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View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: What if ACA gets good (or no) press? (146 comments)

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  •  One notable example of fatal overconfidence (6+ / 0-)

    is James Blanchard, running for his third term (possible back then) as Michigan governor in 1990. For some reason, he thought he had the election in the bag and didn't do much to court African-American voters, especially in Detroit. Turnout in the city was remarkably low, and in the end he lost to John Engler by 17,000 votes--a margin that could have easily been overcome by strong voting in the city, had he given people reason to vote for him.

    Now, Engler was one of the worst governors we've ever had, corrupt and disdainful toward the public good. He practically destroyed the strong safety net we had developed in the state, which had made us one of the best in the nation in terms of mental health services (for one example). He brought us into line with national policies, when Reagan rule had already decimated public housing and other essential social supports. Engler also gutted environmental protections in the state.

    Though Granholm halted the decline, she could do comparatively little to rebuild the social infrastructure. We've fallen from being a state in the top ten of many measures of citizen protections to the bottom twenty, at best.

    So for that, I hold Blanchard's arrogance partly to blame. It wasn't just himself he was running for, it was the entire state of Michigan that needed true public service. Engler's legacy is still felt in Snyder's regime, which someone better versed in Michigan's political history could detail better than I.

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    by peregrine kate on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 06:30:21 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Two More Legs to the Story (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate

      Over-confidence---which I agree is very dangerous---may well have been a factor but there were other issues and factors.

      Governor Blanchard's divorce and remarriage was also an issue that may well have cost votes, especially outside Wayne County.

      The Detroit turnout has an additional dimension. Whether Blanchard campaigned enough in Detroit is a fair question but it should also be recognized that he did not do what was necessary to induce Mayor Young to use his influence and networks to turn out the vote for the Governor.

      Mayor Young was concerned about Detroit falling below 1,000,000 in the final 1990 census count. Michigan's statutes had many special rules for cities larger than 1,000,000 which were part of the operation of the city. Young wanted to begin amending the statutes to protect Detroit's status. Blanchard did not publicly embrace that effort. I believe he wanted to wait until the census made it necessary. Given the make up of the Legislature then, the effort would have required substantial arm-twisting and exacerbated the tensions between Detroit and the rest of the state.

      Additionally because Engler controlled the state Senate, raising the issue during the election would have compelled his opposition and enhanced his position out-state.

      Whether Blanchard's assessment of the net balance of voters' positions was correct, the timing of the election, the census, and Detroit's loss of population created a difficult issue. Either position would cost Blanchard votes. As a matter of arithmetic, backing Detroit would likely switch votes out-state, but remaining silent would reduce turnout in Detroit. The former is like losing two votes, the latter only one.

      As it happened, because Detroit's final count was just above a million in 1990, Young's concern was pre-mature and Blanchard's apparent judgment of the facts was sustained, but that wasn't evident leading up to and during the campaign.

      Blanchard also declined to attack Engler on some of Engler's own weaknesses. That aspect may have reflected over-confidence.

      In sum, my take then and now is that the Detroit turnout issue was real but a dilemma whereas the management of the divorce and remarriage and the failure to highlight Engler's weaknesses were less explicable. Both issues left votes "on the table." Over confidence might have been a factor in those issues but I don't think so with regard to the turnout in Detroit.

      While we highlight different issues with respect to overconfidence in that 1990 campaign, we agree that it is a risk campaigns can rarely afford. And we most certainly agree that the adverse consequences of that narrow loss continue.

      •  Aaargh. I wrote a long reply and it got lost. (0+ / 0-)

        Let's see if I can recap.
        I do recall the divorce and remarriage brouhaha. I bet it wouldn't have nearly the impact now.
        I also recall the census issue, though as you say it was a little premature in 1990. But I think there were other political tensions between Young and Blanchard besides that one. I was a city resident at the time, and I remember the general impression that Blanchard wasn't especially invested in supporting Detroit. Now, Young wasn't averse to cooperating with white businessmen or politicians if they were promoting constructive policies, so there must have been something else there (or not, as the case may be). However, the lack of the machine turnout was certainly short-sighted of Young, since Engler's administration was catastrophic for Detroit, no real surprise given his politics and backers.
        Thank you for providing such a thorough and careful elucidation of my original point. Clearly this is a familiar topic to you; were you a Detroiter or Michigander back then? In any case, I'm happy you stopped by.
        I see you're also a relative newbie to commenting. I hope you continue to contribute to the discussions around here.
        I think that covers it!
        Oh, before I post--I should note that it is possible I'll wind up with a double-reply. The site hiccups like that sometimes. It's a mystery.

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        by peregrine kate on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 08:12:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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