Until I get a close look at all of the municipalities themselves, I can’t get a real good read on most of the races. One of the exceptions is in Northern Michigan (called Up North locally) because of its rural character.
While the Republicans massacred the democrats this year throughout the country, no where was it more of a route than Up North. People who don’t know Michigan politics assume that because North Michigan is mostly rural, it is republican. No. It varies. The Lake Michigan coast in the Lower Peninsula are largely Gerry Ford types (With Traverse City itself leaning democrat, not as much as its reputation). The Northern Lower interior is very Conservative and mostly Republican north of Roscommon (Energy, middle class retirees) The Sunrise coast is a swing area (with Alpena leaning democrat) with its social conservative and labor influence. Roscommon Southeast to Northern Bay County is labor influenced (Corrections, retirees) and leans conservative democrat. The Western UP leans slightly democrat outside of Houghton area. The Eastern UP leans slightly Republican. The Marquette area is strongly democrat. The Menominee/Escanaba area swings with a slight democrat lean.
Not this time. Marquette, Alger, and Gogebic County (with Chippewa for McDowell only) are the only democrat counties this time in Northern Michigan. Why is this important statewide when the area has maybe 10% of the population? The reason is the number of normally competitive seats Up North. A plurality of our pickups were up North. Some of our best defenses were also up north. Ten seats there are realistically winnable by either party. That’s enough to flip control of either chambers in most years.
The UP results were most surprising to me. The yellow dogs are no more. They are either full ticketsplitters on the whole ticket or are now part of the Republican base. It is too early to consider them the base. It will take at least 8-10 years for that determination to happen. They gave the GOP a chance. Don’t blow it. What shocked me is that we took five UP based seats from the democrats. MI-01 wasn’t a surprise except for the margin. McDowell’s old seat was a matter of time, but largely due to Emmet County being a base county. Nerat’s seat was winnable. The old Lahti/Rich Brown was until recently what I call good enough to lose. It’s enough to suck you into thinking we’ll win, but was out of reach. Then there’s what is now Casperson’s win against the 2nd strongest democrat in the UP not named Stupak. That was a base seat for the democrats. The UP minus two Republican leaning counties.
The First District (MI-01) set the tale of the day. Dr. Dan Benishek beat McDowell by 10%. I thought this would be about 3%.
One other lesson here is the futility of 3rd party candidates to be anything more than a protest vote. Glenn Wilson was supposed to be a very strong 3rd party candidate. He didn’t get a majority of the 3rd party vote (did get plurality). 3rd party votes were high, but totaled slightly over 7%. In order for 3rd party votes to be a threat, it must reach 30%. Wilson was held under 4% despite some democrats openly campaigning for him with conservatives. This race proves that like it or not, it’s a two party system with some protest votes. If you are looking to change things, the only to do it is through the two party system.
I said that Dr Dan had to do better than normal in his home area (Western UP), the old Stupak home base, and the Sunrise coast to win. That’s to offset McDowell’s district advantage in the district in the Eastern UP and Emmet County, which is a GOP base county he’s won in the past. McDowell won Marquette County, Alger County, and Gogebic County where just about any democrat can win. He won Chippewa County, but lost Mackinac County. He was also demolished on the sunrise coast. This was an easiser than expected win for Dr Dan.
The big surprise was the 38th District which is solidly democrat downticket……until now. Former State Rep Tom Casperson beat who I expected to be a very strong Western UP candidate in Mike Lahti for the ticket. It wasn’t close either. Casperson won everywhere except Marquette and Gogebic Counties. Even the western UP went for Casperson. Like Dr Dan’s race, it was a 10 point win.
The 36th district is usually competitive when open, but not even close this year. Moolenaar won almost 2-1 and won every county, even Andy Neumann’s home county, Alpena.
The 110th was usually good enough to lose. Houghton tilts Republican sometimes, but Iron and Gogebic usually combine to offset any possible advantage. Not this time. 11pt victory. I’m not sure when the last time the GOP won the district. They came close in 2000.
108th was starting to be a swing district, but the dems took it back recently when Casperson ran for Congress. Judy Nerat took the open seat. I thought this could be competitive, but I did not expect a 20 pt loss.
I expected the 107th to flip, but not a 2-1 margin.
The 106th was a shock to me. It was another district which was “good enough to lose.” Alpena and Presque Isle counties are usually solidly democrat down ticket. Peter Pettalia won Alpena by 14pts which makes this a 20pt win. Andy Neumann and Matt Gillard had this district for years.
|71 PRESQUE ISLE||2,489||2,494||403||5,386||46.21%||46.31%||7.48%|
The 103rd district tilts slightly republican at the top of the ticket, but they love the Sheltrowns, at least Dale and Joel. Van couldn’t win this seat however. I didn’t expect this to be a 25pt win, nor every county going republican here.
The 101st. District nearly flipped in 2006, and did flip in 2008. Both times, Dan Scripps was the democrat. He lost after one term in a 2008 rematch. This was close, but the top of the ticket likely carried Ray Franz past the finish line, just as Obama carried Scripps.
The 97th was expected to be a tough defense. Jennifer Elkins won in 2002 for the dems. She lost to Tim Moore who won three terms and left it open. This wasn’t close. Every county is competitive here most years, not this one.
It was a massacre, and is a big reason why the house flipped and the senate stayed in GOP was because of the results up north.