Tag Archives: Michigan

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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Michigan House Action Wave

Michigan Congressional Redistricting Map. (Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight.com to see interactive map.)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 3, 2022 — Though the Michigan congressional lines are in litigation and filing time is still more than two months away in preparation for the state’s August 2nd primary election, Tuesday was a busy day on the Wolverine State’s US House front.

First, in the paired Republican incumbent 4th District where Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) is seeking re-election and appears ready to face fellow Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), a third candidate announced that he would not abandon his own Republican campaign despite seeing an unfavorable district draw.

State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Portage) said that he intends to remain in the new 4th Congressional District race despite potentially having to face two incumbents and not having any of his current state House District lying in the new 4th. His legislative district will now be fully contained in Rep. Tim Walberg’s (R-Tipton) new 5th CD that stretches the width of Michigan along the state’s southern border. Carra earned former President Trump’s endorsement in his pre-redistricting bid against Rep. Upton.

When queried about the difficulty of the paired nomination race for a non-incumbent such as himself, Carra said, “It doesn’t matter whether there’s one or two status quo Republicans in the race.”

For his part, Rep. Upton is not yet committing to run for a 19th term, saying he wants to further study the new district and see whether the courts disqualify the current map. A group of current and former Democratic state legislators have filed suit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission claiming the members violated the Voting Rights Act with their draw of the congressional and state legislative districts in Detroit and Wayne County.

The 4th District will be one of the most interesting primary campaigns in the state and possibly the nation if Huizenga and Upton ultimately face each other. With Carra coming to the race with the Trump endorsement and potentially testing just how much the ex-President’s support actually means, he becomes a wild card entry.

Another incumbent who did not fare well in the redistricting process is freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids). His 3rd District moves from an R+9 to a D+3 seat according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site. Dave’s Redistricting App scores the CD at 50.1 percent Democratic and 46.5 percent Republican. President Biden would have carried the new 3rd, 53-45 percent. Therefore, Rep. Meijer, along with potential primary problems because he, too, voted in favor of the Trump impeachment, has a difficult political road ahead.

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Rep. Lawrence to Retire;
Open US House Seats Now Up to 44

By Jim Ellis

Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield)

Jan. 7, 2022 — Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) became the latest Democratic incumbent to announce her retirement. She is the 25th Dem to not seek re-election as compared to 11 Republicans.

Saying, “this is the right time to turn the page and spend more time with my family — my husband, daughter, son and granddaughter — and put them first,” Lawrence made official her decision not to seek a fifth term next year. She is 67 years old. Prior to her election to Congress, Lawrence served as Southfield’s mayor for 14 years. She is the only African American in the Michigan delegation and the lone Wolverine State Democrat to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.

It is speculated upon that the new Michigan map influenced her retirement decision, but Rep. Lawrence said she was confident of being able to be re-elected in the new 12th District. Though her home base of Southfield was included in MI-12, the cities of Dearborn, Westland, and the western part of Wayne County would have, for her, been foreign political turf.

In her closing comments to the Detroit Free Press newspaper, Rep. Lawrence said, “I’m incredibly grateful for the people of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District who have placed their trust in me — in me, a little Black girl from the east side of Detroit.”

The Lawrence decision greatly changes the Detroit area congressional campaigns. Immediately upon Rep. Lawrence announcing her retirement plans, neighboring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) declared that she will seek re-election in the 12th District, saying that she currently represents more of this CD than the downtown Detroit-anchored MI-13. This leaves the 13th open and will create a major Democratic primary battle. CD-13 is a majority African American district and heavily Democratic, meaning that winning the party primary is tantamount to election in November.

A group of current and former Detroit state legislators announced Wednesday that they are filing a lawsuit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, saying the new congressional, state Senate, and state House of Representatives’ boundaries discriminate against black voters, and therefore violate the Voting Rights Act. If the lawsuit successfully overturns the Detroit district draws, new mapping instructions could be forced upon the commission before the 2022 election.

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The Open and Collapsed Seats

By Jim Ellis

A look at how things might play out in key states in the redistricting tug of wars

Dec. 2, 2021 — In a redistricting year, tracking the open seats can be a bit confusing. Not only do we record retiring members and those seeking other offices, as we do in every election cycle, but in a redistricting year we also see new seats awarded to states in reapportionment, new districts created through map drawing, and collapsed seats. This, in addition to members being paired and certain incumbents choosing to run in districts other than the one they currently represent.

The open seat numbers have grown significantly during the past month. As a result, we see 24 members leaving their current districts either for retirement or to run for another office. Sixteen are from the majority Democratic conference, with eight coming from their Republican counterparts.

One seat, FL-20, remains in special election cycle and will be filled on Jan. 11. At that point, the House will have its full compliment of 435 members for the first time in this Congress.

Reapportionment changed locations within states for seven congressional seats, and map drawing has added an additional four new seats to date for a total of 11 nationally. The new seats also lead to a commensurate number of incumbent pairings or collapsed districts.

Adding the numbers from all of these categories tells us that 43 House seats have been affected in addition to four members who have declared for seats they don’t currently represent.

The collapsed seats tell their own story. In this category, certain members have nowhere to run, typically in states that lost a seat in reapportionment. In many instances, the member without a place to run is one who had previously indicated that he or she is leaving the House.

In California, the first draft redistricting map shows that Rep. Karen Bass’ (D-Los Angeles) seat would be the one collapsed, because the state is, for the first time in history, losing a district. Bass, however, previously announced that she is running for mayor of Los Angeles, so seeing her seat as the one forfeited was not a surprise.

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) was geographically in a difficult position because the map drawers needed the leftward voters in his district to enhance two adjoining Democratic seats. Therefore, he became the odd man out.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer
Falters in New Polls

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

Sept. 23, 2021 — We have further evidence that the Michigan governor’s race is going to be a highly competitive political contest next year. A pair of new polls, following one in late August, find Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) either in a virtual dead heat with, or trailing, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R).

The Trafalgar Group and Strategic National, Inc. were both in the Michigan field during virtually the same time realm to test the impending governor’s race. Trafalgar (Sept. 13-15; 1,097 likely Michigan voters; live interview, interactive voice response system, online, and text) actually finds the governor slipping behind Craig by a 50-44% count. Strategic National (Sept. 18-19; 600 likely Michigan voters) arrived at a much tighter contest with the governor still in the lead. Their result projected a razor thin 46.6 – 46.0 percent margin.

Gov. Whitmer has become controversial even nationally through her draconian COVID shut down measures, and then being caught on several occasions as eschewing the dictates for herself and family. As the Strategic National poll shows, however, the governor’s favorable and unfavorable opinions are equivalent … and almost everyone feels strongly about their preference.

In terms of her personal favorability index, the responses divide 50:48 percent favorable to unfavorable. The strongly held position, however, spins toward the negative category. Of those who comprise Gov. Whitmer’s 50 percent positive rating, 35 percent, or 70 percent of those professing a positive opinion, feel strongly.

The negative segmentation is more intense. From the 48 percent who hold a negative view of Whitmer, 42 percent, or 87 percent of those holding an adversarial opinion, believe so strongly. Her job approval rating responses, though a different question, yields an almost identical pattern.

The polarization factor is, unsurprisingly, extreme when it comes to the respondents’ opinion about how she’s handled the coronavirus. By a margin of 52:47 percent, the sampling universe approves of her measures to combat the disease. And, in this instance, those feeling strongly on both sides break about evenly.

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