyra Bolden came as close as she did to beating incumbent GOP nominee Brian Zahra in the Michigan Supreme Court race.
There were several bright spots for the GOP in Michigan – one being John James’ razor-thin margin victory over Democrat Carl Marlinga in the newly-created 10th District. Lena Epstein also almost won a University of Michigan Board of Regents seat.
Kevin Hertel’s and Victoria Klinefelt’s victories in Macomb County were huge for Democrats in the Michigan Senate races over Pamela Hornberger and Mike McDonald. On the other hand, Democrat Padma Kuppa lost in her bid to become a state senator.
Overall, a disappointing election for Michigan Republicans and it will be interesting how delegates respond at the upcoming Michigan Republican Convention on Nov. 17th.
Joe Crawford says
How did it happen that the first TV debate between Dixon and Whitmer was not broadcast in Southeast Michigan? Where was the Republican leadership in permitting this to happen? It certainly does lend credence to the contention within the Dixon camp that the party wasn’t helping her candidacy and was even discouraging donors from supporting her.
Chuck Moss says
Excellent analysis! Up to BB’s usual quality. I’d just point to:
1) The Redistrict Commission. Everyone said the Commission was actually stacked for the Ds, and after the election: PRESTO! The House and Senate magically change to Dem! Hey, little buckaroos, who’da thunk?
2) The Black Detroit delegation was livid at the districts, said it would trash African American representation. and it did. Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission? More like Negro Replacement Commission. We’ll see how long the memories are in Detroit.
3) A crack team of Republicans might have stemmed the now-significant structural advantage Democrats have patiently built into Michigan, instead the team was cracked–and that’s just the nominees, Can’t tell if it’s California Level or just Illinois.
4) The new Dem regime sounds like the post-Napoleon French royals: they’ve forgotten nothing and learned nothing. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men aren’t going to put 1960s–’70s Michigan back together again.
A bientot, mes amis!
dan murphy says
Curious of the apparent impt. role” Gen Z’ , under the influence of the China based TicTok , played in determining election results .Also of the role of millions in funding provided by the ultra Leftist FTX (now mysteriously bankrupt” syndicate and the George Soros organization reportedly contributed to the new “Progressive Socialist” party. The Leftist’s primary agenda seeks to be the transformation of the Nation from a Constitutional Republic ,with all of the protections provided by the wisdom of the Founders into a powerful centralized Federal govt ! The phrase ,” protecting democracy” the Orwellian term used by the President ,Their disguise for doing so ??