Jan 13, 2007
Bill Ballanger, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, predicts in his most recent newsletter that Michigan House Republicans will lose even more seats in 2008 than the net loss of six seats they suffered in November.
Now, there are lots of political pundits out there that make lots of predictions, but Ballanger is one of the most respected pundits in the state who brings some impressive credentials to the table. He was a Republican state Representative and state Senator, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under the late President Gerald Ford and he was an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. House and U.S. Senate. I once served as a panelist for a political debate where he was the moderator, and he was very knowledgeable.
The Republicans went from controlling the House for more than a decade and wining one of the largest majorities in many years in 2002 to suffering the worst back-to-back election cycles since the early 1940s that culminated with the loss of the House in November.
Open seats are always open game, even in districts that are considered likely Republican or Democrat. The election in 2008 we will see a much larger number of open seats than 2006, and of the at least 45 open seats 28 of those are in districts now held by Republicans. Ballanger predicts House Republicans will see a net-loss of at least six more seats than the six they lost in November, and House Republicans will be reduced to the least amount of seats in some 20 years.
State Republicans tying to justify the losses say it’s just the normal cycle of politics due to external forces beyond their control that happens to both parties, but Ballanger said it’s because of the Republicans ineptitude, saying “House Republicans have little identity other than gotcha game-playing and obstructionism.”
I have also heard Republican “leaders” blaming the misguided mess in Iraq for their loss of the state House, but that’s ridiculous. I worked on a House campaign in Monroe, a so-called "battle ground area.” I made hundreds of phone calls to voters and knocked on hundreds of doors, and I never once heard anyone say they were not voting for the Republicans of Iraq. Nor did I ever hear any state Democrat use Iraq as a campaign issue.
But I did hear state Democrats talk about stopping the flow of Canadian and out-of-state trash, creating jobs, helping the many people who no longer have heath care and eliminating Michigan’s drug immunity law. Those issues resonated with voters. I sincerely hope state Republicans continue to blame Iraq and politics as usual for their woes.
Now, the Iraq mess may help Democrats with voter turnout if it’s still around in 2008 when the president is at the top of the ticket, but I hope by then the uncalled for war is just a bad memory.