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Michigan Votes 2014

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It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta of our It's Just Politics team gave us a list of five things to watch just before the election. Now we look at results and break down just what happened on election day.

1. How well did Snyder do in Detroit? Governor Snyder did better in Detroit than he did four years ago. He did not seem to pay a political price in the city for the Detroit takeover and bankruptcy. However, it's hard to know if this is an endorsement of Snyder or simply a result of the falloff in Democratic voting.

Ups and downs in voter turnout in Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The number we're talking about is the percentage of the population old enough to vote.

Less than half of those people showed up at the polls on Election Day in Michigan.

Voter turnout for this year's election came in at 41.6%. In Michigan's last gubernatorial election four years ago, 42.9% of the voting age population turned up to vote.

Michigan's secretary of state's office reports that about 3.2 million votes were cast Tuesday - around 83,000 fewer than in the 2010 midterm election.

To find a lower turnout stat for midterm or presidential elections, you have to go back to 1990 in Michigan.

Here's a chart showing the history of voter turnout in Michigan since 1948. It shows gubernatorial election years and presidential election years. Presidential elections traditionally draw more people to the polls - hence the zig-zag. (The Pew Research Center has more on why that is.)

The chart:

This cartogram depicts 2012 election results. It's a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman / Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Here are the election results for the races we're watching here at Michigan Radio.

Please go to your county's election page for more detailed results in your area.

You can also find information about the races not listed below on the Secretary of State's general elections website.

Winners will be in bold.

(NPR has national results here.)

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor Public School voters have rejected a proposal to annex Whitmore Lake Public Schools.

Scott Menzel heads the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

He says it's hard to know what will happen next.

“We've got an Ann Arbor (School) Board election. They'll have at least two new board members on the board and they'll have to decide what they want to do,” Menzel said. “With respect to Whitmore Lake, they're going to go back to the drawing board and do what they need to stay out of deficit.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Grand Rapids, Flint and Kalamazoo approved changes to their city charters.

Kalamazoo voters approved proposals that will change the way their mayor and city commissioners are elected. The mayor will be elected separately from the rest of the city commission and commissioners will serve longer terms.

Flint voters split on six proposed changes to the way their city runs. Voters rejected proposals to eliminate the city’s ombudsman office, the city’s civil service commission and several departments.   

Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.
MI SOS

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has defeated Democratic challenger Godfrey Dillard in her bid for a second four-year term as Michigan's top elections and driver services official.

Johnson is a former Oakland County register of deeds and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2006. She was elected secretary of state in 2010.

This year, Johnson has campaigned on her efforts to improve Michigan motor vehicle registration and driver's license system.

She says she plans to build on efforts to improve online services and reduce the waiting in line that long has been the complaint of Michigan motorists.

Dillard is a prominent civil rights lawyer and campaigned on making voting easier.

Libertarian James Lewis, U.S. Taxpayers' Robert Gale and Natural Law Party's Jason Robert Gatties also were on Tuesday's ballot.

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette

Republican Bill Schuette has been re-elected to a second term as Michigan's attorney general.

Schuette defeated Democrat Mark Totten and other candidates in Tuesday's general election.

The 61-year-old Schuette is a former congressman, state lawmaker and state appeals judge. He has campaigned heavily on being tough on crime.

He has supported funding to process thousands of untested rape evidence kits in Detroit, targeted human trafficking and pushed Michigan lawmakers to pass a school safety program.

Schuette also appealed a federal judge's ruling that Michigan's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and supported a U.S. Supreme Court decision in April that upheld the state's ban on using race as a factor in college admissions.

Totten is a Michigan State University associate law professor and former special U.S. attorney.

American flag fluttering against a blue sky
Corey Seeman/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

We're following the races as they're called. You can see results here, and we have a rolling summary of results below.

You can also follow our team as they tweet from the Republican and Democratic parties in Michigan:

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder has been reelected to a second term.

Snyder was first elected governor in 2010. During Snyder’s first term, he oversaw major tax reforms that largely shifted the burden from business to individuals. He also appointed the emergency manager that’s ushering Detroit through bankruptcy.

Democratic challenger Mark Schauer represented Michigan’s 7th Congressional District from 2009-2011.

Updated at 12:00 p.m. ET on Nov. 6.

We've compiled a list of the incumbent candidates in the House, Senate and governors races that lost seats tonight. We will update this list throughout the night as the calls come in. You can keep up with NPR's live election coverage at election.npr.org and follow NPR News and NPR Politics on Twitter.

