Thursday, June 19, 2008

Where We Stand

Having looked at the big picture for Michigan State House races a few weeks ago in two posts, where do we go from here? The first is that a series of articles at Michigan Liberal covering various seats will be written to help increase reader awareness of the state of races, especially primary contests. An informed progressive readership will be more effective come the fall, as the GOP machine starts roaring into action. The second is that the State House candidates will face unique challenges for their races, as each district is unique. For more insight on each race we’ll be talking to some knowledgeable political souls across the state.

At the moment, it appears that there are at least thirty five seats that might change party control when the 2009-2011 session of the Michigan State House convenes. Obviously, some seats are more likely to switch than others. Republican-held seats that have a status of being a “weak Democratic” seat are far more likely to switch than a Safe Democratic seat becoming Republican. Others may disagree (and please discuss this in the comments section of this post), but I firmly believe that open seats (generally seats being vacated by term-limited representatives in their third term) are the most vulnerable, followed by seats held by first-term representatives. Seats held by second-term representatives are generally the least likely to flip, although there are some examples of this happening in past election cycles. 1: Standard Template

Figure 1 represents the general template in order of vulnerability for a partisan switch.
Figure 2: Partisan Status Matrix

Figure 2 shown above lists the State House districts following this formula with the PVI included in parentheses. Partisan affiliation is provided for instances where a party controls a seat with a lean towards the other party. Affiliation is also provided for all swing seats.

As Figure 2 shows, the Democratic Party has good and bad news heading into the 2008 election. The good news is that 26 seats are Safe Democratic seats, while there are only 9 such seats for the Republicans. There is little chance the GOP will attempt to run serious campaigns against any of these candidates, and there are a number of seats with no Republican challenger this fall. There are also three seats that are weak Democratic seats the GOP currently control, and two are open seats (Districts 62 and 108). Both of these seats should be opportune places for the Democrats to pick up a seat. The third seat (District 97) might need to wait until 2010 for a spirited Democratic challenger. Finally, a number of swing seats controlled by the GOP (Districts 1, 21, 24, and 51) are ready for the taking, and a number of swing seats currently held by Republicans in their second term will open up in 2010 (Districts 30, 39, 71, 85, and 99).

However the State House Democrats have some vulnerable seats as well. Two Lean GOP seats are controlled by the Dems, and District 20 held by first-term Representative Marc Corriveau is especially open for Republican challenger. District 107 is also likely to experience some strong Republican opposition, although Saul might wait until 2010 for making a race of this seat. Democrats also control a number of Weak GOP seats. Three are held by first-term representatives (Districts 64, 65, and 84), and two are held by second-term representatives (Districts 57 and 83) that are less susceptible to a challenge. Finally, expect fierce GOP races against first-term Democrats holding Swing Districts (Districts 67, 75, and 91-although the feeble GOP recruiting efforts in the 75th are puzzling).

Based my research, I suspect that the thirteen seats listed below (in no particular order) will be the most fiercely contested in the general election this November. I do think that this toxic national environment will force Saul et al. on the defensive, although much depends on the candidates in each race.

1. 62nd-open
2. 108th-open
3. 84th
4. 64th
5. 65th
6. 91st
7. 37th-open
8. 1st-open
9. 51st-open
10. 106th-open
11. 37th-open
12. 21st-open
13. 24th-open
14. 20th


PS. For those interested in seeing the maps from the previous posts, see the following links:

Current Partisan Control:

District Status:
Map 2: Wayne County
Map 3: Macomb and Oakland Counties
Map 4: The Thumb
Map 5: Ann Arbor & Downriver
Map 6: Southwestern Michigan
Map 7: Western Michigan
Map 8: Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula

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