Kalamazoo County swinging to Democrats, both parties agree
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Among the worrisome trends for local Republicans:A couple statements in the article are erroneous. Mary Balkema is not considering switching parties.
The highly regarded organization of the Obama campaign means local Democrats now have extensive lists of supporters and volunteers as well as a structure that can be remobilized in the future. "We now have a permanent precinct organization, a permanent set of people in the neighborhoods talking to people about the issues," Pawloski said.
The Obama campaign also generated high enthusiasm among young voters, who overwhelmingly supported Obama. Research indicates that voters continue to identify with the party that captured their first presidential vote, and that could have an impact on local politics for years to come.
This election showed a significant shift in straight-ticket voting that favored Democrats. Kalamazoo County voters opting for a straight Democratic ballot went from 22 percent of the electorate in 2004 to 27 percent this year, while straight Republican ballots dropped from 25 percent to 19 percent of ballots cast.
Balkema said that straight-ticket votes were a factor in her race. "I could have run against Jerry the Clown and I would have had the same problem," she said. "It was amazing that I won at all."
Barack Obama won 58 percent of the vote countywide, including 54 percent in Portage. Democrats were undefeated in Kalamazoo, Oshtemo and Comstock townships, creating Democratic majorities on three township boards for the first time in Kalamazoo County. Even the sole candidate for Wakeshma Township supervisor ran on the Democratic ticket.A democratic candidate for trustee in Comstock was defeated. Democrats do not have the majority in Oshtemo, as they contested only three of the seven races.
Nonetheless, it is true that the trends are against Republicans. Republicans must redouble their efforts to win in 2010.