House Republican Incumbents Who Lost (3)

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

As election results come in – Michigan Democrats are keeping a close eye on state House races. They believe they take control of the state House in 2015.

Democrat Mark Schauer hopes if he’s elected governor tonight that he’ll have a Democratic House to work with.

“I think it would reflect a new set of priorities for Michigan and a different set of values and a different approach, one that really does put people first, realizing that we have to rebuild our middle class.”

Democrats would need to gain control of seven seats currently held by Republicans to have a majority. According to the Gongwer news service, Democrats are within reach in ten state House races.

A fall leaf on Election Day.
Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

Across the state, voters have had a chance to weigh in on a variety of issues this election season.

We have updates for you on the major races in Michigan, but if you want to know more about the local races in your area, you'll need to check your county elections page.  

To review your county's page, right-click on the map below and select "open link in new tab [or window]":

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There will be a lot to keep an eye on tomorrow, so our It’s Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta are breaking down for us the five things to look for on Election Day.

1. How well Gov. Rick Snyder does in Detroit. Pluta equates the election, in part, to a referendum on the governor's Detroit rescue plan, the bankruptcy, and the path forward. Gov. Snyder is not expected to win in Detroit, which is heavily Democratic.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters will decide races for governor, a U.S. Senate seat, members of Congress and other elected offices on Tuesday. 

But many won’t bother to vote on non-partisan races and questions on the ballot.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says many voters just forget.

“Some people when they vote for one party or another, which is about 60% of the population, they don’t realize that there is more to the ballot,” says Johnson.

Over the past few months, Michigan Radio hosted live call-in shows with the candidates for Michigan governor and U.S. Senate.

The broadcasts were part of the Michigan Public Radio Network’s “Michigan Calling” series of 2014 election specials.

Rick Pluta, the Michigan Public Radio Network’s state Capitol bureau chief, hosted each hour-long program.

Listeners had the choice of calling in or submitting questions via Facebook at “Michigan Calling,” or Twitter using the hashtag: #MICalling.

You can watch or listen to the programs below.

Flag at half-staff near the Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

We asked you to share one word that best describes your feeling about Election Day.

Based on the responses, it looks like most people are somewhere between hopeful, nervous, and "meh."

We had a strict one word limit, but one new voter managed to get around the rule to express their excitement.

"omgitsmyfirsttimevotingijustturned18andgotmyvoterregistrationzomg!!!"

You can share your word here, excited or not.

Here are the words bubbling to the top:

Polling place.
Stephen Velasco / Flickr

Tomorrow is Election Day. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Michigan.

Candidates are out making their final push. Mostly, they just want you to get out of your house and vote.

Not a lot of people go out and vote during midterm elections. In our last midterm election, less than half of Michigan's registered voters cast a ballot.

When you head to the polls tomorrow, your ballot is going to be long. Here are two quick links to get your started from the Michigan Secretary of State:

The long campaign for Michigan governor comes to an end today.

The candidates are making one final push before voters have their say on Election Day on Tuesday.

The candidates for governor are both trying to build momentum heading into tomorrow’s election.

Democrat Mark Schauer spent the weekend riding in a recreational vehicle, traveling from city to city, from the Upper Peninsula to Jackson. He says it’s a “blitz to the finish”.

2012 election results as depticted by a cartogram - a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman / Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Next week, we'll chart another course for our democracy by heading to the voting booth.

By this time next week, we'll know which party will rule the day in Congress and in our state Legislature. We'll also know who Michigan's next governor will be.

So how are you feeling about this big day?

I'm sure we could all take a lot of time to articulate exactly how we're feeling about next Tuesday, but can we find one word that captures it?

That's the challenge we're putting to you here:

macombpolitics.blogspot

An ad run by Democrat Bobby Mckenzie in Michigan's 11th Congressional District race won a dubious distinction recently.  The Washington Post called it "one of the most brutal attack ads you'll ever see."

"Foreclosure King David Trott has made millions foreclosing on Michigan's families," says a narrator, over a slightly ominous soundtrack.  "Trott profited from human misery as tens of thousands of Michiganders were evicted from their homes."

Voters will get to weigh in on two laws that allowed gray wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.
Anders Illum / flickr.com

Michigan voters will get to weigh in on two laws that allowed wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.

