Can’t Blame Obama: African-American Voters Showed Up But Rick Snyder Won In Michigan



I’m sorry but no. We can’t blame this on Obama. And we can’t blame it on Detroit voters not turning out at the polls either.

Not this time.

When my wife and I showed up at our polling place early Tuesday morning it was the first time in memory that both of us had to wait for a booth to open up, and then wait again in line to hand our ballot to a poll worker to get inserted into the machine to be counted. This was a crowded polling place in the ‘hood in Detroit in a mid-term election first thing in the morning, OK?   We weren’t voting for mayor. We weren’t voting for Obama. There was no Detroit-specific issue on the ballot that lit a fire under our sometimes lax sense of civic duty and participation. The only big issue was getting Gov. Rick Snyder tossed out, and Detroit voters showed up to the polls in large numbers. As in 31.4 percent of all 529,000 registered voters. I can’t say for sure, but these have got to be pretty close to unprecedented numbers. Normally we’re doing good to crack into the double digits, and that’s during a presidential election year.

But we lost.

So let’s begin with the first thing, namely that Democratic challenger Mark Schauer was never what you’d call a shoo-in, or even a particularly exciting or attention-getting candidate. For awhile there I think it was even safe to say he was a bit of a longshot against incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder. Incumbency does count, and Michigan is hardly a strong blue state, regardless of what President Obama managed to accomplish in 2012. You only have to look at the wacked-out Republican majority in the Michigan Legislature to figure that one out. So Schauer was facing an uphill battle to begin with.

But an uphill battle does not equal a political death sentence. Just ask the President of the United States.

What went wrong, then? I wouldn’t pretend to be astute enough to assume I have the definite answer. The Detroit Free Press has their take on it, which makes some uncomfortably valid points that must be considered. Although I thought their  backhanded and reluctant  endorsement of Snyder was strange and somewhat bizarre to say the least, it is nevertheless true that Schauer didn’t have a strong enough resume coming into the game, and he didn’t work hard enough to make up for that gap. Which he easily could have done, because Snyder certainly left the door open more than a crack for a well-orchestrated left-wing attack. Schauer had the right ideas on the issues, and progressives understood he was on our side of the fence, but he didn’t really manage to hit a stride until fairly late, and even then it wasn’t enough of a stride. Said the Free Press:

Schauer was an unlikely candidate, a former state lawmaker and one-term congressman from Battle Creek with no exemplary record of accomplishment, no signal legislative victories.

That didn’t have to sink his candidacy.

Schauer and (Democratic Party Chairman Lon )Johnson insisted on making this election a referendum on Snyder, at the expense of a clear platform of alternate ideas. And the plans Schauer did articulate read like a liberal wish list, but the former congressman was never able to say how he would make his plans a reality — specifically, how he’d pay for them. It was an arrogant insult to voters, an assumption that Michiganders would be satisfied with scant details and wouldn’t look beyond the surface.

So yes, we could have used a stronger candidate. Or let’s say we could have used our candidate to come on stronger than he did. That might have mobilized more Democrats outside of Detroit, because normally if that many Detroiters turn out during a midterm I’d say this race should have been one heck of a lot closer than the 4 point race it turned out to be to say the least, and probably should have been victory. Something to consider is that the race wound up this close even with those weaknesses. I watched the polls narrow from a 13-point Snyder lead down to the 4 points that it eventually became. If I were Snyder I wouldn’t feel quite so vindicated as the Free Press suggests he should. Rather, if I were Schauer, I would consider what could have – and should have – been.

But here’s the other thing; the issues that should have mattered the most and motivated a surge of outraged voters wound up being essentially forgotten about and shoved to the outside corners of the rearview mirror. Snyder is a thief and a liar. He stole democracy and urinated on voting rights when he ignored the will of his own constituents and steamrolled an emergency manager law through the legislature during a lame duck session within months after his own constituents voted to repeal the legislation. He initially signaled he had no intention of implementing Right to Work, then turned on a dime and rammed that through as well. At the time there was plenty outrage about all of this. Plenty.

But that was two years ago.

22 Replies to “Can’t Blame Obama: African-American Voters Showed Up But Rick Snyder Won In Michigan”

  1. “Schauer and (Democratic Party Chairman Lon )Johnson insisted on making this election a referendum on Snyder, at the expense of a clear platform of alternate ideas. ”

    Oh,please. The GOP has no clear platform, no ideas, and no plans to pay for anything, and they win with that all the time…running scary images of their opponents with lies about their records. Somehow, that is A-OK, but when a Dem runs against his opponent, who he could only pin down to ONE small debate, what was he to do exactly? Add that to the billions the Kochs handed Snyder, and we lost. Michigan lost. America lost. And the already arrogant and entitled GOP lawmakers will now strut and prance for quite a while. See, they will say they have a mandate, and Boehner will crow about his ‘political capital’ again, when all they have is a lot of dark money backing them, and a lot of unscrupulous people pulling their strings. I pray this republic can survive this…I have my doubts.

