Tensions Rise as Election Day Draws Close

Election day is less than a week away, and the intensity of Michigan elections is in full swing. Notably, the gubernatorial election between current governor, Gretchen Whitmer, and her Republican opponent, Tudor Dixon. Whitmer has a five-point lead in current polls, but Michigan has swapped between red and blue in many recent elections, and the close polling leaves a lot undecided. Michigan voted for Trump in 2016, but Biden in 2020, and this election could indicate which way the state leans for 2024. This election is also historic because it is the first time two women are running for governor in the state of Michigan. 

Dixon’s campaign is focused on supporting the economy, the Second Amendment, the pro-life movement, reducing crime and more. Whitmer’s campaign is focused on infrastructure investments, creating jobs, investing in education and community colleges, reproductive rights and more. Debates between Whitmer and Dixon have been heated, with the two disagreeing on a multitude of topics. The two have notably clashed on school safety, an important issue, especially with last winter’s tragic school shooting at Oxford High School. Whitmer emphasized stricter gun laws, including background checks and secure storage. Dixon supported more security at schools, and Dixon maintains support from the National Rifle Association. Dixon added that library books containing content regarding sex and gender were also harmful to students. Whitmer, as a former prosecutor, sharply disagreed with this, saying that guns were far more dangerous. 

An important issue on the ballot is abortion rights. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the right to abortion is now up to states. In Michigan, a 1931 trigger law was activated that bans all abortions, even in the cases of rape and incest. A court ruling has since blocked this law from taking effect. However, a proposal for an amendment to the state’s constitution has allowed for voters to choose whether abortion rights can be protected by the state’s constitution. Proposal 3’s title states, “A proposal to amend the state constitution to establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make all decisions about pregnancy and abortion; allow state to regulate abortion in some cases; and forbid prosecution of individuals exercising established right.” A “yes” vote on this amendment is in favor of providing a state right to reproductive freedom, while a “no” vote is opposing an amendment being added about reproductive rights, according to Ballotpedia. If the “no” vote receives a majority, this may cause the 1931 trigger law to be upheld. Abortion rights has been a major focal point of the election, with Whitmer supporting reproductive rights and a “yes” vote on Proposal 3, and Dixon opposing. Currently in Michigan, abortion is allowed up until the point of viability (24 weeks into a pregnancy), with the only exception after that point being the life of the mother. Should Proposal 3 be accepted, abortions will be legally provided at any point in a pregnancy. Discussions about reproductive freedom and abortion care have also led to questions regarding contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, and other reproductive rights and measures.

With high inflation, the economy was also an important topic. Dixon criticized Whitmer’s response to inflation and she supports repealing the state’s income tax over time. Whitmer questioned how this would allow the state to properly fund the state’s budget, and added that her administration plans to reduce daycare and childcare costs for families. 

Former President Barack Obama campaigns for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist in Detroit on Oct. 29, 2022.

Former President Barack Obama was campaigning for Whitmer and a host of other Democrats this past week in hopes of giving Democrats in the state a final boost. Obama told a crowd in Detroit this past week, “I’m here to tell you that tuning out is not an option. We don’t have time to mope. The only way to make this economy fairer is if we work for it, all of us. The only way to save our democracy is if we work together for it, all of us.” At the same rally, Whitmer added, “There’s too much at stake to take anything for granted, any person for granted, to take any community for granted or to take any hope for granted. So please, do something every day between now and this election,” according to the Bridge Michigan. Republicans, meanwhile, pointed to Whitmer’s narrowing lead in the polls as to why Obama had joined Whitmer and other Democrats on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, Dixon has received endorsements from President Trump and numerous other Republicans. According to ABC News, the Association for Republican Governors has invested $3.7 million in support for Dixon. Additionally, Dixon has appeared on many different conservative news media platforms to campaign. 

At Hope, the election has been front and center, including events held in recent weeks centering around Proposal 3 and the upcoming election. Additionally, Hope Democrats and Hope Republicans have been closely monitoring the important elections across the country and the state. 

Clay Ihl is a Chemistry major at Hope College.

“I live close to Holland, so I can vote in person. I think that this set of midterm elections is more politicized and divided than previous midterm elections. I haven’t been able to vote in previous midterm elections because I wasn’t old enough, but this still seems more divided than ever before,” Clay Ihle (‘24) said. “It worries me because both sides of the political spectrum are rallying and it just worries me in of itself, because I think we are getting more and more divided.”

Claire Dwyer ('24) is a current Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Anchor. Joining as a News Writer fall of a freshman year, she has enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the campus community through journalism!

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