Category Archives: MICHIGAN

Michigan Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

April 22, 2022 — Major party candidate filing has now closed in the Wolverine State, and we see some highly competitive contests forming for November.

With no senator on the 2022 ballot, the governor’s race tops the ballot. No fewer than 10 Republicans filed in an attempt to oppose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in the November election. The governor drew no Democratic opposition for the Aug. 2 state primary.

The leading GOP contender appears to be former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, but he must first secure the Republican nomination.

Within the large field, he can expect competition at least from chiropractor and well-known anti-lockdown activist Garrett Soldano, former Berrien County Commissioner and ex-state police captain Mike Brown, and online talk show host Tudor Dixon. The general election yields a race that promises to be one of the top campaigns in the country and polling suggests that the projected Whitmer-Craig contest is already a toss-up.

We will also see serious November competition in most of the state’s 13 congressional districts on a map the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members purposefully drew to feature the maximum number of tight political districts.

In two contests, the major party general election pairings are already set. First District US Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/ Upper Peninsula) must subdue a challenge from Marquette County Medical Director Bob Lorinser (D). In an R+24 district, according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, where the congressman exceeded 61 percent of the vote in 2020, Rep. Bergman becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-election in November.

What began as an incumbent pairing between Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) because the state lost a seat in national reapportionment, is now a general election that will produce little in the way of political suspense.

With Upton recently announcing his retirement and state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo) deciding to exit the congressional race and seek re-election to his current position, those moves have surprisingly left Rep. Huizenga unopposed for re-nomination in the new 4th CD. His general election opponent will be retail banker Joseph Alfonso (D) in a race that should offer only minimal competition for the six-term incumbent.

Reps. John Moolenaar (R-Midland), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Lisa McClain (R-Bruce) face little in the way of competition for both re-nomination and re-election. Rep. Dingell, however, is placed in a new 6th District that contains 44 percent new territory and is without the family’s home base of Dearborn. A member of the Dingell family has represented Dearborn as a part of their district in Congress consecutively since 1933.

Freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) received one of the tougher draws on the new map. His 3rd District, while still anchored in Grand Rapids, moves from an R+9 rating to D+3. He first must secure re-nomination over former Trump Administration official John Gibbs and attorney Gabi Manolache. Meijer then will again face his 2020 opponent, Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten, who held him to a 53-47 percent victory in the more Republican 3rd District version. The new 3rd contains 50 percent new territory for the congressman, including the Democratic city of Muskegon.

Even though Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing) loses her home base, finds herself in a district with 38 percent new territory, and must compete in an R+7 new 7th District, she actually gains a political point when compared to the current 8th District that she now represents. Still, winning re-election with just a 51-47 percent spread and facing tougher Republican competition from state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Lansing) means this race will become a top GOP national target.

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Redistricting-Forced
Contested Pairings

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2022 — Redistricting has largely been responsible for six sets of congressional pairings — that is where two incumbents are forced to compete against each other in one new district. Each party sees three intra-party pairings, with the first being decided in West Virginia on May 10.

New polling was released in the Mountain State contest, which features Reps. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) and Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) battling in a new northern 2nd District. West Virginia lost its third district in national reapportionment, and even though the GOP controls the redistricting pen, the party obviously had to absorb the lost seat since all three current House members are Republicans.

Rep. Mooney, being in the middle district of the original three, always the least advantageous geographical position, had his district split between the northern and southern seat. All but one percent of Rep. McKinley’s current 1st District is contained in new District 2, while just 49 percent of Rep. Mooney’s current 2nd carries over to the new 2nd. All of Rep. Carol Miller’s (R-Huntington) current 3rd District is fully contained within the new 1st as well as 51 percent of Rep. Mooney’s current WV-2.

Two early 2022 surveys, in January from Public Opinion Strategies and February from WPA Intelligence, found similar leads of 45-32 percent and 43-28 percent for Rep. Mooney. This week, however, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce released their North Star Opinion Research survey (March 13-15; 400 WV-2 likely voters) and their results found Rep. McKinley rebounding to record a 38-33 percent edge. With polling showing a tightening of the race, we can expect a close finish in what should be regarded as a toss-up campaign.

Georgia

The Georgia Democrat pairing between Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) and Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) in the new Atlanta suburban 7th CD looks to be leaning toward the latter woman even though she sees a very low constituent carryover factor from her current 6th District.

This race will likely be decided on May 24, but since Georgia is a runoff state, there is always the mathematical possibility that the minor candidates could force a secondary election because their combined vote could be enough to keep both major contenders from reaching the 50 percent plateau.

An early January Data for Progress survey found Rep. McBath holding a nine point lead, 40-31 percent, despite the fact that only 12 percent of the new 7th comes from Rep. McBath’s 6th, as compared to 57 percent of the new population base who currently live in Rep. Bourdeaux’s district. On the other hand, McBath is much stronger with the regional Democratic base voter than is Bourdeaux.

