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While many here are looking to target red states across the country and that is by no means a bad strategy for the Democratic party, I think there are some left leaning states that the national party needs to put some more resources into. One of those is the state of Michigan. While Obama received just shy of 55% of the two-party vote in the state, the Republicans currently have a super-majority in the state senate. This is partially due to gerrymandering but also due in part to the state Democratic party doing a less than ideal job of targeting state senate seats.

The state senate in Michigan is only up every 4 years so 2014 will be an especially important election as it is one of only two chances the state Democratic party has to take back seats before the next redistricting. Currently the Democratic party has only 12 seats out of 38 and sort of only holds 11 districts going forward since the last redistricting combined 7 Wayne County Democratic Reps into 6 districts. Follow me below the fold for some election data details as well as for some analysis on what seats the Democratic party should target.

So first off, lets look at the election data. The data for the first couple columns I generated by putting the new senate districts into DRA. Since some of the precincts have been changed, the data is not exact but should be close enough. However more importantly the last couple columns show the Obama/Romney results for 2012. (Please note that districts 1-5 all contain portions of Detroit and are majority African-American districts. Since they are all heavily Dem, and Detroit data is hard to break-down by district, I calculated these districts together and just averaged them.) This data I generated by using the Michigan SOS as well as county/city websites when necessary. I also gave each district a partisan lean based on how Obama performed in them relative to the country in 2012. However it must be remembered that some districts vote very differently down ballot then they do in Federal races. The partisan lean for the districts is the same that I use for most states across the country including the New Jersey data I recently posted. They are as follows.

strong rep: 10+ points to the right of center
mod-rep: 5-10 points right of center
lean-rep: 2-5 points right of center
toss-up: within 2 points of USA average
lean-dem: 2-5 points left of center
mod-dem: 5-10 points left of center
strong dem: 10+ points left of center

Also the columns are sort of color coded for who holds the particular state senate seats currently. Blue for Dem and red for Rep.  But note that the Republicans combined the 12 Democratic senators into 11 seats so I only color coded those 11 seats blue on the graph.  In addition, the Republicans created a conservative district (district 26) on the west side of the state which I colored red since it will no doubt be a republican district. Thus the graph shows 27 red and 11 blue even though the state had 26 republicans and 12 democratic reps.

Since 20 seats are need to take the senate and the Michigan Democratic party only really starts off with 11 due to the reason stated above, it is necessary to pick-up at least 4 and preferably more seats this election cycle to meet the goal of 20 seats by 2018 in time for redistricting. The good news is that there are several easy targets as well as a couple others that may be doable for the Democratic party.

District 13: This is an open seat as the current Republican senator is term-limited. While it is a mildly Republican district it is necessary for the state Democratic party to win a couple districts like this one to take over the senate. A good candidate for them would be current Democratic Rep Jim Townsend (house district 26) from Royal Oak who has won re-election before. It would be a tough uphill race against whoever the Republicans nominate but definitely doable. Since the minority population is quite small in the district, mid-term drop-offs should be minimal for the Dems.

District 17: This district is also an open seat due to a term-limited Republican and one that the Democratic party does well at sometimes down ballot. It is also a seat absolutely necessary for a Democratic majority. I hear that one of the Spades would be an excellent candidate here.

District 20: The current senator here is Tonya Shuitmaker who will likely seek re-election in neighboring senate district 26 leaving this seat open. On the Dem side Sean McCann from House district 60 would be an excellent candidate while the Reps will quite possibly run Margaret O'Brien from house district 61. This will also be a tough race between the parties but should slightly favor the Democratic party.

District 32: This is another open district due to a term limited Republican senator and like district 20 above, it should favor the Dems. Stacey Oakes from House district 95 could run on the Democratic side but I think she might just be a little too progressive for what the senate district could handle. On the Republican side I am not sure yet who might run.

District 38: This is a rather unique district that has started to vote Republican on the federal level but is still strongly Democratic at the local level. It is currently represented by Republican senator Tom Casperson who was swept in during the 2010 elections. However, it should be a fairly easy flip back for the Dems considering that their candidates did well in the upper peninsula back in 2012 elections. As for who should run on the Democratic side, I think Scott Dianda from House district 110 would be a strong challenger. He also has a somewhat more moderate record that should go over well in this more conservadem area.

Other districts worth targeting include 7, 29, and 34 however they all have incumbent Republican senators and all would be a tough fight at a time when the Democratic party will also be focusing on a Senate race, Gubernatorial race, and taking the state house. Michigan is going to need a lot of resources this coming year however it is important to remember that without capturing the trifecta, it will be hard for the Democratic party to advance their values.

-x-system-font: none; display: block;">   michigan senate upload.xlsx by minnesotagopher7

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Comment Preferences

  •  Year in, year out; (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, dkmich, Zadie

    The Republicans have controlled the MI State Senate since 1983.  Yes, you heard me right - 1983.  In that year, Sens. Serotkin and Mastin were recalled, flipping the Senate from D to R.

    30 years, through D years and R years; D govs. and R govs.  Why?  Who knows.

    I say: Abolish the MI State Senate.  Go unicameral.

    A bunch of useless primadonnas.

  •  Do you see how they gerrymandered (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LakeSuperior, llywrch, Sylv, James Allen

    Oakland County into three different districts?  We virtually have zero representation, and the effers did this to a Republican County Exec.

    As you say, much of this is due to the lame ass MDP we had.  Certainly hope the new guy is better.

    I also hope we send Snyder back where he came from.  Biggest and most arrogant ass I've ever worked with.

