What Actually Happened? Navigating the Michigan Midterm Madness

After polls predicted a close race between Incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Tudor Dixon, Whitmer had a definitive win on Election Day. Whitmer received over 2.4 million votes, equating to 54.5% of the vote, while Dixon received over 1.9 million votes or 43.9% of the vote. The Michigan gubernatorial results are just one aspect of a greater trend seen this election night, where Democrats generally over-performed and Republicans did not see the “Red Wave” that the GOP and many pollsters had previously anticipated. 

In Michigan, this included Democrats winning majorities in the state legislature. For the first time in 40 years, the Democrats will have full control of the state’s legislature and executive branch at the same time. Many have cited Whitmer’s success as propelling the rest of her party forward. This trend was seen in other states, such as Minnesota and Pennsylvania. These wins will allow Democrats to make significant leaps in their political agendas. 

Nessel (left) and Benson (right) provide voter education information to UM-Dearborn, Henry Ford College students.

Additionally, Democratic candidates won races for Michigan Attorney General and Secretary of State. Dana Nessel won 53.2% of the vote for Attorney General, and Jocelyn Benson won 55.9% of the vote for Secretary of State. The race for Secretary of State was particularly notable, given that the Secretary of State is in charge of elections. In a time where some deny election results, this role has gained even more prominence. 

In her victory speech, Whitmer declared, “Holding this office has been the honor of my life, and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity for the last four years,” according to ABC News. “Building a Michigan where everyone can get ahead is what really matters right now, more than ever. We are going to move this state forward and I’m excited for all the work we’re going to do together,” Whitmer said. 

Many pundits have lauded Whitmer as a major leader for the Democratic Party due to her support for Michigan Democrats during this contentious election season. Some have named her as a potential candidate for future races, such as for the 2024 presidential election. Regardless, with having greater Democratic support in the state legislature than in her first term, Whitmer will have a significant effect as governor these next four years. 

Another significant result on election night was the result of Proposal 3. Proposal 3 protects reproductive rights in Michigan, stating on the ballot, “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.” Proposal 3 was passed by a significant margin, with nearly 2.5 million votes for “Yes”, or 56.7% of the vote. As a result, abortion and other reproductive rights, such as contraception, are now protected by the state’s constitution. The highly contentious issue was at the front and center of the midterm election season, with a total of $57 million being spent leading up to the election on the issue. According to The Bridge, this was more money than any other Michigan midterm races combined. “No” advocates pushed the measure as too confusing and extreme, while “Yes” supporters said that the measure was essential for reproductive freedom. 

Now passed, Proposal 3 will add a 28th section to Article I of the Michigan Constitution.

Reproductive rights were a major issue on midterm ballots across the country, including Kentucky, California and Vermont. In every state where reproductive rights were on the ballot, voters supported measures to keep reproductive rights in place to some degree. In the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned, reproductive rights were a central issue in many voters’ minds, and according to CNN, 27% of voters listed abortion as the most important issue for them. According to Pew Research, 61% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. 

Although Roe v. Wade being overturned was a significant issue for many voters, other important issues included inflation and the economy. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, inflation and the economy was top priority for voters, with 36% saying it was the most important issue for them. The inflation rate in the US was 7.7% in October. The Republicans had hoped to capitalize on this important issue in this midterm cycle by making it a central focus of their campaigns.

Nina Cuthrell will be graduating from Hope College this December with a B.A. in Psychology.

In addition to Proposal 3, Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 also passed by wide margins, with 66.5% and 60% of the vote, respectively. Proposal 1 sets new term limits and requires financial disclosure reports, stating, “A proposal to amend the state constitution to require annual public financial disclosure reports by legislators and other state officers and change state legislator term limit to 12 total years in legislature.” Proposal 2 adds early voting, ballot drop-boxes and other voting provisions to the state’s constitution. 

For students and student groups on campus, the impact of the election results can be personal. Nina Cuthrell, president of the Women’s Empowerment Organization, discussed how the vote for Proposal 3 impacted her and WEO as a whole. “The passing of Prop 3 is a huge relief to women all over the state,” said Cuthrell. “I am extremely pleased that Michigan showed up to the polls and fought for the right to control our own bodies. Even though the right to make our own medical decisions is just the bare minimum, we are on the right path here in Michigan.”

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