Thursday, April 29, 2010

State of the House: Part III

(cross-posted on WMR, ML, BFM-pb)

Introduction

A few weeks ago I examined the underlying political conditions of the 110 Michigan State House districts, which can be found [http://www.michiganliberal.com/diary/16421/state-of-the-house-part-i here], and later performed the same analysis on the [http://westmichiganrising.com/diary/1531/state-of-the-senate-part-ii State Senate]. This analysis used a variation of the reputable House Vulnerability Index developed by Crisitunity at the Swing State Project that I called the District Vulnerability Index (DVI). This analysis is the third part of the series, and looks at the individual State House races. The forthcoming last section will look at the State Senate races. I last looked at individual candidate filings in mid-January, and in the past three months, over 100 candidates have filed to run in the August 2010 primary for both parties. As mentioned previously, I maintain a listing of State House and State Senate candidates that includes the financial filing statements that can be obtained via a subscription by emailing peterbratt@gmail.com.

Analysis

Using the DVI, I've divided the 110 State House seats into five different categories; Safe GOP, Leans GOP, Swing, Leans DEM, and Safe DEM. You can see the Safe GOP seats in Table 1 below (soapblox won't let me embed these tables, so just click the link below).:

Table 1 (Worksheet 1): Safe GOP (28 seats)
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tq_7t0cEoEVthqHUewbvX-Q&output=html

The vast majority of these seats are historic Republican strongholds, particularly those in Oakland County, and seats in rural Kent and Ottawa Counties. 15 of the 27 seats have GOP incumbents, and of these 15, none have a primary challenger, and only one has a general election opponent (Hugh Crawford, R-38). While the 14 other incumbents will likely get Democratic challengers in the next two weeks, expect these safe incumbents to return to Lansing in January 2011.

The other 12 seats feature open Republican primaries to replace term-limited GOP incumbents. Many of these races have attracted a large number of candidates, including District 73 (northern Kent County) with eight candidates, District 77 (Wyoming and Byron Township) and District 105 (Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Otsego Counties) with six. While these seats might feature combative Republican primaries (the 105th features GOP media queen Dennis Lennox), none yet have strong Democratic candidates to take advantage of potential discord. Unless a Democratic wave reappears, I can't see anything but 27 Republicans winning these seats.

Table 2 (Worksheet 2): Leans GOP (13 seats)
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tq_7t0cEoEVthqHUewbvX-Q&output=html

Six of these GOP-leaning seats are held by Republican incumbents, who have attracted a range of competition. In particular, should Paul Scott (District 51-southern Genesee County) run for Secretary of State, this district would again be a swing seat, especially given his Democratic opponent Art Reyes, who is a strong labor leader in Genesee County.

Republicans in Lansing will be much more interested in three open seats being vacated by Democrats. Districts 20 (Northville), 83 (Saniac County) and 107 (Chippewa, Mackinac, and Emmet Counties) are being vacated by Marc Corriveau (running for State Senate District 7), John Espinoza (term-limited) and Gary McDowell (who is term-limited and running for US Congress). These three seats are perhaps the most opportune pickup chances for the GOP. However, each of these seats will likely feature Republican primaries, although Republican Kurt Heise is unopposed in the GOP primary for the 20th District, while Democrats Michael Kheibari and Joan Wadsworth are facing off in the Democratic primary. The 83rd District three-way Republican primary, while school teacher Alan Lewanbowski is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The 107 has two candidates in the Democratic primary and three in the Republican primary.

The remaining four seats are open districts due to term-limits removing Republican incumbents, and a number feature combative primaries. This is particularly true in Districts 79 (northern Berrien County) and 80 (Van Buren County), seats that have a historic Republican lean and where a split between GOP establishment candidates and TeaRepublicans is heading towards inter-party warfare could prove adventitious for Democrats. Democratic candidate Tom Erdmann is waiting as the Democratic candidate in the 80th District, although no Democratic candidate has yet filed in the 79th District.

Table 3 (Worksheet 3): Safe DEM (36 seats)
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tq_7t0cEoEVthqHUewbvX-Q&output=html

Most of these safe Democratic districts like in Detroit (15 seats) or in other long-term Democratic strongholds across the state. 22 seats have Democratic incumbents, and the seven Democratic incumbents from outside the city of Detroit have no primary challengers, although a few have woefully funded general election opponents. 13 of the 15 Democratic incumbents in Detroit are facing primary challenges, underscoring how pathetic the GOP is in the city. For the large part these challenges are from constant candidates, although Rashida Tlaib (District 12) faces challenger Jim Czachorowski, who may be funded by businessman Matty Moroun. Stay tuned, and expect all the 22 Democratic incumbents to return to Lansing (although Lesia Liss might face a contest from disgruntled Democrats).

