IMP's 2014 Election Predictions

By Susan J. Demas

Who will be Michigan's next governor? Who will be our next U.S. Senator? And which party will control the state House?

IMP turned to top politicos Greg McNeilly, Saul Anuzis, Kelly Rossman-McKinney and Mark Grebner for answers. And as a special bonus, IMP also interviewed  Bill Ballenger, just like the old days. But now we've learned how to post it on the internets.

Here's what they had to say:

Greg McNeilly, GOP strategist and former Michigan Republican Party executive director

1. Who will win the governor's race?

Governor Rick Snyder will win re-election.  However, it maybe the closet margin since Governor [William] Milliken's 1974 re-election. Snyder’s classic approach to campaigning translates to simply doing the job and trying to be Michigan’s best Governor while his opponent runs a traditional thrust-and-parry effort.

2. Who will win the U.S. Senate race?

This is truly a toss-up for Michigan with both major party candidates running amazingly subpar efforts.  It’s become a race of whose unfavorables will be a smidge less than the other.  Given the historic trends of our state, either candidate could eek out a 1976 or 1978-style win (less than 52), but with the presence of third party candidates on the ballot the winner may claim victory with a simple plurality.  Absent a change in national dynamics the edge goes to [Gary] Peters.

3. Which party will win the state House?

Republicans will retain Majority due largely to the superior candidate quality their recruitment efforts yielded.  The chamber’s net change will be +/- 2-3 seats.

 

Mark Grebner, pollster with Democratic and GOP clients, Democratic former Ingham County commissioner

 

1. Who will win the governor's race?

Probably [Rick] Snyder, but only "probably".  If you spot me a margin of four percent, I'd bet on Schauer.  Or give me 3-2 odds, and I'll take Schauer.

2. Who will win the U.S. Senate race?

Probably [Gary] Peters. Give me eight points, and I'll take [Terri Lynn] Land. Or 3-1 odds.

3. Which party will win the state House?

Not my area of expertise, but I'd bet on the Republican gerrymander -- it was pretty skillful.

 

Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO of the Truscott Rossman public relations firm, served in Democratic Gov. Jim Blanchard's administration

1. Who will win the governor's race?

Right now it’s starting to look like it could actually be a nail-biter. While Michigan voters rarely turn out a sitting governor (Jim Blanchard’s feeble attempt for a third term post-divorce being the most recent exception to the rule), challenger Mark Schauer appears to be gaining traction against Gov. [Rick] Snyder. This is in large part due to gifts from the Snyder camp itself rather than Schauer’s own campaign prowess – specifically, slow responses to controversies like Aramark, EAA and MSHDA, coupled with a late-out-of-the-gate ad campaign that didn’t take off until after Labor Day. Schauer’s ads have strong appeal to the middle class, but the new Snyder ad (complete with bobbling head with halo and newly acquired baritone) have resonated nicely with those outside the beltway. Both are fighting for the independent middle but I say Snyder ultimately takes the win.

2. Who will win the U.S. Senate race?

Gary Peters, hands down. He’s got a strong, disciplined campaign effort and years as a seasoned, battle-scarred politician. While[Terri Lynn] Land has tried to capitalize on her business acumen and stint as Secretary of State, members of her own party admit (off the record, of course) that she’s her own worst enemy, as her meltdown moment at the Detroit Chamber’s Mackinac conference proved.

3. Who will win the state House?

While Republicans are busy vying for Speaker, House Democrats are playing every card right, even managing to garner an endorsement or two from traditionally staunch Republican organizations like the Michigan Chamber. The Ds need to pick up just five seats to grab the majority, and although it’s a tall order, they may just close the deal.

 

Saul Anuzis, GOP strategist, former Michigan Republican Party chair

1. Who will win the governor's race?

 The base has polarized while many independent and moderate voters are just starting to engage. [Rick] Snyder “fits” the Michigan model of a relatively “non-partisan” executive, who is doing what he thinks is right versus what is politically motivated. He has a strong record to stand on and even the things some haven’t like, he has done with minimum partisan vitriol. [Mark] Schauer, on the other hand, is an uber-hyper-partisan who has limited depth on the issues and any programs he has proposed (see his education plan). The challenge for Snyder is making sure our conservative base turns out and that the “great middle” in Michigan supports his turn around.

