Michigan’s government is under full control by the Democrats.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, one of the brightest stars in the Democratic Party, won re-election in November by double digits. And Whitmer’s convincing top of the ticket victory helped her party take back control of both houses of the state legislature for the first time in four decades.
At the same time, Michigan Republicans appear in turmoil, facing plenty of negative headlines spotlighting political fistfights between the various factions of the cash-strapped state party.
But top Democrats — from Whitmer to longtime Rep. Debbie Dingell — cognizant of their fragile hold on power — push back on talk that Michigan’s a blue state.
Republicans dominated in Michigan elections from 1972 through 1988. But the state became part of ‘blue wall’ that backed Democratic nominees in six straight presidential elections from 1972 through 2012.
Former President Donald Trump changed the equation in 2016, and his narrow flipping of the state helped him win the White House over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. But President Biden captured Michigan by nearly three points in the 2020 election, as he brought Michigan back into the Democrats’ column and denied Trump re-election. Trump’s 2020 defeat in the state were a precursor to GOP’s 2022 setbacks.
“It’s still in the middle but slightly more likely to be on the Democratic side,” Michigan based political scientist Matt Grossmann told Fox News.
Grossman, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, noted that Trump’s success wooing working class voters in 2016 helped the GOP pierce the blue wall.
“Michigan has a lot of the population that has trended towards Republicans nationwide,” Grossman emphasized. And he added that the state’s “unionization rate is going down, which historically had kept the white working class vote closer to the Democrats.”
But the Democrats’ successes in Michigan at the ballot box in 2022 may not be a barometer of things to come in 2024, when the state’s 15 electoral votes (down from 21 in the 1970’s) will be up for grabs in the presidential election and Democrats will be defending an open Senate seat as they try to retain their majority in the chamber.
“The governor’s race may not have been indicative of overall Republican strength in the state and all three of the statewide candidates were very Trumpy and associated with election denial and the sort of the extremes of the GOP,” Grossman said.
And political strategists from both parties also spotlight that abortion won’t be on the ballot again in 2024, after the approval last year of a sweeping amendment to the Michigan constitution that guaranteed the right to abortion and other reproductive health services, and likely also fueled Democratic turnout.
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