Of the 14 open seats, all feature multi-candidate primaries, which will be entertaining to watch. However, expect 36 Democrats to return to Lansing from these safe seats.

Table 4 (Worksheet 4): Leans DEM (18 seats)
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tq_7t0cEoEVthqHUewbvX-Q&output=html

11 of these seats are currently held by Democratic incubments. None are facing primary challengers, and although all have general election opponents. The seven open Democratic seats are more vulnerable to Republican challengers, particularly seats that are historically Republican (District 55-Washtenaw and Monroe Counties, District 75-Grand Rapids). At this time I'd consider District 55 to be the most vulnerable Democratic leaning seat, although District 26 (Royal Oak and Madison Heights) could be a sleeper race.

Table 5 (Worksheet 5: Swing (16 seats)
http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tq_7t0cEoEVthqHUewbvX-Q&output=html

If the Democratic and Republican candidates perform as expected and win all their safe and leaning seats, there will be at least 54 Democrats and 41 Republicans in Lansing come January 2011. The remaining 16 swing seats are likely to be the major focus of each party in the 2010 election cycle, and rightfully so. However, five of these seats are held by Democratic incumbents (Districts 1, 21, 24, 39, and 70) and one can expect large amounts of resources from the MDP to flow freely to these candidates. Republicans face somewhat of an uphill battle in winning these seats, given the strength that incumbents have shown in past election cycles, and that potentially bloody Republican primaries are in the offering in a number of these districts (District 39 especially). Of the remaining 11 seats, six are being vacated by term-limited Democrats (Districts 52, 57, 65, 91, 103, and 106), while five were previously held by term-limited Republicans (Districts 30, 71, 85, 97, and 99). With the exception of District 52 (where Republican Mark Ouimet and Democratic Christine Green are the only candidates in this western Washtenaw County seat), all of these seats feature a multi-candidate primaries on both sides, particularly in District 71, where five Democrats and three Republicans are vying their party's nominations.

Conclusion

In January 2010 I made a prediction that Democrats would lose five seats, reducing their majority to a 62-38 margin. I'm sticking by this today, although. Once the primary picture clears up in early August 2010, we will know a lot more about the overall state of the House.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

State of the Senate: Part II

(cross-posted at WMR, BFM, and ML-pb)

Introduction

A few weeks ago I examined the underlying political conditions of the 110 Michigan State House districts, which can be found [http://www.michiganliberal.com/diary/16421/state-of-the-house-part-i here]. This second part performs the same analysis on the State Senate. As stated previously, the forthcoming third and fourth parts will examine the candidates who have filed to run for seats in the State House and State Senate. As mentioned previously, I maintain a listing of State House and State Senate candidates that includes the financial filing statements that can be obtained via a subscription by emailing peterbratt@gmail.com.

Analysis

While in previous posts I had made some guesses as to which seats are the most vulnerable for a potential takeover by the opposing party, I want to quantify this estimation. Using a variation of the reputable House Vulnerability Index developed by Crisitunity at the Swing State Project, I have created my own District Vulnerability Index (DVI) which is shown in Table 1 below.

Some of the columns are pretty self-explanatory. Column 1 provides the senate district number, 2 provides the current senator's name, column 3 the senator's party, and column 4 the senator's current term. Columns 5-7 provide the Democratic baseline number from the 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections, with column 8 the three cycle average for the district. I tested this model out using the Presidential/Gubernatorial numbers from 2004 to 2008 instead of the baseline numbers, but went with the baseline numbers given that the higher ticket numbers distorts the DVI by giving a Democratic percentage that is much higher on the top of the ticket than for lower level races (like the state house and state senate). Column 9 is the Partisan Voting Index, which is calculated by subtracting the statewide partisan average of 50% from the district's average Democratic baseline found in column 8. Column 12 provides my previous classification of the race in February 2010, and is included here to test its validity while using the DVI. Column 10 ranks the PVI for each district from 1 to 110, with 1 being most Republican and 110 being the most Democratic.

