Saturday, November 06, 2010

Analysis: Governor

Republican Rick Snyder trounced democrat Virg Bernero in the race for Michigan governor. Snyder won 58.1% to Bernero's 39.9%. Snyder won all but five counties (Wayne, Genesse, Washtenaw, Ingham, Gogebic) and he was within 5% in the last four of these. He topped out at 79.1% in Ottowa, 76.7% in Missaukee, and 75% in Livingston County. See county-by-county results here:
NY Times: Michigan election results

Snyder benefited from a national anti-democrat tide and an even stronger such tide in Michigan after eight years of misrule under Granholm and company.

Virg Bernero's anti-business demagoguery looked like more of the same. Rick Snyder appealed to the public as someone from the business world who could create jobs. He was rather vague about the specifics of what it would mean to "reinvent Michigan". Snyder wisely avoided debates as much as possible, which would have played to Bernero's strength, but he held his own in their one debate.

Four years ago, dubious charges of outsourcing and anti-rich class warfare helped Jennifer Granholm defeat Dick DeVos. Four years and no jobs later, voters weren't falling for the same trick again.

Snyder was fortunate to face a weak opponent. Bernero had little name recognition and struggled to raise money. Trailing badly in the polls, he saw potential donors send their money to other more winnable races.

Snyder self-funded his campaign, at least for the primary, but smartly avoided spending too much. He spent enough to get out his message, but not so much that he alienated voters. He avoid the trap that Meg Whitman, Linda McMahon, and many previous self-funders fell into.

Did Snyder's moderation help the Republican ticket? This blog thinks so, but not for the reason one might think. The conventional line from moderates is that Republicans should nominate moderates to appeal to centrist voters. This blog has argued, citing substantial evidence, that Republicans win by nominating conservatives and motivating their base to turn out. This is what happened nationally thanks to the Tea Party movement, as well as in Michigan. Instead, Snyder helped Republicans because democrats were not motivated to turn out to vote against someone so bland and unthreatening.

This blog has not been a big fan of Snyder, due to his vagueness and some liberal positions. But the unexpectedly large Republican majorities in the legislature should help to check Snyder's more liberal impulses.

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