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Warren 2016

    by dkmich on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 05:26:42 AM PDT

    •  I personally also dislike Snyder (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dkmich, Sylv

      but I have my doubts about how easily he can be knocked off. Many of the Republican governors in the Midwest have done an excellent job rehabilitating their image enough to be safe for re-election. I expect that Snyder will be able to do the same. I'm a little disappointed that Stupak isn't running for Governor. He would be much stronger then the current nominee.

      Its time for politicians to stop talking like they support immigration reform and actually start acting like they support it.

      by minnesota gopher on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:51:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I only know the ones I hate. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sylv, James Allen

        McMillin is another first class jerk.  They all hate government but refuse to work anyplace else.  

        What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Warren 2016

        by dkmich on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 12:11:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know about that (0+ / 0-)

        I think there would be some very upset Democrats and likely a primary challenge given that he is pro-life.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 07:08:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Disagree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        James Allen

        The governor's office seems like the easiest of all the offices to get back maybe short of SoS.  I'm thinking even easier than the state house.  I'm thinking this may be one of those cases where the folks on the ground really feel and see stuff out-of-staters may not be seeing.  Snyder is much closer to, say, Corbett in vulnerability than he is to say Kasich or Walker.  Synder is going to have to fight for his political life to keep this office.

    •  My sympathies - you have to work with him?! n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  No reason to expect us (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MetroGnome

    to be able to take the senate here.  We haven't controlled it for 30 years.

    •  The Republicans are ecstatic when the Democratic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, James Allen

      party takes this approach. The Democratic party can't do well without making a strong effort. Yes, it will be hard for them but if you look at the election data, its a whole lot easier for the Dems then say a state like North Carolina or Texas.

      Its time for politicians to stop talking like they support immigration reform and actually start acting like they support it.

      by minnesota gopher on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:56:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, I live in Michigan (4+ / 0-)

    and the points you have made are very consistent with what I believe to be the current situation in our state.  With the shenanigans perpetrated by our state legislature in the last year (including the repeal of right-to-work, among other issues) Michigan is ripe for a throw-the-bums-out election.  If the Democratic Party gets their act together, there is no reason why they should not be able to pick up all of the five seats you have described, as well as others that are potentially vulnerable--in addition to 7, 29, and  34, I would also say that District 10 bears watching, as does District 19 if term-limited Dem Rep. Kate Segal throws her hat in the ring.  Thanks for a thoughtful and well-researched post.

    MI-8, 71, married, 7 children, 16 grandchildren, retired, independent but progressive

    by jimmich on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:11:12 AM PDT

    •  Its a beautiful state and my favorite in the (0+ / 0-)

      Midwest. I have a lot of family there and visit often so I follow their politics quite a bit. Surprising how well Republicans have done, it is apparently the most left-leaning state to have a Republican trifecta. I also agree that District 10 is a great target for the Democratic party but I am not sure how easy District 19 would be. Obama did 9 points better in Segal's house district then in senate district 19 and she doesn't seem to out perform Obama in 2012. District 19 is quite red and is going to need someone who can appeal to the social conservatives that dominate that area of Michigan. Still its worth a try for them.

      Its time for politicians to stop talking like they support immigration reform and actually start acting like they support it.

      by minnesota gopher on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 10:10:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow you beat me to the punch (0+ / 0-)

    I am writing a slightly more in-depth analysis of the senate districts in Michigan. It is nice to see somebody else's perspective on the races. I think we agree on the top pickup opportunities, but I think my diary will throw some more names out there. Like I would not expect Dianda in the 38th, but I have heard some other names.

    M, 23, School: MI-12, Home: NY-18

    by slacks on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 03:11:05 PM PDT

  •  Of course ... (0+ / 0-)

    You didn't have the benefit of the release this morning of results by legislative district for MI, but computing the PVIs for Obama and Stabenow and averaging them, I'd say the 9 districts most likely to flip in the next election or the one after (for those not familiar with MI, senators are limited to two terms, so every seat becomes open every 8 years) are, in order,
    32, 20, 34, 10, 29, 38, 24, 17, and 7

    The next 5 districts would be
    31, 33, 12, 13, and 14

    This should give enough targets to have at least a chance of finally having the Senate in Dem hands for the next redistricting.

    Of course, with elections for governor, U.S. senate, the MI senate and house, supreme court, and maybe a couple of initiatives (redistricting reform and eliminating the silly loophole where any law containing an appropriation is immune from referendum come to mind), MI will need a ton of resources next year, so it my take a while to get the senate in the right hands.

    MI-09, Economic -3.38. Social -7.59

    by Don K on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 03:26:23 PM PDT

    •  Agree with your list (0+ / 0-)

      except that I would swap SD13 for SD24.  The former will be an open seat, and will be an easier target than Rick Jones.

      MI-8, 71, married, 7 children, 16 grandchildren, retired, independent but progressive

      by jimmich on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 06:42:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Senate (0+ / 0-)

    The senate is a multi-session project, for sure, if we're be absolutely realistic.  The thing has been gerrymandered to hell, and the 38 seats seems just small enough to keep out Dems in some of our smaller cities, and just large enough to dilute them.

    I'd be happy just winning back enough seats to where we could get wins on certain issues with moderate GOP crossover (that actually still happens in Michigan from time-to-time, BTW), so long as we get back the state house and governor's seat.  Realistically, the size of the senate either needs to be increased or decreased if they are going to keep gerrymandering it.  Hopefully, we'll get a citizen's redistricting proposal on the ballot.

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