WSW: What Tuesday's Election Results Tell Us About Politics, Voting Patterns And Governing

Nov 8, 2018

Sean McCann won the race for state Senate Tuesday in the district that encompasses Kalamazoo County
Credit Zoe Jackson / WMUK

Turnout for Tuesday’s election in Kalamazoo County increased dramatically over the last mid-term election four years ago. That resulted in more votes for Democrats on the ballot.


Western Michigan University Political Science Professors Peter Wielhouwer and John Clark joined WMUK’s Gordon Evans to analyze Tuesday’s election results.

Wielhouwer says both parties have a base of voters that turn out regularly, but he says excitement varies from year to year. This year he says more new voters registered for the election, especially college students in the Kalamazoo area. Clark says usually interest in politics drops off after a Presidential election, but he says after 2016 intensity has been sustained.

Clark says President Trump’s unpopularity in the Kalamazoo area helped Democrats and created a difficult political environment for Republicans like state Senator Margaret O’Brien. She was defeated Tuesday night by Democrat Sean McCann in a rematch of 2014 in the state Senate district that encompasses Kalamazoo County.

At the top of the ballot in Michigan, women captured statewide offices. Gretchen Whitmer was elected the state’s next Governor, Dana Nessel Attorney General and Jocelyn Benson Secretary of State. Debbie Stabenow was re-elected to the U.S. Senate in a closer than expected race. Wielhouwer says President Trump caused a burst of energy that drew more women to run for office. Clark says it’s important to point out that the women candidates in Michigan and other states are highly qualified and paid their dues by winning offices down the ballot.

Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were key states in President Trump’s election. Democrats made gains in all three states on Tuesday. Does that mean anything for the next election in 2020? Wielhouwer says it will depend on the type of candidate that wins the Democratic nomination for President and what sort of legislation Democrats pursue in the House. He says the reaction of “Trumpian” conservatives to the Democrats will also play a role in 2020. Clark says Elections are important, but so is governing. He says a divided Congress may not address the nation’s problems, but wait until the election in 2020. Clark says there many problems need solutions from divided government in Michigan and in the nation’s capital.

In the extended version of the interview Clark and Wielhouwer continue their discussion of what the 2018 election could mean in 2020. It begins around the 30:00 mark.