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Top 15 House Seats Most Likely To Flip

August 28, 2018

Leave it to President Donald Trump to take the traditional Michigan political map and mix it up like a Mr. Potato Head doll. 

It wasn’t all that long ago Democrats controlled House districts in The Thumb, Jackson County, Lenawee County, Clare, Montcalm County, St. Clair County and the most northern tip of the Lower Peninsula. Not anymore. None of those districts are even being given a look as anything but Republican holds. 

Two years ago, MIRS was putting two Macomb County seats high on this very same list. Today, neither make the list and only the 24th was worth considering. 

Instead it’s all about educated suburban female voters. Oakland County. Kalamazoo County. Traverse City. The map is being scrambled and separated based on rural v. suburban, college educated v. high school education. White collar v. blue collar. Bernie Sanders v. Trump supporters. 

It’s given the most recent House ranking a different look with the top ranking going to the Bloomfield/Birmingham-based 40th District, which didn’t get more than a sniff from either the House Democratic Fund (HDF) or the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) in 2016. 

The Aug. 7 primary and the preceding campaign finance reports generated some big shuffling in today’s ranking, which is MIRS’ second “Most Likely To Flip” list for 2018. 

1. 40th District (R to D) — *2 – Nearly 59 percent of primary voters participated in the competitive Democratic primary over the six-way GOP primary. Democrat Mari Manoogian will be able to stay competitive with David Wolkinson on the fundraising front. This affluent suburban district voted Hillary Clinton in 2016 and won’t be featuring a House incumbent this time. 

2. 20th District (R to D) — *11 – Internal polling shows Rep. Jeff Noble (R-Plymouth) in big trouble, with one source calling him “Dead man walking.” Noble doesn’t act on the campaign trail as conservative as he is and he’ll fully activate his folksy charm in the weeks ahead, we’re sure. In the meantime, reports have school teacher Matt Koleszar crushing the doors. His 1,481 more primary votes than Noble is hard to ignore. 

3. 62nd District (R to D) — *1 – Reports have Democrat Jim Haadsma running a more sophisticated field operation than he did two years ago, but Dave Morgan’s primary numbers were encouraging to Republicans, who can’t help but notice that this northern Calhoun County district’s once-strong Dem base number evaporate over the last few years. 

4. 41st District (R to D) — *8 – Democrat Padma Kuppa’s $69,000 cash on hand number stood out in this district based in Troy, which is now made up of 20 percent Asian-Americans. We’ll see if Doug Tietz’s connection to outgoing U.S. Rep. David Trott is a net positive or net negative. 

5. 61st District (R to D) — *14 – Alberta Griffin is far stronger candidate than John Fischer, but she has next to nothing in the bank. The way the primary numbers are looking, Rep. Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo Twp.) will need to spend the $100,000 he’s got in the bank or risk losing the former home of conservative Jack Hoogendyk for possibly the first time in its history. 

6. 39th District (R to D) — *3 – The district looks a little different than the one now-Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown held, but it’s still trending the Democrats’ way. Democrat Jennifer Suidan is going to need to work on name ID after Republican Ryan Berman’s impressive primary win. 

7. 71st District (R to D) — *5 – This Delta Township district didn’t drop. Other districts surpassed it in the rankings. Angela Witwer is going to benefit from Gretchen Driskell and Kelly Rossman-McKinney working this Eaton County piece hard. Both will need huge Democratic voter turnout here in order for either of them to be successful. Witwer would be the beneficiary. 

8. 19th District (R to D) — *12 – First-time candidate Laurie Pohutsky has been connecting with her district as a prospective candidate since May 2017 and it showed in her primary win against a sitting school board member. Let’s see. Open suburban Detroit district. Both candidates start with about the same name ID. 2018. Democratic female v. Republican male. It’s hard to bet against the 30-year-old microbiologist. 

9. 104th District (R to D) — *NR – Rep. Larry Inman (R-Traverse City) is in real trouble. The skilled trades folks think he lied to them when he voted to repeal prevailing wage and they’re going to working against him. The nurses union pulled their endorsement when they say Inman whiffed on urging hospital officials to at least settle their labor dispute with the nurses. 

Meanwhile, Dan O’Neil may be the most impressive Democratic primary challenger this cycle. Huge bank account. Internal polling numbers already showing a very tight race. The traditional Dem base numbers here, though, are in the low 40s. 

10. 38th District (R to D) — *NR – Rep. Kathy Crawford (R-Novi) survived an aggressive primary challenge. Now she’s going up against Novi City Council member Kelly Breen, who just won an election last year. For as much attention we gave the Crawford-Chase Turner primary race, Breen’s Democratic primary against her two opponents generated 461 more votes. 

11. 110th District (D to R) — *4 – If GOP primary victor Gregory Markkanenhad more than two nickels to rub together, maybe we wouldn’t have dropped the Republicans’ best pickup opportunity as much as we did. Rep. Scott Dianda is reportedly bringing Ken Summers around wherever he goes. 

12. 101th District (R to D) — *10 – Jack O’Malley is a quality recruit for Republicans, given his long history on local radio. Trump does OK out here, too, making it an uphill climb for Kathy Wiejaczka. 

13. 91th District (R to D) — *7 – Rural Muskegon County is fine with Trump and the VanWoerkom name is strong given Gerry’s many years of service. Tanya Cabala had a tougher primary. When the going gets tough, Dem resources may go elsewhere than the expensive Grand Rapids media market. 

14. 99th District (R to D) — *9 – If Central Michigan University students show up to legalize dope. If young progressive come out like they did for Sanders. If, if, if. Democrat love flirting with this district, but CMU students haven’t shown us they can pull a Dem House candidate over the top, yet. We’ll believe it when we see it. 

15. 17th District (R to D) — *6 – Rep. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe) is connecting in this pro-Trump district with his work on combating chemical addictions. We’re beginning to wonder if having husband-wife combo Bill and Michelle LaVoy on the same ballot was a good idea. 

Dropped Out: 79th District (R to D) — *15 – Does the Blue Wave splash into St. Joseph/Benton Harbor? Joey Andrews is a good Democratic candidate in a better year for Dems. We’re going to keep an eye on it. 

108th District (R to D) — *13 – Primary numbers and fundraising numbers, at this point, make it hard for us to believe Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) is going anywhere. 

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