Midterms elections are less than two weeks away — and the Michigan governorship is up for grabs.
Because incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder cannot run for a third term, his seat will either fall to current Republican Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette or his opponent, former Democratic state legislator Gretchen Whitmer.
At the same time, incumbent senator Democrat Debbie Stabenow faces Republican nominee John James, who is backed by President Donald Trump, in a much-hyped race that will help determine whether the Republicans will maintain their slim Senate majority.
Meanwhile, all 14 of Michigan’s congressional districts are looking at the prospect of upheaval. Following Trump’s surprising victory in the typically blue Michigan in the 2016 presidential election, the state has become a battleground, and many are looking to it as a test marker for how lasting the Republican surge really was.
Professor of Politics Adam Carrington said the governor’s race is particularly tight, but he believes that Whitmer has the edge over Schuette. Right now, Whitmer leads Schuette by about nine points, according to a RealClearPolitics poll.
“One thing Whitmer has done well is appeal to union voters, and she has tried to intentionally cultivate them, whereas the national Democratic platform has ignored that voting block,” Carrington said. “In a state like Michigan, that’s important for success.”
Carrington added that he believes it is unlikely that James will beat Stabenow, even with the Trump administration’s fervent support of him, and his military-turned-businessman background. According to a RealClear Politics poll, Stabenow leads James by a little more than 17 points.
“In some ways, James is a very old-style Republican,” Carrington said. And that may be part of it: He hasn’t been able to excite the Trump voters who would have gone for Obama. And Stabenow, she’s just a decent and capable politician.”
This particular Senate race could have been crazy, Carrington said.
“I have always wondered what a Kid Rock candidacy would have looked like,” he said, referencing the rumors in 2017 that the rap-rock legend would be running for Stabenow’s seat — a marketing trick which briefly put Kid Rock in the national spotlight.
But in general, Carrington said, typically Democratic districts that went for Trump in 2016 will likely roll back closer to their original Democratic voting habits.
“And this will likely happen in the other typically Democrat states Trump won in 2016,” he said.
Student groups have been actively campaigning on both sides of the aisle this season. College Democrats will host a phone banking party for Whitmer on Oct. 26, and the group will also be canvassing for her on Nov. 3.
“Our club hosts a variety of opinions, but speaking for myself, the blue wave is by no means an inevitability,” College Democrats President Madeline Hedrick said of the Democrat hopes this year. “It requires the vote and the work of everyone who cares about correcting the moral and literal corruption of the federal government.”
College Republicans have also been hosting phone banks, as well as canvassing for many Republicans throughout the state. The club recently sent members to knock on doors, supporting James’s senate bid and representative Tim Walberg’s congressional reelection campaign.
“We are incredibly optimistic about the midterms despite the political climate of the day,” College Republicans president Aiden Wheeler said. “We are proud to say that we played a part in the 2018 grassroots campaign to get Michigan voters out for the GOP.”