2. Who will win the U.S. Senate race?

The [Terri Lynn] Land campaign will “ride the wave” and her victory will depend on Republican and Independents voting Republican. [President Barack] Obama’s low approval rating and the relative weakness of the [Gary] Peters campaign keeps this race competitive. Land will benefit from a “reverse coattails” effect, as Michigan Republicans have a majority in the state Senate, state House and the Congressional delegation … all up for re-election. Land is running a disciplined campaign that is aggravating the Peter’s campaign and the Democrats. The issues are on her side, Obama’s politics are dragging down the Democrats and Peters is having a hard time landing a solid political punch.

3. Which party will win the state House?

The state House will remain in Republican control. The macro-political environment benefits the Republicans. Obama and weak statewide Democratic candidates give them little support statewide. However, there are some micro issues that have made some races more competitive than they should be.

 

Bill Ballenger, IMP founder and associate editor

1. Who will win the governor's race?

Woody Allen, as we know, said, "90% of life is just showing up," but that means the other 10% of the time we have to do a little more if we want to make something happen. I'm not sure Gov. Rick Snyder recognizes that. Until now, at least, he seems to have been content to just "show up" in front of the electorate and he'll be re-elected by acclamation based on his accomplishments over the past four years. Ain't gonna happen. Snyder has done too many controversial things to get by just on charm, of which he does not have an abundance --- nerds seldom do. He'll have to work for this. Right now, all the polls show he's in a cliffhanger with DemocratMark Schauer. I still think Snyder is the more likely winner on Nov. 4, but it will be close and I could be surprised.
 

2. Who will win the U.S. Senate race?

Many political observers, most of them Republican, like to compare this year's contest to 1994 --- that was the last year we had an open seat race for this important office between a Democratic Congressman and a Republican nominee who at the time was not an elected official. Everybody remembers that Republican Spencer Abraham won that contest pretty easily, but the similarities stop there.Terri Lynn Land is a very different candidate from Abraham, and she isn't running alongside a Rick Snyder who will be re-elected with 62% of the vote, which is the advantage Abraham had in 1994 when John Engler was re-elected governor by that margin. Land's strategy seems to be that this will be a Republican "wave" year and that her opponent is a lackluster garden variety liberal Democrat (Gary Peters) saddled with enormous baggage piled on him by an unpopular president. She appears to be trying to "run out the clock," avoiding debates and interaction with the news media and waiting for the momentum to crest in her favor on Nov. 4. She could be right --- remember, Jack Lousma, the former astronaut who was the Republican nominee in 1984, was polling farther behind one-term incumbent Democrat Carl Levin in 1984 than Land is now, but when Ronald Reagan carried Michigan in a landslide he almost dragged Lousma across the finish line with him. Land has no such savior in sight this year, so unless she changes her strategy the underwhelming Peters is more likely to win.
 

3. Which party will win the state House?

It's hard not to agree with the conventional wisdom --- minority Democrats are unlikely to net-gain the five seats they need to regain control of the state House of Representatives. For that to happen, they would have to "run the table" --- re-elect vulnerable incumbents like Theresa Abed, Collene Lamonte, and Winnie Brinks, win every open seat in marginal districts like the 21st, 56th and 84th, and knock off a handful of sitting Republicans like Jeff Farrington, Ray Franz, Martin Howrylak, and Pat Somerville. If this were 2012, maybe that's doable, but this is a different year. It may not be a "wave" GOP year like 1994 or 2010, but it's going to be a lot better for Republican candidates up and down the ballot. The most likely result is a small net-plus for the Dems (say, 52 or 53 seats as opposed to the 51 they have now) to a small net-plus for the Republicans (say, 60 or 61 compared with the 59 they now hold).