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MIRS’ final top 15 most likely to flip of ’16

November 7, 2016

Five days before Election Day and the shifting presidential dynamics have Republicans and Democrats adjusting strategies depending on how their respective presidential nominees play in various parts of the state.

But at a point when the numbers typically begin to settle in, Michigan is getting “a second look” from the presidential candidates this week, potentially stirring up House districts’ base in unexpected ways. 

For the last and final time this cycle, here are the top 15 House races most likely to flip next week, on Nov. 8. 

1. 30th District (R to D) — *1 
Republican Donald Trump’s poll numbers in this district pull well for Diana Farrington, but election-watchers say there’s just no fire in the campaign. Working off some residual favorable name ID from his father, Democratic candidate Michael Notte may be Democrats’ top shot for a pick-up. 

2. 91st District (R to D) — *2 
Among the most expensive House races this year, Republicans have poured more than $17,000 into the race in the final week to bolster incumbent Rep. Holly Hughes (R-Montague), but a shadowy group has been boosting right-leaning libertarian candidate Max Reiske in an attempt to peel Trump voters away from Hughes. Democrats hope between a presidential year and splitting the Republican vote, they can collect the few hundred votes it takes to decide this seat. 

3. 62nd District (R to D) — *8 
Rep. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek) has done everything a candidate should do to hold on through a tough re-election against challenger Jim Haadsma. If he weren’t a Republican who could be so easily tied to Trump, Bizon would be in the clear. 

4. 101st District (R to D) — *7 
Democrat Dan Scripps’ 4-point lead in a recent poll is consistent with internal results showing the former House member’s advantage is outside the margin of error. 

5. 23rd District (R to D) — *6 
Republicans have stayed positive that Trump’s message may move the Republican vote toward Bob Howey, but when Rep. Pat Somerville (R-New Boston) won re-election in a 2012 presidential year, it was by fewer than 400 votes. Short of a Trump wave, things look good for Democratic candidate Darin Camilleri. 

6. 99th District (R to D) — *3 
This was nearly a runaway for Democratic candidate Bryan Mielke with strong early fundraising. But Republican Roger Hauck, with a little guidance from the caucus, is reported to have found his feet in the general election to finish strong. Both sides agree this will be a close one. 

7. 108th District (R to D) — *9 
Republican Beau LaFave appeared to have locked up the race against Democratic candidate Scott Celello early on, but Democrats poured a lot of money into the airwaves to remind voters that Celello has experience as a county sheriff. In the last filing period before the election, Celello far outraised LaFave. 

8. 61st District (R to D) — *5 
First-term Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp.) didn’t spend much time campaigning in his district after winning the seat in 2014 and that could cost him the election. The positives are high for Democratic candidate John Fisher, a local pastor, thanks to Democrats spending a lot of time and money re-introducing him to voters. One strike against him could be he is too liberal for the district. 

9. 71st District (R to D) — *11 
Money has poured in on both sides for this race, in defense of their candidate. Rep. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) has doggedly walked the doors of the 71st District, while Democrats say 7th Congressional District candidate Gretchen Driskell’s aggressive ground game in Eaton County may give a lift to Theresa Abed. 

10. 57th District (R to D) — *13 
Democrat and local pharmacist Harvey Schmidt is well-known and well-liked in the 57th district, though Republican Bronna Kahle has worked hard for election, fighting hard in the primary. Democrats’ focus on Schmidt came late in the cycle, however — could it be a ploy to shake Republicans’ attention from more vulnerable seats? 

11. 66th District (R to D) — *12 
Democrats focus on this district also could be a red herring to draw aside Republicans’ attention from more vulnerable seats like the 61st or 62nd. Either way, the GOP is taking the bait. 

In the final weeks of the election the House Democratic fund has invested late in their candidate Annie Brown with independent expenditures. The House Republican Campaign Committee has sunk a quarter-million into Republican candidate Beth Griffin over the cycle, $97,000 of which came this week. 

12. 20th District (R to D) — *15 
Seeing an opportunity for victory, Democratic candidate Colleen Pobur has sunk her own money into going up on TV and focusing her message on college-educated women in the suburban district. If Pobur wins over Republican candidate Jeff Noble, it’ll be from pulling up on her own bootstraps. 

13. 39th District (R to D) — *14 
No one doubts this race will be close. Rep. Klint Kesto (R-Commerce Twp.) is both a strong fundraiser and stronger campaigner, raising over $200,000 this cycle, but Democrats have loaded resources behind their candidate, Michael Stack, hoping top-of-the-ticket numbers may carry them through. 

14. 106th District (R to D) — *4 
Republican candidate Sue Allor may be from the “wrong part” of the district — the Cheboygan area as opposed to the more densely populated Alpena or Presque Isle — but she’s made up for it on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, Democrat Robert Kennedy tripped up when he was caught pulling his opponent’s sign out of the ground. Kennedy also may be among those harmed by House Democrats’ introduction of an assault rifle ban just two weeks before Election Day.

15. 24th District (R to D) — *10 
Democrats in Lansing found gold in recorded audio of Republican candidate Steve Marino, but it appears to have spun into plain, old hay. Attacks on Marino resonated more in Lansing than back home in his Macomb district and Democratic candidate Dana Camphous-Peterson did little to take any advantage there was. Trump is strong in Macomb and Marino has a good shot to make it to Lansing — if a little worse for wear. 

Honorable Mention: 103rd District (R to D) — *NR 
A fresh fusion of cash into the campaign of Democrat Jordan Stancil has popped on radars in Lansing. Rep. Adam Zemke’s (D-Ann Arbor) APC, Engineering Michigan’s Future Fund, put $7,500 into Stancil’s coffers in the last week. Republican Daire Rendon has reportedly been working to take over her husband, term-limit Rep. Bruce Rendon’s (R-Lake City) seat for some time, but one can’t help but wonder what is going on up there in the northwest? Could this been a surprise flip on Tuesday night? 

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