Column 11 is the perhaps the most important column in the entire analysis. As stated in previous analysis, incumbency is a wonderful advantage, as it provides funds, name recognition, and built in party support. In Michigan, incumbent candidates have a win percentage of nearly 95% every cycle in both the State House and State Senate since term limits were established in 1992, and despite the electorate being anti-incumbent in the 2010 cycle, the voters hate every incumbent expect their own. Column 11 is the Democratic candidate's margin of victory from the 2008 cycle, and open seats (whether from term-limits or from candidates leaving the State House to pursue other opportunities) have no margin given. Columns 14 to 17 show the data used to determine column 11, providing the votes for the Republican candidate (Column 14) and the Democratic candidate (Column 15), the Democratic candidate's two-party vote percentage (Column 16) and the Republican candidate's two-party vote percentage (Column 17).

The DVI is shown in Column 13. The DVI is determined by multiplying Column 11 by 50 and adding the PVI rank in Column 10. Districts with no incumbent thus are at a greater risk for being taken over by the opposing party. Table 1 ranks the districts from the smallest to largest DVI.


http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn153/pbratt/SS2010Analysis.jpg
Table 1: State Senate DVI

Conclusion

Table 1 largely confirms that there are a number of solid Republican and Democratic seats that the opposing party will not attempt to take over in 2010. I'm guessing that 12 Democratic districts and 14 Republican districts will face minimal opposition. While the nine incumbents are all likely to return in in 2011, I was surprised how vulnerable Roger Kahn's district is, despite his incumbency advantage. Indeed, the 32nd District has as solid as a Democratic base as Glenn Anderson's 6th State Senate district, a seat that no Republican will seriously consider as a possible flip. Likewise, the usual suspects of open swing seats appear- the 7th District in western Wayne County, the 20th District (Kalamazoo County), the 29th (Grand Rapids and Kentwood), the 34th (Muskegon County) and the 36th District (northeast lower peninsula). However, Democratic candidates for the 36th (Joel Sheltrown) and 37th (Gary McDowell) are considering running for the open 1st Congressional District seat. Losing either of these candidates would make flipping these districts a much steeper challenge for the Senate Democrats in November.

One question that I haven't be able to answer yet is the role of money in winning an open seat. Generally, the candidate who spends the most (including resources from the state party and PAC money) wins. However, this does not include candidates who self-finance, who have a harder time convincing voters that they are not simply buying the seat. With the sheer number of open seats in the State Senate, both parties need to make sacrifices on where to send their dollars. This might hinder a candidate like Republican Tom Casperson in the 38th District, who will likely need ample funding from the Michigan Republican Party to compete in a traditionally Democratic district. Likewise, a candidate such as Democrat Mary Valentine, who is struggling to raise money in a competitive open seat with an increasingly Democratic lean, might require much more in state party resources, forcing the Michigan Democratic Party to reduce resources to more "long-shot" districts. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming Parts 3 and 4 that examine the candidates running for the State House and State Senate seats.

Friday, April 9, 2010

State of the House: Part I

Introduction

With the candidacy filing deadlines just over a month away, it is an opportune time to look at the state of play of the Michigan legislature. While pollsters are covering the gubernatorial race with increasing frequency, much of the noise regarding races in the State Senate and State House are is simply noise, and often is used by candidates (mostly of the Republican variety) who substitute updating their Facebook status with actual campaign.

The analysis below is the first part of a four-part series and covers the underlying situation in the Michigan State House. The second post examines the candidates who have thus filed to run for seats in the State House, and the third and fourth parts repeat the previous two pieces of analysis for the Michigan State House. As always, I maintain a listing of State House and State Senate candidates that includes the financial filing statements that can be obtained via a subscription by emailing peterbratt@gmail.com.

Analysis

While in previous posts I had made some guesses as to which seats are the most vulnerable for a potential takeover by the opposing party, I want to quantify this estimation. Using a variation of the reputable House Vulnerability Index developed by Crisitunity at the Swing State Project, I have created my own District Vulnerability Index (DVI) which is shown in Table 1 below.

