Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Few Thoughts on the 2014 General Election Results

First things first. Here are this year's results for Wolverine Lake Village Council.

The candidates with the top three vote totals get a four-year term. Fourth place gets a two-year term. We had five candidates for the four total slots this year:

  • John A. Magee, 882 votes, 24.6% (Four-year term)
  • Michael Stack, 778 votes, 21.7% (Four-year term)
  • Mark Duff, 695 votes, 19.4% (Four-year term)
  • Ed Sienkiewicz, 657 votes, 18.3% (Two-year term)
  • Ron Cumbo, 560 votes, 15.6%
  • WRITE-IN, 13 votes, 0.36%

Thank you to everybody who supported me -- most especially my dedicated campaign staff of Monique and Katie the Beagle who hand-delivered a ton of flyers around the village over the last few weeks. (Monique also did a lot of other stuff that was less fun than walking around the neighborhood: formatting and typesetting the flyers, keeping track of the campaign account, and putting up with a distracted husband for the last couple of months. Katie the Beagle's other contributions included a lot of naps.)

I shall of course immediately seize upon my first-place finish as a mandate for my program to replace our current police vehicles with low-mileage old Jaguar XJ8Ls.

What? That wasn't what you voted for?!

Keep that outrage in mind when all my fellow politicos who were elected yesterday seize upon the results as a mandate to do crazy-ass things they never mentioned during the campaign. (My Jaguar cop-car program makes perfect sense, though. The Jaguars have more legroom than our aging Dodge Chargers, but cost much less than a new Chevy Tahoe.)

Moving outside of Wolverine Lake, let's take a look at the Michigan results. How about we start by tallying up the results of the Michigan House of Representatives voting? (Numbers tallied from the Detroit Free Press Election Results site.)

  • Republican Party, 1,457,867 (48.6%)
  • Democratic Party, 1,526,453 (50.8%)
  • Other, 17,827 (0.6%)

Congratulations, Michigan Democratic Party! Despite losing the gubernatorial election you managed to win back the Michigan House of Represent ... oh, wait a minute ... sez here that the Republicans lead 60-47 in state house seats and have small leads in the three seats still undecided.

(If this was a Hanna-Barbara cartoon Scooby Doo would be doing an adorable double-take right about now. Alas, this is the cartoon that we call our legislative electoral system in this state.)

That's what a gerrymander looks like. You win the most votes, and you have double-digit deficit in the results that matter.

Well, how'd things go for the Democrats in the Michigan State Senate?

  • Republican Party, 1,518,102 (50.4%)
  • Democratic Party, 1,469,332 (48.9%)
  • Other, 22,626 (0.8%)

Gosh, sorry about your close defeat there Democrats. Still, that's going to give you a very narrowly divided chamber. That should really give a lot of clout to the moderates from each party who ... oh, darn. There's that pesky gerrymander again. The Republicans will have an enormous supermajority of 27 state senators to just 11 for the Democrats. There's one seat up for recount, but the Republican candidate has a sixty vote lead that'll probably hold up. Get ready for a lot of far-right bills coming out of our State Senate for the next four years.

I absolutely hate to say it as an elected official, but when people tell me that they don't bother to vote because the system is rigged -- in a lot of cases they're right.

This off-year election was the year that hammer of the post-2010 gerrymander really struck home in Michigan. It's going to be a loooooong decade for Michigan Democrats.

My other Michigan post-election observations seem fairly minor by comparison. I could do some Wednesday-morning quarterbacking of Mark Schauer's gubernatorial campaign, since I thought some of their messaging was off-target and a bit tone deaf. But overall I thought he was a good candidate who ran a decent campaign. This wasn't a drubbing at the polls, it was a close (51%-47%) loss. I had the chance to meet Schauer in a couple of smaller venues way back at the start of the campaign and he struck me as a decent guy who went into public service for all the right reasons. So I hope he finds a good venue for that.

I was genuinely pleased that Gary Peters won the US Senate seat. That outcome seemed pre-ordained given the polls and the dismal campaign run by his opponent, but you never know until the votes are counted. But I think he'll be a good Senator for all of us in Michigan. He's another guy I got to meet early on in the campaign ... I actually ate lunch next to him at a fundraising barbecue and we ended up discussing dog parks. (That's probably a sign I've been in municipal government too long ... there I am sitting with a future US Senator and what do I want to talk about? Dog parks.)

Nationally? Eh, if you're enough of a political junkie to read this far you've probably already read more punditry than anybody could want to about the national outcome. Overall, I thought it was a pretty typical sixth-year, mid-term election for the party with a sitting president, though the final results were a bit worse than I hoped. Losing the Senate hurts.

My guess is that Obama spends his last two years in office vetoing a lot of awful stuff. I hope I'm wrong, and something useful for all of us gets accomplished. (How about a roads-and-bridges bill, everybody?! Anybody? [Crickets]) But I don't see anything in the continuing disappearance of moderates from both parties that makes me think we'll see anything useful in DC in the next couple of years.

Final thought on the election? If there was one thing that I felt lacking in Democratic candidate campaigns across the ticket and across the country it was a real lack of a positive vision for America. That matters. Far too many Democrats this year defined themselves in opposition to whatever the farthest right wing of the GOP was doing or saying. There's plenty to oppose there, so I understand the urge. But that's an excellent way to lose on Election Day.

So here's my free advice to anybody, anywhere who wants to run for office.

Tell people what you want to do in that office. Don't be afraid to give them details. Tell them what you stand for and where you want to take us and make *that* the basis of your campaign. That's called leadership. You don't get it from consultants. And you don't get it from user-testing campaign slogans. You get it from your heart. 

If you're going to campaign, campaign from your heart.


  1. I whole-heartedly concur sir. I am not happy with either party right now, and although I didn't like Peters, I thought Terry Lynn Land was ill equipped to serve in that position. I wish they would put aside partisan ideals and do something to help the people that put them there. I hated all the political ads because of the blatant lies and half truths for both sides. I am conservative, but if a candidate is working for the good of all I will vote for that person regardless of political leanings. You said it right, Mr. President when you said "Campaign from the heart" Your neighbor; Steve

  2. XJ8Ls huh? I like it! (But I may have to re-work the graphics!)