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Michigan

Key for 2020 Presidential and Redistricting

Donald Trump Won Michigan by Just 11,000 Votes in 2016. The DeVos family is extremely influential in Michigan, and now in Washington.

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Strategy

The top priorities in Michigan:

1.    Win the Governor's race to break Republican control of state government and give Democrats a fair shot at redistricting. Without a Democratic Governor, Michigan will almost certainly remain gerrymandered in favor of Republicans through 2030;

2.    Take control of the State House over the next two cycles;

3.    Pass the proposal 2 ballot initiative to ensure fair Congressional redistricting in 2021;

4.    Break a 5-2 Republican supermajority on the State Supreme Court, which could decide redistricting boundaries in case of disagreement or legal challenges;

5.    Break Republican supermajority in State Senate (the next opportunity won’t come until 2022);

6.    Elect a Democrat as Secretary of State to safeguard voter registration efforts through the next Presidential election.

Michigan’s state government has been under the control of Republicans for the last eight years, with GOP majorities in the State House and State Senate and a Republican Governor in Rick Snyder. Democrats can flip a 63-47 Republican majority in the State House in 2018, and can break a Republican supermajority (27-11) in the State Senate. There are plenty of opportunities here, with 11 term-limited Republicans in the State House and another 19 in the State Senate; Democrats need 9 seats to take control of the State House and 3 seats to end the GOP Senate supermajority.

The State Supreme Court consists of 7 elected judges, and two Republican judges are up for re-election in 2018. If Democrats can win these seats in 2018 and pick up another in 2020, they will have a majority on the court in time for the 2021 redistricting process. Democrats in State Supreme Court races are typically underfunded; in 2016, two Republicans routed Democratic candidates thanks to a 34-to-1 spending advantage (Democrats were outspent 3-to-1 in 2014).

Political landscape

A Republican Trifecta - Thanks to the Devos Family

Michigan’s overall population is slowly recovering after a decade of sizable losses. These population shifts have changed the political landscape in the state, particularly in traditionally Democratic areas like Detroit (which has lost 29% of its population since 2010). The number of African-American voters has been on the decline for the last 14 years, and white working class voters now account for 45% of Michigan’s electorate.

Despite these population and voter changes, Michigan voters still tend to support Democrats on a statewide basis; Democratic legislative candidates received more than 18,000 more votes than Republicans in 2016. The state legislature is disproportionately Republican, however, because of gerrymandering in the 2011 redistricting process. Donald Trump won Michigan by three-tenths of one percent in 2016, marking the first time since 1988 that a Republican candidate captured the state.

Michigan’s State Supreme Court consists of 7 judges who are each elected to 8-year terms; the current court makeup consists of a 5-2 Republican majority. The General Election ballot is “nonpartisan,” but political parties nominate Supreme Court candidates and Michigan’s Governor appoints replacement judges whenever there is a vacancy. Two judges who were appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder must stand for re-election in 2018, giving Democrats an opportunity to move one seat away from majority control of the state court (Democrats can take majority control in 2020 if successful this fall).

The 2018 election is the only chance for Democrats to break a Republican supermajority in the State Senate, since many of these seats won’t be up again until 2022.

Top issues in Michigan in 2018 include a focus on water quality (the water crisis in Flint has made national headlines for several years); economic insecurity, including wage stagnation and income disparity; and health care access and affordability.

Redistricting

Republicans fail in legal effort to stop citizen ballot initiative
Michigan is one of the most heavily Gerrymandered States

Thanks to gerrymandering, Michigan’s government has been under one-party Republican control for the entire decade. Consider 2016: Democrats in legislative races received 18,000 more total votes than Republicans but are swamped by Republican majorities in both chambers. 

The 2018 election is key to creating a fair redistricting process in Michigan in 2021. The number one priority is to pass the Proposal 2 ballot initiative. Republicans have fought this in the courts and lost on July 30th. Under Proposal 2, the Secretary of State selects the redistricting commissionors. Please support Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State.

If some cases in the redistricting process, the State Supreme Court can ultimately decide on the makeup of the next district maps; Democrats can gain majority control of the State Supreme Court with victories in 2018 and 2020, just in time for the next redistricting process. 

Follow the $$

Individual limits for campaigns in Michigan are $6,800 for statewide candidates, $2,000 for State Senate, and $1,000 for State House. There are no contribution limits to state legislative races if made through the Party Caucus PAC. 

A complete matrix of spending limits is available HERE.

Outside Spending is Extremely Important

Total outside spending in Michigan is difficult to consolidate, since Dark Money in Michigan is not reported directly (although a portion is identified through legacy media spending on television and radio).

Both statewide and legislative races have a very high level of outside non-campaign spending. According to an America Votes analysis of spending in 15 battleground House Districts in 2016, approximately 65% of the $9 million spent came from outside organizations. Outside money accounted for 84% of the total media spending for Republican candidates, compared to just 45% for Democrats. Republican candidates are able to spend less time raising money for media spending, which gives them a significant campaign advantage over Democrats.

The 2014 Michigan Governor’s race is another example of the heavy impact of outside spending:

US House Seats

Democrats hold both U.S. Senate seats in Michigan, but thanks to redistricting, Republicans control 9 of the state’s 14 Congressional districts.

Democrats have a number of pickup opportunities in the U.S. House, with MI-8 a prime example. Trump won this district by 5.7 points in 2016; this year MI-8 looks to be a toss-up race. Democrats have a great candidate in Elissa Slotkin.  

In 2016, outside spending by Republicans in this district approached $750,000 (or half of Republican Mike Bishop’s total campaign budget).

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