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Top 10 House Districts Most Likely to Flip

March 12, 2024

Super Tuesday has come and gone and . . . SURPRISE . . . a President Joe Biden-former President Donald Trump rematch looks inevitable. To some extent, a redo of 2020 eliminates a lot of the guesswork as we move on to the 2024 election.

We all know Trump does well in Macomb County, Downriver, the rural areas of the Tri-Cities area and rural areas in general. We’ve seen the data from 2016 and 2020. Likewise, we know Trump underperforms in Oakland County, suburban Wayne and Kent counties and among political moderates.

It’s against this backdrop that MIRS presents its first Top 10 House Seats Most Likely To Flip. It’s the first under the new term limits law that allows incumbents to run for a fourth term, which works out great for the Democrats. Reps. Angela Witwer (D-Lansing), Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek) and Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights) can and are running again in competitive seats and none of the three have lost as incumbents.

Witwer has never lost an election, period.

In general, incumbents don’t lose elections, which, again, would seem to be an advantage for Democrats, BUT now they have a record to run on. It’s a progressive one. Gun control. Expanded abortion access. More wind farms and solar farms without local veto power. Try as they like, they want to make 2024 another election about a women’s reproductive rights, but after Proposal 3 cemented those rights into our state constitution, it’s hard to see abortion having the same oomph.

Instead, immigration has taken center stage, for now anyway, and that helps Republicans.

On the money front, the caucuses appear to be playing to a draw.

There’s a lot we don’t know yet. Some of these districts don’t have clear candidates. Could Bobby Kennedy Jr. become a real factor in the presidential race? Which candidates are going to put in the work? Will the immigration argument lose steam to a national issue that better suits Democrats?

But, for now, our Top 10 is a conversation starter. Keep in mind that of the first six seats we mentioned in our first Top 10 House Seats Likely To Flip in the spring of 2020, three did, indeed, flip. We amended the feature in 2022 since all the districts were new.

  1. 109thDistrict (D to R) – Before you throw out this whole list as B.S. because this Marquette-based seat has a 53 percent Dem base, hear me out. People in da U.P. are not happy with Rep. Jenn Hill (D-Marquette) over that local solar/wind farm siting vote.

She’s been roasted publicly for it in her district, and it’s earned her two primary opponents and four Republican opponents. Do you know how many other vulnerable House incumbents have even one primary opponent at this point? That’s right. Zero.

Karl Bohnak, a retired TV meteorologist of 34 years in the U.P. has filed and claims to be running as a moderate. Perennial Republican candidate Melody Wagner got 47% in 2022. Even a decent campaign by Bohnak with Trump on the ballot should get the Republican nominee more regardless of whether Hill survives the primary or not.

  1. 46thDistrict (R to D) – If only the Democrats had talked Jackson Mayor Daniel Mahoney into running in 2022 as opposed to flawed candidate Maurice Imhoff, things might have been different in a district where the demographics lean Dem. Also, this one isn’t sharply trending Republican like the 109th. Rep. Kathy Schmaltz (R-Jackson) has a public act to her name, which isn’t nothing, but what issue is she championing in Lansing that’s going to connect back home?
  2. 103rdDistrict (D to R) – Few can raise money like Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City), but without abortion driving the debate, will she enjoy the same tailwinds she did in 2022? True, the Republicans had a phenomenal candidate in former Rep. Jack O’Malley, but they have another good one in Lisa Trombley. She’s a retired government contractor with an eye-popping resume and a connection to all sorts of local organizations, many of which aren’t political.

That same solar farm vote that’s going to cause Hill problems will be used against Coffia.

  1. 27thDistrict (D to R) – With Trump on the ballot, Rep. Jaime Churches (D-Wyandotte)’s longevity in this blue collar Downriver district will be put to the test. As of now, both of the Republican candidates are untested political newcomers, which is why this race isn’t higher. But on paper, and if all things were equal, this should be a Republican win. Considering the candidates who have filed to date, this isn’t equal.
  2. 61stDistrict (D to R) – The Republicans ran a lousy candidate in this Macomb County district in 2022 and still got 48% of the vote. If they can do better than a losing township trustee hopeful this go-around, this should be a quality pickup opportunity for them with Trump and U.S. Rep. John James on the top of the ballot. If not, this one drops down the list.
  3. 55thDistrict (R to D) – Just as the 109th is slowly slipping away from the Democrats, the 55th is slowly slipping from the Republicans. Rep. Mark Tisdel (R-Rochester Hills) is as good of a candidate as the Republicans can field here due to his deep connections to the community, but former Sen. Margaret O’Brien was a quality incumbent in 2020 in Portage, and she got smoked by those prevailing political winds.

This Trevis Harrold guy the Democrats are running may be a newcomer to the area, but he’s working hard and making the connections he needs to make to be successful. The Democrats’ likely U.S. Senate nominee Elissa Slotkin is super popular here, too. She could give Harrold a push.

  1. 83rdDistrict (D to R) – We’re all about base numbers and numerical trends and all the rest, but there’s also something to be said about matchups. If former Rep. Tommy Brann comes back to run in this Wyoming seat against Rep. John Fitzgerald (D-Wyoming), as is expected, the Democrats will need to spend money here at a minimum. Brann is not a fire-breathing MAGA Republican and his humble, aw-shucks persona wins in state House races. If it weren’t for Fitzgerald, a quick study who has successfully figured out this job as well as any freshman, this one would be further up the list.
  2. 68thDistrict (R to D) – In that same vein: the Rep. David Martin (R-Davison) v. former Rep. Tim Sneller matchup is another heavyweight bout that wouldn’t have made the list if not for Sneller, who has served Burton at the staff and elected level off and on since the early ‘80s. Martin won re-election here in 2022 with 54 percent of the vote. At the very least, it’ll be a closer margin in 2024.
  3. 58thDistrict (D to R) – If we were starting from scratch, this is a Republican seat. 100%. But we’re not. We’ve bet against Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights) so many times the last six years that we’re not doing it again unless we see a good reason to. Trump on the ballot in 2020? Didn’t matter. Shannon won. Quality Republican candidate in 2022? Didn’t matter. Shannon still won. We’ll keep Shannon on the list because Trump won this district by six points in ’20, but until the R’s settle on a quality candidate, this one stays here.
  4. 31stDistrict (D to R) – Democrats scored a win here in just having Rep. Reggie Miller (D-Belleville) run for re-election, after rumors had her bowing out. However, is her heart in it? We’re not usually bullish on the losers of Round 1 winning in Round 2, but Dale Binieckinever stopped running after losing in 2022 and with Trump popular in much of this district . . .

On the radar: 28th District – The Democrats got a great recruit in Janise O’Neil Robinson, but Rep. Jamie Thompson (R-Brownstown) is about as perfect a fit for this district as you’re going to find. She’s worked hard, too, and made a name for herself. She’ll be hard to beat.

54th District – We’re not sure how Rep. Donni Steele (R-Lake Orion)’s voting record is going to play in Bloomfield Hills, but it plays well in Orion.

76th District – Behind the scenes, Republicans are talking big about making a play against House Appropriations Committee Chair Angela Witwer (D-Lansing), but that may be a ploy. We’ll keep an eye on it.


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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