Michigan

Two other paired contests are even tighter. Though the Michigan Democratic pairing between Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) won’t be decided until the Aug. 2 Democratic primary, two recently released surveys already detect a dead heat.

Lake Research Partners released data from their Feb. 15-20 survey that found the two Democratic members tied with 36 percent support apiece. Earlier in the month, Target Insyght found an almost identical conclusion from their ballot test question, with Reps. Stevens and Levin tied at 41 percent. In January, Impact Research released their study that posted Rep. Stevens to a seven-point advantage, 42-35 percent.

In this situation, Rep. Stevens sees a 45 percent carryover factor from her current 11th District, while Rep. Levin will have only 25 percent of his current 9th District constituency in the new 11th.

In Congressman Levin’s favor, however, is home base status. The Bloomfield Township region, which provided the base vote for his father, Sander Levin, whose career in the House lasted 36 years, and his uncle, the late Sen. Carl Levin who served his own 36 years in Congress, is fully intact within the new 11th. Conversely, Stevens’ home precincts within the Rochester Hills area are not included in the new 11th. This likely gives Levin the advantage of having the more driven supporters, which matters greatly in a lower turnout primary election.

Illinois

Turning to Illinois, in a race that will be settled in the June 28 primary, Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and freshman Marie Newman (D-La Grange) also appear locked in a tight battle for political survival in the western Chicago suburbs. Unlike all the other paired districts that are safe for the winning paired member, the IL-6 CD could become a general election battleground.

In the new 6th, Rep. Newman sees more of her constituents comprising the new district, as just over 41 percent of her current 3rd District voters will be present in the new 6th. This number compares favorably to Rep. Casten’s constituent carryover factor of just 23.5 percent coming from the current 6th. Like in the aforementioned Michigan pairing, one member’s home base is within the district, in this case Casten’s, while the other, Newman’s La Grange region, is not.

Also, as in two of the other pairings, we see an early cycle even split between the two candidates. According to a Victoria Research Feb. 10-15 survey, the two House members were tied at 37 percent apiece.

No polling data is available for the other two pairings — the Illinois Republican battle between Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) in the new 15th CD, and Michigan Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) in their state’s new District 4.

Davis has the advantage with the establishment Republicans while Rep. Miller, with former President Trump’s endorsement, is the ideological base vote favorite.

Despite running more than $200,000 in ads for the upcoming primary, Michigan Rep. Upton still says he has not yet committed to running again. He has until the April 19 candidate filing deadline to make a final decision. Upton has the geographical advantage in the new 4th (64 percent carryover to 25 percent), but Huizenga has the Trump endorsement and is stronger with the ideological base.


House redistribution statistics can be found on the Daily Kos Elections website.

Redistricting After-Effects

Click the map above or this link to go to an interactive version: Dave’s Redistricting App

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 24, 2022 — As more states complete their redistricting process and additional data becomes available, we are beginning to catch a glimpse of each party’s path to either keeping or re-claiming the House majority in the coming midterm election.

The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization along with the Dave’s Redistricting App operation are the two data groups that are charting each district as the states complete their decennial task of drawing new congressional district boundaries.

At this point, we have usable projection data from the two organizations in 350 of the nation’s 435 congressional districts, meaning newly completed maps in all but eight states. (FiveThirtyEight has not yet analyzed the new North Carolina map because the court has not yet given final approval, but Dave’s App has calculated based upon the version now before the judicial panel.) As an aside, several of the outstanding states are large, including Florida (28 congressional districts), Ohio (15 CDs: map was complete but rejected before the state Supreme Court), and Pennsylvania (17 CDs).

At this point we can see, after analyzing each of the 350 completed districts, that redistricting in and of itself will return only a narrow advantage to one party or the other. Considering the still incomplete outstanding states, it is unclear which political entity may earn a slight advantage once the entire process is finalized. Currently, newly created maps are complete (or pending court approval) in 42 states, including five of the six at-large domains whose single-state districts are included in the aforementioned aggregate number.

The FiveThirtyEight projections and Dave’s Redistricting App agree on party advantage in 344 of the completed districts even though they used different mathematical formulas and election complexion to arrive at their conclusions. Therefore, the assigned D or R-plus ratings from FiveThirtyEight consistently align with Dave’s numerical projections for Democratic and Republican strength in each of the 344 CDs.

Of the six districts where the two organizations disagree over party advantage, in each of the half-dozen CDs, the FiveThirtyEight data has projected a stronger Republican number. Three of the six lie in the state of Michigan.

The conflicting districts are:

STATE-DIST MEMBER FiveThirtyEight DAVE R DAVE D
CO-8 NEW SEAT            R+3 46.91% 48.24%
MI-7 SLOTKIN, ELISSA            R+4 47.75% 49.18%
MI-8 KILDEE, DAN            R+1 46.05% 50.84%
MI-10 CREATED SEAT            R+6 47.82% 49.44%
TX-15 CREATED SEAT            EVEN 46.73% 51.02%
VA-2 LURIA, ELAINE            R+6 48.35% 49.58%

(Note: a “New Seat” is one drawn in a state that was awarded an extra seat, or two in the case of Texas, through national reapportionment. A “created seat” is a new open district that came as a result of the redistricting process.)

