Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Michigan PoliLinks

The charges and counter-charges are flying fast and furious. It's like Top Gun for political geeks – and reality is as upside-down as that Russian jet that Viper stared down. Welcome to the last week of campaigning. (And if you happen to own a TV station, congratulations on the windfall!)


A lot of voters have short memories. Progress Michigan is making sure people get reminded about the incredible mess created in our prisons by the privatization zeal of The Accountant in Chief who continues to "work with Aramark".

Totten: Experience vs. Partisan Crusades

The new Mark Totten TV ad goes to the heart of the campaign: it pits an experienced, capable prosecutor who focuses on protecting Michigan's citizens against a career politician who uses his office for Quixotic political lawsuits.

“This ad points to the core issue of this race,” said John Keig, Totten's campaign manager, “The voters of Michigan have a clear choice between a candidate with a proven record of serving the public and keeping them safe, or a politician using this office to pursue his own right-wing agenda.”
In the ad, Totten highlights two examples from his time as a federal prosecutor that have kept Michigan families safe and helped give victims justice. Mark helped put away Timothy Sims, convicted of trying produce child pornography, and Eric Wendlandt, who ran a fraudulent scheme stealing from seniors and families.
This is sharply contrasted with Bill Schuette's work on the Hobby Lobby case to deny women access to contraception and his lawsuit against the federal government that could raise taxes on half a million Michigan families by $5,000. The ad concludes with Totten asking “His experience or mine? You decide.”
One week out from Election Day, recent polls have shown that Bill Schuette has been unable to earn the support of more than 45% of voters, let alone a clear majority. Having that little support is remarkable for an incumbent, and often attributed to Schuette's prominent focus on cases that score political points with the far right of his party.

Polls 'R' Us

The latest Detroit News polls:
Gary Peters locking up what could become a landslide victory over What's Her Name the Mom, with a 15-point lead (48-33%) but with 12% undecided just a week out (7% of those polled selected a third-party candidate). The margin of error is ±4%. Peters picks up the support of 23% self-identified Republicans, and a 23-point lead among independents.
Mark Schauer trailing Rick Snyder 45-40%. Schauer holds a six-point lead among seniors, a group that typically turns out in high numbers. 10% remain undecided: 30% of them Democrats, 52% independents. Undecided voters generally break in favor of the challenger.
Mark Totten is closing in on Bill "On Duty" Schuette. Totten, unknown to virtually all voters a few months ago, trails the 30-year career politician by just four points (38-34%) with 21% undecided.
Godfrey Dillard trails incumbent Ruth Johnson 41-33% for Secretary of State, with 22% undecided.
Meanwhile, the latest Rasmussen polls show the gubernatorial race within the margin of error (49-46% Snyder), and Peters ahead of Land 51-42%. The Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted October 20-22.


The big unknown remains voter turnout. Early indications are for higher-than-normal absentee voting, with a significant number of A/V voters low-frequency voters. That group generally leans heavily Democratic.
Michigan Democratic Party chair Lon Johnson has placed huge resources into getting Democrats to the polls in numbers approaching the turnout that gave Barack Obama a 10-point victory over Mitt Romney in 2012. A big part of the strategy is neighbor-to-neighbor contact.
This week, thousands of party members are receiving lists of 10 neighbors to contact. The 10 have been identified as likely Democratic voters who voted in 2012 but did not vote in 2010. Included in the package are flyers denouncing the conservative agenda's impact on Michigan.

Rigging the Presidential Election

If you can't win by following the rules, change the rules. That's the operating philosophy of the Republican Party. Voter suppression is a part of the plan: make it tougher for seniors, urban dwellers and college students to vote.
Gerrymandering is another tactic: since they control state government, they were able to draw legislative and congressional districts in a way that gives them the ability to get fewer votes but still win more elections. In 2012, Democrats received 54% of the votes for the state House of Representatives (to 46% for Republicans), but Republicans won 54% of the elections (59-51 majority). In the vote for Congress, Democrats won the popular vote 50.3%-46.2%, but Republicans won 9 out of 14 races (64-36%). That's legalized fixing of elections.
Another way to rig elections will likely be enacted in the "lame duck" session. Instead of awarding all of Michigan's 16 electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most vote, Republicans will award electoral votes district-by-district (with 2 votes going to the overall winner).
In 2012, Barack Obama won Michigan 55-45% (450,000 vote margin) over Mitt Romney. But had the GOP plan been in effect, Romney would have received nine electoral votes to Obama's seven. Why? Because the congressional districts are rigged to let Republicans win even when they lose.
Susan J. Demas' column today in mLive talks about this latest election rigging, and the impact it will have on Michigan's influence in the 2016 presidential race. It isn't a pretty story.

The Rise of the Gray Wolf

The Legislature did everything it could to take away our right to vote on the issue, but there are TWO ballot proposals relating to hunting of the once-endangered species.
Here is the most important thing to know: the ballot language is confusing. If you oppose allowing the Legislature and appointed DNR to approve wolf-hunting for the sheer fun of killing the animals, vote NO on both proposals.
Now, pro-hunting types will say that language is prejudiced against "sportsmen." 
To me, a sportsperson is someone who hunts for either 1) food (think venison), or 2) to control a significant nuisance (think rodents).
It is has always been legal to hunt wolves that are killing livestock or pets, or that pose a threat to humans. That's not the issue. And you don't eat wolf meat. A limited wolf hunt won't have an impact on the economy. So shooting an animal that isn't posing a threat is hunting for the fun of killing the animal.
The story of the recovery of the wolf population is complicated, much more complicated than the simplistic (and generally false) claims of wolf-hunting proponents. Two years ago, Lansing State Journal reporting Louise Knott Ahern wrote an outstanding extended story on the gray wolf's history in Michigan.
It is well worth the read.

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