WSW: What Does A High Turnout Primary Mean For November?

Aug 9, 2018

Credit Andy Robins / WMUK

Western Michigan University Political Science Professor John Clark says the turnout for Tuesday’s primary shows people are engaged in politics. He says the excitement is visible among both Democrats and Republicans.


State officials say the more than two-million votes cast Tuesday is the most for a primary in Michigan since at least 1978. Clark and fellow WMU Political Science Professot Peter Wielhouwer joined WMUK’s Gordon Evans to analyze the primary, and discuss what the results may mean for the November election. Wilehouwer says the numbers show Democratic enthusiasm, but he says Republicans have also been able to mobilize their voters.

6th Congressional District

Physician Matt Longjohn emerged from a field of four candidates to claim the Democratic nomination in the 6th Congressional District. Clark says Democrats still face a challenge of winning enough independent voters in November to defeat long-time Republican Congressman Fred Upton. Clark says higher turnout for Democrats, an energized base and the potential for a good year nationwide could help Democrats in Southwest Michigan.

Wielhouwer says Longjohn will face two major obstacles to pulling off a victory in the fall. He says the 6th Congressional District has been drawn to Republicans’ advantage. Wielhouwer says in the past Democrats have not been able to raise the money needed to take on Upton who traditionally has a “large war chest” for the campaign.

Trump’s Party

Republican Matt Hall defeated incumbent state Representative David Maturen in Tuesday’s primary. Clark says it’s rare for an incumbent in Congress or the state Legislature to lose in the primary or general election. But he says Hall was able to raise enough money to buy advertising time on television, and introduce himself to the electorate. In his ads, Hall highlighted Maturen’s criticism of Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley released a video Tuesday night after his unsuccessful bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. He said it’s now “President Trump’s Republican party.” Wieilhouwer says the President is always de-facto head of the party. He says Trump has brought new people in to the Republican party, but alienated others. Wielhouwer says that makes the Republican electorate more like Trump now than it was five years ago.

Electoral Landscape

Regardless of who is President, Wielhouwer says the party holding the White House normally suffers losses during mid-term elections. Clark says that’s been especially true in Michigan where the party out of power in the White House usually ends up winning the governor’s office.

In the extended version of the interview Clark and Wielhouwer discuss the best news and biggest concerns for both parties from Tuesday's primary.