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15 Races Most Likely To Flip — No Presidential Coattails In 2016

October 11, 2016

State House candidates in competitive districts who believe Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are going to carry them over the finish line may be in a for a rude awakening in 2016 based on Target Insyght polling conducted for MIRS and GCSI.

In the 10 state House districts polled, the political party of the presidential candidate winning in that district only matched the political party of the winning state House candidate five times or half the time.

With more voters choosing against a presidential candidate as opposed to voting for a presidential candidate, the polling showed voters skipping all over the ballot. Trump is winning big up north, but Democratic 1st Congressional candidate Lon Johnson is running competitively with Republican Jack Bergman, for example.

The 2016 elections are shaping up to be individual affairs. Unlike 2008, 2010 or even 2012 to some extent, Nov. 8 isn’t coming with a partisan wave.

Rather, the Target Insyght polling indicates voter enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats are both down. It’s independents that Ed Sarpolus of Target Insyght says are showing the same type of enthusiasm as years past.

If this holds true, Democrats’ bid to secure the nine seats needed for majority becomes more difficult because the polling also showed that, with some exceptions, the House Republican candidates are well known and well liked.

With that backdrop and armed with polling data, MIRS is re-ranking its Top 15 House seats most likely to flip as follows:

1. 30th District (R to D) — *4

Yup, Trump is up in Macomb County, but so is Democratic candidate Michael Notte. He’s slightly better known and slightly better liked based on the Target Insyght data. Maybe it’s because Richard Notte was Sterling Heights’ mayor for 22 years and Rep. Jeff Farrington (R-Utica) was only able to serve for six.

Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), the head of the House Democratic Fund, went as far to say of this district on Tuesday, Notte “is definitely going to win.”

Got it.

2. 91st District (R to D) — *1

Let’s say Republican-turned-Libertarian Max Rieske takes 300 votes away from Rep. Holly Hughes (R-Montague). In a presidential year, that’s 300 votes too many for the Republican nominee in this Muskegon County-based district.

3. 99th District (R to D) — *5

The polling has this district neck-and-neck, but Mielke has more money and more opportunities to expand his universe of voters within the campus of Central Michigan University (CMU). That said, if Democrats can’t win this district this year with his high-quality candidate, they can count on not winning it in 2018 or 2020.

4. 106th District (R to D) — *12

Robert Kennedy? Yes, Robert Kennedy! The Democrats’ blessing in disguise is trouncing Sue Allor by 10 points in the Target Insyght poll, a margin not repeated by any other House candidate in the nine other polls we commissioned. Look, we paid for the poll. These are the results we got. This is looking good for the D’s. No other way to look at it.

5. 24th District (R to D) — *7

Let’s turn the verbal dirt the Democrats have on Steve Marino into a football analogy. This is 40-yard pass in mid air. The receiver is wide open. No defender within 10 yards. Unless the receiver trips over his shoe laces, loses the ball in the sun, starts celebrating too early or a defender turns into Speedy Gonzales, this is a touchdown for Democrats.

6. 23rd District (R to D) — *3 

Maybe some of the more baffling data came out of the 23rd House District. Democrat Darrin Camilleri has 43/25 percent favorability numbers. Republican Robert Howey isn’t known by 44 percent of the district, yet Howey is up 48 to 43 percent. The reason? Howey is leading 56 to 23 percent among Independents. All of the sudden, this may not be the slam-dunk districts. Democrats thought initially.

7. 62nd District (R to D) — *2

The political demise of Rep. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek) may have been greatly exaggerated. Forget about the ridiculously high Democratic base number of the 62nd District a minute. The good doctor has a 63 percent favorable rating, the highest rating of any House candidate from any of the 10 districts polled.

Among Independents, Bizon is up 58 to 23 percent. Democratic candidate Jim Haadmsa’s favorability numbers among Independents is 26/35.

8. 101st District (R to D) — *9

Does this Northern Michigan race look any more favorable for Democrats than it did last month when it was No. 9? Not really. It’ll probably be a dogfight between Democrat Dan Scripps and Republican Curt VanderWall to the end, based on the attacks and counter-attacks the two are engaged in. Flip a coin. 

9. 108th District (R to D) — *8

The polling doesn’t look particularly good for Democratic candidate Scott Celello, but the Democrats aren’t giving up this open seat quite yet. That said, Beau LaFave’s newest television ad is really good.

10. 39th District (R to D) — *14

For not being well known by 52 percent of those polled, Democrat Michael Stack is only down 46 to 42 percent against a candidate in Rep. Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp.) that Democrats feel will underperform.

11. 20th District (R to D) — *10 

Democrat Colleen Pobur is down five points to Republican Jeff Noble, but she’s not known by 59 percent of those polled and not known by 70 percent of Democrats. There’s a lot of opportunity for growth here if money is spent wisely. Democrats have Noble on tape agreeing with a person who claims to support privatizing social security and raising the retirement age. We’ll see how much mileage that gets them.

12. 61st District (R to D) — *6 

We’re moving this race back down the list until we see what alleged dirt the Democrats have on Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Portage) and we’re convinced Democrat John Fisher is running an efficient, winning campaign.

13. 66th District (R to D) — *15 

Is there a reason why Republican Beth Griffin used her county commission web address to conduct political business? The longer she delays a reaction on this, the longer the question remains on why she felt that was a good idea.

14. 71st District (R to D) — *11

Things could obviously change, but with former Rep. Theresa Abed’s unfavorable rating at a 46 percent and Rep. Tom Barrett’s favorable rating at 57 percent, Barrett’s 49 to 43 percent edge at this point puts him on pretty solid footing. We’ll see if Democrats’ attack on Barrett supporting the insurance industry’s $80 million tax loophole eats into any of these numbers.

15. 57th District (R to D) — *NR

Let’s remember that Democrat Harvey Schmidt’s loss in the General Election was during the Republican wave year. That said, former Adrian Senior Center Director Bronna Kahle has run an impressive campaign thus far.

Dropped Out: 56th District. Rep. Jason Sheppard’s (R-Lambertville) looks like he’s found a solid issue in car insurance rate reduction for his Ohio border district.

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