Some of the columns are pretty self-explanatory. Column 1 provides the House District number, 2 provides the current representative’s name, and column 3 the representative’s current term. Columns 4-5 provide the Democratic baseline number from the 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections, with column 7 the three cycle average for the district. I tested this model out using the Presidential/Gubernatorial numbers from 2004 to 2008 instead of the baseline numbers, but went with the baseline numbers given that the higher ticket numbers distorts the DVI by giving a Democratic percentage that is much higher on the top of the ticket than for lower level races (like the state house and state senate). Column 8 provides my previous classification of the race in February 2010, and is included here to test its validity while using the DVI. Column 9 is the Partisan Voting Index, which is calculated by subtracting the statewide partisan average of 50% from the district’s average Democratic baseline found in column 7. Column 10 ranks the PVI for each district from 1 to 110, with 1 being most Republican and 110 being the most Democratic.

Column 11 is the perhaps the most important column in the entire analysis. As stated in previous analysis, incumbency is a wonderful advantage, as it provides funds, name recognition, and built in party support. In Michigan, incumbent candidates have a win percentage of nearly 95% every cycle in both the State House and State Senate since term limits were established in 1992, and despite the electorate being anti-incumbent in the 2010 cycle, the voters hate every incumbent expect their own. Column 11 is the Democratic candidate’s margin of victory from the 2008 cycle, and open seats (whether from term-limits or from candidates leaving the State House to pursue other opportunities) have no margin given. Columns 13 to 16 show the data used to determine column 11, providing the votes for the Republican candidate (Column 13) and the Democratic candidate (Column 14), the Democratic candidate’s two-party vote percentage (Column 15) and the Republican candidate’s two-party vote percentage (Column 16).

The DVI is shown in Column 12. The DVI is determined by multiplying Column 11 by 50 and adding the PVI rank in Column 10. Districts with no incumbent thus are at a greater risk for being taken over by the opposing party. Table 1 ranks the districts from the smallest to largest DVI.

Conclusion


http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn153/pbratt/MIAnalysis_Page_1.jpg

To better understand Table 1, take a look at the first district on top of the list. House District 90 covers southeast Ottawa County and includes the cities of Holland, Zeeland, and Hudsonville within its boundaries. The district is currently represented by Republican Joseph Haveman, who is in his first term. The Democratic baseline in 2004 was 21.0%, 23.4% in 2006, and 28.7% in 2008, yielding an average Democratic baseline of 24.4%. I had previous given this district the status of Safe Republican, and with a PVI of negative 25.6%, it is not difficult to see why. This is the most Republican State House District in the state and has a PVI rank of 1. Haveman did well here in the 2008 election, pulling 31,233 votes, while his Democratic opponent Clay Stauffer received 12,011 and thus lost with a 44.5% margin. As a result, the 90th State House District has a DVI of negative 21.


http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn153/pbratt/MIAnalysis_Page_2.jpg

Table 1 reveals how many districts are simply out of play for either party. It might have helped the GOP to run a candidate against Jimmy Womack in the 7th District, but given that the DVI is 159, the chances of a Republican knocking off a Democrat in northeastern Detroit are nil (heck, I bet Kwame Kilpatrick could still win this district if he survived a Democratic primary and was not prevented from running again by virtue of being a convicted felon and terms limits). I expect the 44 most Democratic districts and the 37 most Republican districts to remain under the control of their respective parties. However, a careful reader of Table 1 would note that Democrats currently control three Districts that have a strong Republican lean. Two of these seats are open (District 20 in western Wayne County and District 107 in the Upper Peninsula), while District 70 is held by first-term Democratic Representative Mike Huckleberry. While Huckleberry might be the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, he was helped in 2008 by a strong name recognition and a divided Republican Party, a situation that will likely present itself again in 2010 should a divisive Republican primary occur.


http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn153/pbratt/MIAnalysis_Page_3.jpg

In the coming months, watch the six most vulnerable Democratic seats. Five are open (Districts 20, 57, 65, 83, and 107), and present the GOP with an opportunity to narrow the Democratic control of the State House from 67 to 43 margin to a 62 to 49 margin. There are fewer vulnerable Republican seats, but leading the list are Districts 30, 85, 97, and 99. All of these seats are open and prime pickup territory for a strong Democratic candidate. Perhaps the most vulnerable Republican incumbent is Paul Scott, who represents District 51 in southern Genesee County. Scott, who has been rumored to be the Yob candidate for Secretary of State, is currently slotted to face Democratic candidate and UAW Local 651 President Art Reyes III in the general election.

While numbers are not destiny, the do provide a floor on which candidates much get their political footing. Stay tuned for Part II to see which candidates have filed for the August primary.