As 2018 begins, I would like to make some predictions about the upcoming elections this year. Michigan will be voting on all of its state executive and legislative officials, its U.S. Representatives, and one U.S. Senate seat, in addition to numerous other state and local positions. Anything could happen, but here’s what I think will happen.
U.S. Representatives from Michigan: Republicans lose one seat
Michigan’s Congressional delegations currently consists of 9 Republican Representatives, 5 Democrat Representatives, and 2 Democrat Senators. Most of the races will not be competitive, with the incumbent party maintaining control of those seats. Bill Huizenga (R-2nd), Justin Amash (R-3rd), John Moolenaar (R-4th), Dan Kildee (D-5th), Fred Upton (R-6th), Paul Mitchell (R-10th), Debbie Dingell (D-12th), and Brenda Lawrence (D-14th) should all win reelection handily.
John Conyers (D-13th) has resigned, but the Democratic nominee will undoubtedly succeed him. Jack Bergman (R-1st), Tim Walberg (R-7th), and Mike Bishop (R-8th) will certainly have competitive races, but they will run on their records and win. The Democrats will have a competitive race in the 9th District, where Sander Levin is retiring, but they will keep that seat, too.
The least predictable race is in the 11th District, where incumbent Republican Dave Trott is retiring. His race was the closest Michigan Congressional race in 2016, and could prove even more competitive this November. However, I am going to guess that the Democrats motivate their base to turn out and flip the 11th District in their favor.
Michigan Legislature: Democrats gain, but stay in minority
Every two years, Michigan votes on all of its state House of Representatives seats. Although they gained 3 seats in 2016, the Republicans will lose 3 seats to the Democrats in November. This means that they will still maintain a majority, with 60 Representatives to the Democrats’ 50. Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) will become Speaker of the House.
Every four years, Michigan holds elections for all of its state Senate seats. Michigan Republicans currently hold a 27-11 majority. It has been a long time since the Democrats have held majority in the Senate, and that won’t change in November. However, they will gain 3 seats, leaving the GOP with a 24-14 majority.
Michigan Supreme Court: No changes
Numerous state Judgeships will be voted on this year, including two Michigan Supreme Court Justices. Justices Kurtis Wilder and Elizabeth Clement, both recent Snyder appointees, will be up for reelection to an eight-year term. Although judicial positions are on the nonpartisan section of the ballot, candidates are nominated by political parties. Because the title of “Justice” appears on the ballot, incumbents rarely lose judicial elections. Wilder and Clement will easily win maintaining the Republican -nominated Justices’ 5-2 advantage on the highest state court.
Michigan Secretary of State: Grot loses to Benson
Republicans have held the Michigan Secretary of State’s office since 1995, and popular incumbent Ruth Johnson is term-limited. Democrats currently only have Jocelyn Benson running for the position; the Republicans gave a handful of candidates. Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot has substantial funding and a solid strategy to gain the Republican nomination at the August convention, and he will succeed in that effort. However, Jocelyn Benson will use his hardline stances as attacks against him, allowing her to win the Secretary of State election, eight years after losing to Ruth Johnson.
Michigan Attorney General: Leonard bests Nessel
Next January 1st will mark sixteen straight years of Republican control of the Attorney General’s office, when Bill Schuette completes his second term. The Democrats and Republicans both have two candidates for the position, and nominees will be officially nominated at state conventions in August. Speaker of the House Tom Leonard holds a strong advantage over Senator Tonya Schuitmaker on the Republican side, having won the straw poll at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference by 27 points. Leonard will win the nomination in August. Meanwhile, Democrat Dana Nessel is much more polarizing than former federal District Attorney Pat Miles, and Democrats will keep up their trend of nominating the most radical candidate. However, Nessel’s radically “progressive” views and sexism will hand the Department of Attorney General directly to Tom Leonard.
Michigan Governor: Schuette narrowly defeats Whitmer
Governor Rick Snyder will end his tenure with many great successes, but also with some notable failures. Democrats will run on the failures, while Republicans promise to build on successes. Attorney General Bill Schuette will be be able to beat Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Senator Patrick Colbeck in the August primary. Meanwhile, former Senator Gretchen Whitmer will easily win the Democratic primary over her relatively unknown opponents.
Schuette will choose a woman as his running mate in order to diversify the ticket, but which of the many qualified conservative women he chooses is the question. Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, Representative Laura Cox, Senator Margaret O’Brien, GOP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, and Lena Epstein all polled well on Mackinac Island. Each of them has their advantages and disadvantages, but Schuette will end up choosing Representative Laura Cox, wife to former Attorney General Mike Cox. There is no doubt who will be the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. Gretchen Whitmer will choose gubernatorial runner-up Abdul El-Sayed as her running mate.
The general election will be intensely close. Whitmer will tie Schuette to the failures of Governor Snyder and the questionable characteristics of President Trump. Schuette will target the increasingly radical leftism of Whitmer and her party, and point to successes of conservative, Republican policies. Although Democrats will see a turnout wave of opposition to Trump and Republicans, Schuette will rally independents and the Republican base to his side, leading to a narrow Schuette/Cox victory over Whitmer/El-Sayed.
U.S. Senator from Michigan: James barely loses to Stabenow
Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow faces reelection in a state that voted for Trump in 2016. Although Michigan’s electoral shift could bode well for Republicans, Democrats will be motivated to turn out and vote against Donald Trump, especially on the national level. “The Resistance” is certainly nothing like the Tea Party wave of 2010, but combined with Debbie Stabenow’s incumbency advantage, the blue wave could be enough to keep her in Washington.
She faces a challenge from three major Republicans. Currently the GOP primary is a close heat between businessman John James and former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Young, Jr., but every poll has shown a huge undecided portion of the electorate. I predict that John James will continue to attract national attention as a businessman and veteran, and rally enough support to win the primary. His inspiration will continue to motivate supporters during the general election campaign, but Debbie Stabenow will boost her turnout with her vast fundraising advantage. Stabenow will narrowly win reelection to her fourth term as Senator, perhaps with an even smaller margin than her 1.6 point victory over Senator Spencer Abraham in 2000.
U.S. House of Representatives: Republicans lose seats, but not majority
The Republicans currently hold a 239-193 advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives, with 3 vacant seats. It is safe to assume that the vacant seats will be filled by a member of the previous party, meaning that the 115th Congress will close out with 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats. The Democrats will certainly see an increase in voter turnout, allowing them to see a political comeback and regain seats. However, the Republicans’ results, including smaller middle class tax rates beginning in the spring, will aid them in maintaining majority. The 116th Congress will begin next year with 227 House Republicans and 208 House Democrats. Having passed a significant tax reform bill, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) will recruit a replacement candidate for his seat and retire. Steve Scalise will become Speaker of the House.
U.S. Senate: Republicans increase majority
Once Doug Jones (D-Alabama) is seated, the Republicans will only hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Despite this fact, the road to Senate gains for the Democrats is difficult. 10 incumbent Democrats are up for reelection in states where Trump won, including several solidly Republican states like Missouri and North Dakota. In addition, both Democratic Senators will face election in Minnesota, a state that Trump almost won. There a few states where the Democrats might be able to take a Republican seat, but only one is likely. Democrats will unseat Dean Heller and gain his Nevada seat. Meanwhile, Republicans will pick up 5 seats—the seats of Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), and Nelson (D-Florida). The Republicans will proceed from 2018 with a 55-45 majority in the Senate, ready to continue pushing the conservative agenda forward.
So there you have it—my predictions for the big elections this year. For some of these predictions, I hope I’m right. For others, I hope I’m wrong. We’ll find out if I’m correct on November 6.