The Humane Society just started airing ads aimed at persuading voters in the closing days of the campaign season, but whether people vote “yes” or “no” on wolf hunting, the two ballot questions are not the final word on the issue.

That’s because the ballot campaign on its own will not determine the future of wolf hunting in Michigan.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio Network

Michiganders age 50 and over are expected to represent well over half of the voters that show up to the polls on November 4.

That is pretty typical of a non-presidential election. But seniors and retirees are already playing an especially important role in this year’s election.

Perry Seavitt, a 70 year old retired teacher from Freemont, considers himself a Republican. But he is not sure which candidate for governor will get his vote. He says he is leaning toward Democrat Mark Schauer because incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder decided to start taxing retiree pensions.

We are now a week and a half away from Election Day and this is the breakout time in any campaign season. The closing days when candidates and campaigns make their final pitches to try and close the deal with voters.

Although a lot of voters have already voted. As many as a third of the ballots in Election 2014 will be absentee ballots filled out before November 4th actually arrives.

Closing Arguments Coming Earlier

And that means as many as a third of Michigan voters have already made up their minds and won’t wait for November and the campaigns’ closing arguments. The fact that so many voters now use absentee ballots has pushed up the late-campaign attack ads; the ones that are really jarring.

Bobby McKenzie, Democrat running in Michigan’s 11th Congressional district, recently released an ad attacking his Republican opponent David Trott. It’s an ad that The Washington Post called “one of the most brutal attack ads you’ll even see.”

In the race for governor, few things are disputed more than education funding under Gov. Rick Snyder. Challenger Mark Schauer claims Snyder cut funding by a billion dollars. Snyder has called that a lie and says he’s added a billion dollars. They’re both sort of right and they’re both wrong.

“Both sides have truth. Neither is lying, per se,” said Mitch Bean.

He is a former director of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency. That’s a nonpartisan agency within the Michigan House of Representatives. Now he’s a consultant and he’s been looking at the budgets to try to find out exactly what has happened to money for schools.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

Update 11:20 a.m.

As predicted, the debate rages on.

Tons of people have written about this issue over the last year, and today the Citizens Research Council released some more analysis on this question, so we thought we'd add their findings to this post we published last May. (Our investigative reporter, Lester Graham, is also looking into this question and will have more for us in the coming weeks.)

What did the Citizens Research Council find?

You can read the full-report here, but in short they tackled these three questions:

The bottom of the ballot is often ignored. That’s where the non-partisan races are located and includes candidates running for Michigan Supreme Court. Bridge Magazine’s Truth Squad recently reviewed a radio ad being aired on behalf of two of the candidates running for the three open seats.

Incumbent Justices David Viviano and Brian Zahra were both put on the court by Gov. Rick Snyder.

A radio ad sponsored by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce makes this statement:

“Viviano and Zahra use common sense on Michigan’s Supreme Court. They’re rule-of-law judges.”

That statement colors the rest of the ad.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

Watch the only debate in the 2014 Michigan governor's race below.

The one-hour, town-hall-style debate took place between Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer last night at 6 p.m.

The forum included an audience of undecided voters asking questions to both candidates and was televised from Wayne State University.

You can watch it below. (If you're having trouble seeing the video below, try this link.)

Or you can listen to the audio here:

Politicians like to take credit for improving the economy, and challengers like to blame sitting officials for damaging it. In the race for governor in Michigan there have been plenty of both those kinds of accusations. Lester Graham with Michigan Watch examines how much politicians can really affect the economy.

Outside a Michigan WORKS! employment office, I asked a few unemployed people if they thought any state politician could make a difference in creating jobs.

Davina Carey has been out of work since June. “Hopefully," she said, laughing. "I mean, I don’t know.”

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta sat down with the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Terri Lynn Land  on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014.

She took questions from our statewide audience.

Terri Lynn Land served two terms as Michigan’s 41st Secretary of State (2003-2010). Land was elected to the Republican National Committee. She is a graduate of Grandville High School, and went to Hope College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

Lynn’s Democratic opponent in the race for U.S. Senator is Gary Peters. To listen to our Michigan Calling program with Peters, go here.

The Truth Squad at Bridge magazine has had a busy summer looking at ads in the race for governor. The close race between Republican Rick Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer has meant many ads on TV and online. Some are just not true. Others are slightly misleading. We went over a couple of them with the Truth Squad’s editor.

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