Smitten with the Mitten: Winning Michigan this Fall

EveryDistrict has endorsed an initial three candidates in the Michigan State House. In this article, we break down how Democrats can take over the House this year for the first time since 2010.

EveryDistrict is proud to endorse candidates in Michigan again in 2020, after working with both Senate and House candidates in 2018. Democrats made major gains in both chambers, and this year we believe that Democrats can win the Michigan House of Representatives.* To make that happen, Democrats have to win four seats. How will they get there?

1. Continue the Gains in the Detroit Suburbs

Democrats are well-positioned, as elsewhere in the country, to win among voters in the suburban areas around Detroit. In both Oakland County and Macomb County—made famous as the home of “Reagan Democrats”—Democrats can pick up key seats toward a majority. As shown in the figure below, these districts represent the next outer ring of suburban communities. We have our particular eye on the neighboring districts of HD 38 and HD 39—where Julia Pulver is our already-endorsed candidate—as particularly strong pick-up opportunities. HD 45 is another district we’re watching closely. Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) won all three of these districts in 2018.

This map shows the competitive opportunities in the Detroit suburbs. HD 39, where EveryDistrict has endorsed Julia Pulver, is highlighted in yellow. Other competitive districts, including HDs 38 and 45, are highlighted in pink.

2. Take the fight to CD6

In every state we work, we try to broaden our support and focus beyond just the candidates in the “blue-ifying” suburbs of the state’s major cities. Why? First, while running up the numbers there may be enough to win statewide, it is rarely enough to take a legislative majority from the Republicans. Second, we believe that Democrats can and should build a broad tent of support to be a truly majoritarian party.

A geography that we think will be vitally important to the future of Michigan is the western part of the state, particularly concentrated in the 6th Congressional District. Currently represented by Republican Fred Upton, this district is a top target for Democrats after picking up two seats in 2018. Gretchen Whitmer just barely lost the district and Upton only won re-election by four points.

At the state legislative level, there are a few competitive districts that overlap, as shown in the map below. Chief among those is HD 61, where EveryDistrict-endorsed candidate Christine Morse is running to claim a blue-leaning Kalamazoo district that Governor Whitmer won in 2018.

The thick black line shows the outline of CD6, with four potential flip opportunities for Democrats within it. EveryDistrict has already endorsed Christine Morse in HD 61, highlighted in yellow.

3. A Broad, but Challenging Statewide Map

Zooming out across the state, our EveryDistrict competitiveness map shows the intriguing challenge that the Michigan House represents in 2020. There are a substantial number of districts throughout the state that favor Republicans by 5-10 points. Democrats could build a more robust majority by targeting a few of these districts for an upset victory in what we hope will be a big year for Team Blue. High on our list is HD 104, where EveryDistrict-endorsed candidate Dan O’Neil is running. Governor Whitmer narrowly lost this Traverse City-based district and O’Neil came within a point two years ago against an incumbent.

Yellow districts show the three districts where EveryDistrict has already made endorsements; pink districts represent other competitive districts we’re watching. This full state map shows the statewide opportunity to flip districts in Michigan this year. Learn more about these districts by visiting our interactive map:

As with all the other states we’ve profiled, winning in Michigan in 2020 is critical to Democratic power in the next decade. To support our initial batch of endorsed Michigan candidates, click here to make a donation.

* The Michigan State Senate is not on the ballot this year.