Totaling the 344 districts where FiveThirtyEight and the Dave’s App are in agreement as to party advantage, the Democrats would gain 12 Republican, new, or created districts; while the GOP would gain 10 Democratic, new, or created seats.

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The Redistricting Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

In the trifecta of political parties controlling the House, Senate and Executive branches in a state, how many will really benefit from that power in the redistricting process?

Feb. 11, 2022 — There has been quite a bit of redistricting news surfacing during the past few weeks, with many analysts now reversing their earlier predictions about which party is the clear beneficiary from the re-draw process.

Most said early that the Republicans would benefit the most from redistricting and that map drawing alone would be enough to allow the party to reclaim the House majority. We, on the other hand, were showing that the cut would more than likely be about equal even though the GOP has a major advantage in trifecta states, that is, those where one party controls all three legs of the legislative stool, meaning the state Senate, state House, and the governor’s office.

Though the Republicans control 25 states outright from a redistricting perspective compared to the Democrats’ 15, the number of states where each can draw maps to expand their party’s congressional delegation really comes down to seven where Republicans control and a commensurate four for the Democrats.

What balances the process this year is that Republicans appear to have have only one state where they can gain multiple seats — North Carolina — while Democrats can run the table, and have, in two big states, New York and Illinois.

Where both parties suffer in their trifecta states is the number of places where they already control the maximum number of seats, or redistricting power has been transferred to a commission. Either one party already has all the seats in a state like the Democrats do in Massachusetts and the Republicans have in Arkansas, for example, or the state has only one at-large member.

In one place, West Virginia, even though the Republicans have a legislative trifecta, they will drop a seat post election. Currently, the West Virginia delegation consists of three Republicans, but the state loses a seat in national reapportionment. Therefore, the GOP majority had no choice but to collapse one of their own districts.

Articles are now appearing that suggest it is the Democrats who could end the redistricting process with a net seat advantage rather than the Republicans. This, as it has been from the beginning, is true.

In looking at the states once all 50 have adopted new congressional lines, it projects today that the Republicans would add approximately 13 seats, while the Democrats, with multiple seat additions in Illinois and New York, would gain 11 new members. Seven states remain undecided because their level of political competition is predicted to be intense.

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Alabama Map Ruling Stayed; Redistricting Update

By Jim Ellis

Alabama redistricting map (Click on the map above or go to DavesRedistricting.org to see interactive map)

Feb. 9, 2022 — On a 5-4 vote, the US Supreme Court voted to stay the lower court ruling that invalidated the new Alabama congressional map. A Republican three-judge panel had ruled that a second majority minority district could have been drawn among the state’s seven congressional districts, and thus disqualified the plan on Jan. 23.

Writing a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated that the lower court decision was made too close to the 2022 election, meaning that the judicial process would not have proper time to hear the appeal and make an educated ruling prior to the state’s scheduled primary election. The ruling does not mean the appeal was granted, but merely postpones hearing the case to a later date.

Analysts say the stay ensures that the original map will be in place for this year’s election. It does not mean, however, that the map won’t be altered for the 2024 election and beyond.

The new plan is virtually an extension of the current map, which elected six Republicans and one Democrat in the 2020 election. It was a curious original decision, not only because the judges that ruled against the GOP map drawers were appointed by former President Donald Trump (2) and the late President Ronald Reagan (1), but that the same map footprint stood unencumbered for the past 10 years.

The major change made from the current map to the new draw came in the 7th CD, which is the Voting Rights district. The legislature, however, had no choice but to make a substantial change. AL-7 was 53,143 people short of reaching the state’s congressional district population quota of 717,754 individuals.

The previous ruling also postponed the Jan. 28 candidate filing deadline for the Alabama US House candidates. Those running for all other offices have now already filed and been qualified for the respective party primary ballots. The congressional candidates will now file on Feb. 11.

Redistricting Notes

• Summarizing the legal action in other states, the North Carolina map has been disqualified and the legislature will now return to redraw the congressional and state legislative maps. As has been the case throughout the previous decade, the partisan Republican legislature and the partisan Democratic state Supreme Court continue to go back and forth over the issue of partisan gerrymandering.

• The lower court ruling in Michigan rejected the Detroit area Democratic current and former state legislators’ claim that the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members violated the Voting Rights Act in drawing the city of Detroit’s congressional and state legislative maps. Unless an appeal is granted, the new Michigan maps will stand for this year’s elections.

• The Kansas legislature adjourned without voting to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of the state’s congressional map. The hasty adjournment move, however, allows the legislature to reconsider the veto override. Without a successful override vote, the map will go to the courts for a redrawing of the Kansas City metro area.

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