Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Here's the current score. 0-0. All of the state level seats are up for contest, except some trustee and judicial seats.
We're playing offense on the state house a mix of offense and defense on the state senate, as well as the statewide and congressional seats. All of the areas are important, but there are a few counties to keep an eye on for the seats in play.
1. Parts of the UP, particularly Chippewa, Mackinac, Delta, Menominee, Dickinson, and Iron Counties. Those are competitive counties, but three seats, maybe four or five if we're super lucky, are in play up there. Dan Benishek in MI-01, Tom Casperson for State Senate in the 38th district, and possibly three state rep seats up there, although I think we have a good chance at one of them. Iron County leans slightly democrat, but Benishek is from there. Chippewa and Mackinac slightly Republican, but McDowell's from there. The triangle of Menominee, Dickinson, and Delta counties swing the UP, and will be the biggest factor in who wins this congressional district. I think Beniskek wins this seat narrowly. 49-47-5 for 3rd parties.
2. Kent County. We have a tough defense for state senate here and a darkhorse defense for Ehlers seat. Some of the old time Kent County establishment Republicans are often "different" and are much more liberal (outside the life issue) than the average population. It's not an accident than Kent County local government has been one of the five most anti-gun counties in the state. The establishment there is rather hostile to small l libertarianism. That is making it more difficult than the past for this defense. I think this year though was the right year for a principled libertarian-conservative like Justin Amash. He's getting a battle in the general, although his convincing primary win sent a strong message to the establishment there. The people are in charge, not the self-proclaimed elite. I think Amash wins by 10-15% (my gut feeling, no poll evidence). It's not Ehlers numbers, but it'll be in line with an average top of the ticket (Snyder should do better here - 25% win there since he'll get the Ehlers type votes as well as conservatives because of Virg). I think 08's an aberration. I do think Amash does better in Barry and Ionia County though, than Kent County. We need a 60% win though for Johnson and Schuette.
3. Jackson County. Jackson County is what I'd classify as conservative independent. It's important statewide. It's populist, socially conservative, and distrustful of both big government and big business. It has both democrat strongholds (City of Jackson) and republican strongholds (Spring Arbor), but even in those strongholds, there's a lot of independents. As Jackson County goes, usually so does the 7th Congressional district. Jackson voted against the incumbent in 2006 primary and in 2008. Can Walberg win back Jackson County? If he does, he'll likely win. If not, Schauer will survive. There's also two key state rep districts based in Jackson County. Those will be key if the GOP is taking back the house. 55%+ would be real good.
4. Monroe County. It's a swing County that voted for Gore, Posthumus, Bush, Granholm, and Obama. Dingell's won there with big margins as well. If Dr Rob Steele (best candidate in a long time) is going to upset Dingell, he'll need to get big numbers in this part of the district, probably close to 60%. There's also two potentially competitive state rep districts here too. It's a must win county statewide. 53% would be real good.
5. Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, Waterford, Royal Oak, Clawson. Those are all key in Oakland County. If Royal Oak and West Bloomfield are close (I expect them to stay dem, but to what degree), we could be looking at blowouts and you can say an early congratulations to Congressman Rocky, and one if not two new GOP state reps. If Farmington Hills and Clawson is close (if they're going GOP, Rocky wins), it could be a long night with potential recounts, but promising results for Rocky (he'll need big help from Troy then). If Waterford is more populist and close, but has trended GOP lately outside of the 06/08 disasters. I'd like to see a win in Farmington Hills, 46%+ in West Bloomfield, 54%+ in Waterford, 46%+ in Royal Oak, and a win in Clawson. I think any of those will assure a pickup.
6. Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, St Clair Shores. Those are three of the key areas in Macomb County. Those will determine who wins Macomb County overall, and in Clinton Twp's case, probably who'll take the state. There's three, maybe four if lucky, competitive state rep districts there. There's a fifth competitive seat in North Macomb that was lost in the 2008 clustermuck (Despite McCain winning the district). That one should be ours. I'd like to see 53%+ in S. Heights, and a win of any margin in Clinton Township and St Clair Shores
7. Lake Michigan Coast - Can we stop the 06/08 bleeding there. If so, bye Dan Scripps. Those should be 54%+ GOP counties from Oceana up to Leelanau. Benzie's the toughest.
8. Thumb, especially Tuscola and Huron Counties - This conservative populist area is extremely independent and loyal to no party. Even some 60% GOP areas at the top of the ticket will ticket split. Sanillac County's rep should flip with locally popular Espinoza termed out. Mike Green is the best candidate for the state senate district. He'll have to rack up big numbers in the thumb to counter Bay County, home of the populist socially moderate democrats. Green (best) can exceed Mayes (good) on the gun issue, and he's also carried a union card. This may be a pickup. We may take Terry Brown's seat as well, although that won't be easy. Like the sunrise coast and the UP, the top of the ticket doesn't tell the story here.
9. Western/Southernmost Wayne County. Two state senate seats and three state rep seats are up for grabs. Keep an eye on Canton Twp (Swings), Van Buren Twp (Dem leaning), Plymouth (city swings, Twp GOP), Northville, Wayne (dem, but by how much), Westland (dem, by how much), Garden City (dem, by how much) Livonia (slight GOP lean), Trenton (slight dem), Huron Twp (swing) and Gibraltar (slight dem). If any of those "dem by how much" areas are close or slight dem areas flipping, there will be some pickups. I'd like to see 54%+ in Canton, any win in Van Buren Twp, 60%+ in Plymouth Twp, 52%+ in Plymouth City, 60%+ in Northville, 42%+ in Wayne, 43%+ in Westland, 48%+ in Garden City, 55%+ in Livonia, any win in Trenton, 52%+ in Huron Twp, and any win in Gibralter.
10. Sunrise Coast - There's a string of swing counties from Presque Isle and Alpena down the Lake Huron Coast and over to the Saginaw Bay/West Branch area. Clare and Roscommon Counties aren't part of this area geographically, but are attached to the state rep districts here and are similar in politics. Populist. We have a tough defense (Tim Moore's open seat) and a longshot (due to the Sheltrown name) pickup opportunity here, along with the Alpena based open seat that's been close but democrat for several years. There's a darkhorse defense for state senate as well that I'm not ready to put in the safe column yet.
11. Isabella County. Probably on paper, our toughest state rep defense. Mt Pleasant is soldly dem, and the surrounding area is marginally republican. Any win in Isabella County is a positive. Rural Midland gives us a small cushion to work with for the state rep district.
12. Rural Washtenaw County. Implications for Tim Walberg, Dr Rob Steele, and an open state rep seat which is a tough offense. The swing townships in Walberg's district are Northfield, Manchester, Saline (city), Sylvan, and Dexter. Scio is a democrat stronghold, and Salem a Republican one. If the swing areas go our way along with big numbers in Manchester (or losses cut in Scio Twp), we have a shot at picking up the Byrnes seat, along with a sure thing with the Walberg seat as this is his weaker area.
13. Eaton County - Very difficult to read. Blue steak in 02, 06, and 08, but a red streak in 2004. A lot of state workers live here, although it's much more conservative socially than Ingham County next door. However, it's got a strong labor streak. The state rep district is a potentially tough defense, and Walberg's economic libertarianism didn't sell here twice, although his social views are more of a positive here outside of maybe Delta Township. This will be interesting to watch.
14. Van Buren County - Classic Swing County with state rep, state senate, and statewide implications. Must win for all of them.
15. Saginaw, Bay, Clinton, St Clair, Counties. If democrats lose Saginaw and Bay Counties (Dem lean, not overwhelmingly so), it's over before it starts. If the GOP loses Clinton and St Clair Counties (GOP lean, not overwhelmingly so), it's over before it starts.
Locally, Hamburg Township, City of Howell, Green Oak Township, Putnam Township, City of Brighton. If the democrats want to take any commissioner or state rep seats, they'll have to win all of those areas and win them big (better than 06 or 08). Not this year. If Cindy Denby keeps it even, let alone a win, in Howell City, Putnam Township, or Hamburg Township (marginal areas), it's over. Post won't break 40% in the Fowlerville or Hartland areas. $30,000+ down the drain for Post. Same goes for Tianen in Putnam Twp who won't come close in Marion Township. I've only seen one McBride sign in Green Oak at the home of democrat activists. Jack LaBelle doesn't campaign much, but people have voted for him for years, and he gets a lot of crossover and independent votes, which is important in marginal Green Oak. I haven't seen anything in the Hamburg commissioner district, and that's the least Republican. Kelly Raskauskas is running an aggressive race, but even in the Obama year, that was a 55% GOP district (62%+ in 04) due to most of Genoa Township in that district. I think this will be Irene Cahill v Bill Rogers 2.0 (from 2002) in results. As someone who has lived most of his life in that district, I called that race a pipedream in May. I still think it is.
Countywide, I'll be quite unhappy if Bill Schuette and Ruth Johnson don't break 63%. Around that number is a magic number for statewide wins. I'd like to see Denby and both of the Rogers brothers to break 65%, and I expect a clean sweep of the commissioner seats. I thought two districts were winnable for the dems this year, but their strongest candidates are in two of the stronger GOP districts. Morris is probably the strongest as a candidate (probably most electable of the bunch), but his district is one of the two most GOP. Raskauskas is the 2nd strongest (Best organized, but not moderate enough). If either ran in Hamburg, I'd be concerned. Still, I wouldn't grade their electability in the range of the late Jake Donahue (who won), Robert Reddinger (who almost won in a conservative area), or even in Matt Evans range (ran ahead of the top of the ticket). Garry Post concerned me with his money. A moderate like Matt Evans or most of all, Robert Reddinger with $40,000 to spend and Raskauskas's organizational ability wouldn't concern me. It would scare me, especially if they kept Judy Daubenmeier in check.
Countywide, 63% is the magic number to watch for the statewide seats. We'll be in good shape to win if that's the number.