  2. Why didn’t Millennials show up? I mean if its one party that speaks to there issues of climate change, student loan debt, civil liberties etc.. its the democratic party even with all their faults’

    And by Millennials, I mean “White voters under 30 who stayed the hell home yesterday.” Congratulations on your ongoing political irrelevance.

    And Latinos who only voted at 8% with 35% going to the party who classify you as drug mules with ebola and your cantaloupe thighs you must be very proud of yourself.

  3. I have been sick all day. I still don understand what happened! In Kentucky, we had 65% voter turnout, and McConnell still won! African-American turnout was high! What happened?!!! WTF happened???!!!#
    They only blame Obama when bad things happen they don’t like!
    The voters showed up, the ground game was great! The volunteers did their job and gotv? The only place to look are the politicians, some how they screwed up! They allowed the GOP to do the messaging, which was a no no! The dumb ass voters believed them! OMG!!

  4. We don’t run on what we believe in. The establishment are a bunch of fat happy wall street sycophants. That’s why they all must be purged. Every single last one of them. So I feel no pity for the blue dogs and every Democrat in the future should listen to Harry Truman: Carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don’t ever apologize for anything.

    Harry S Truman

  5. The Free Press is a worthless paper since getting eaten up by the same company that owns the right-wing Detroit News. The irony of the Free Press saying Mark Scahuer didn’t have a clear message, when this is the same newspaper four years ago that endorse a guy whose basic campaign message was I’m a nerd and I just want to help Michigan. Hell I even got one of the fools that sit on the Free Press editorial board admit he didn’t tell them much on what he’ll do once elected.

  6. ya know I’m getting kinda sick of the ‘the candidate wasn’t very good/exciting/had no platform/picked the wrong issues’ excuse…

    the truth is that there were plenty of opportunities to defeat a lot of the incumbent Republicans… Scott, Walker, Snyder, Brownback…

    if the Democrats can’t field better candidates then that’s on them…

    if you can’t explain the issues, like you’re going to lose your abortion rights or contraception rights and become a brood mare for the extreme-patriarchal- right…

    or you actually ARE going down the Fascist road with these scumbags then you really haven’t examined the problem properly and its on YOU..

  7. A lot of the problem in Michigan was the unrelenting advertising by the Snyder people. No basis in reality in but then the GOP doesn’t do reality. There were ads extolling Snyder for bringing all of those auto jobs back to Michigan. Of course, he opposed President Obama’s rescue of the auto companies which was the real reason for more jobs in Michigan. And menacing ads pairing Schauer and Jennifer Granholm as the villains who brought the economy down in 2008-2009. In her second term as governor, Jennifer Granholm had to deal with a recalcitrant GOP Senate and, in the last two years, with a recalcitrant GOP House and Senate. Mitch McConnell probably modeled his seditious do-nothingerism on the Michigan Legislature. On television every morning, every afternoon and every evening. Even on Since most Americans haven’t a clue how government really works, I suspect voters just forgot all of Snyder’s dreadful shortcomings.

  8. It’s hard to show up at a voting booth when you are scrambling between jobs, unreliable transportation, unsympathetic employers, and the demands to feed and care for your family. Poor working-class folks of all shades face this daily, and don’t get any special accommodations on voting day. As voting gets more restrictive, most folks just don’t have the time, energy, or money to vote in their interests. Upper-class voters can vote at their leisure, and they will vote to protect their interests. The dwindling middle-class will split their vote according to their perceived status. Upper class will point to low voter turn-out from working class to justify their “majority” rule of social injustice and wage inequality. Just my view. I voted, but with my job, I could accomplish it. I have had some jobs where I had to accept getting docked an hour or two’s pay in order to vote. Some folks just can’t afford that. Sad truth about America.

  9. This author is as knowledgeable as a coffee table. 31.4% is not “some kind of record.” 2010 mid-term turnout was 31% as well. And presidential elections in Detroit are regularly over 50% since Obama. Detroit city elections regularly show around 25%, more than the suburbs, Seattle, and other major cities.

    I’m not “blaming” Detroit voters at all. But don’t say silly things about the numbers.

  10. Well they had 4 years to fix the shittiest roads in America and haven’t done a thing. If that wasn’t enough to vote them out. I’m not sure what to say…

  11. I happily WALKED two miles to my polling location and voted straight ticket democrat, and I prayed tricky DICK SNYDER would lose!! but michigan is HOPELESS! I’ve been here all my life and I basically give up! the combination of the koch brothers and ignorant, scared, totally uneducated republican caucasians are destroying the midwest!! wisconsin, illinois, michigan, indiana, ALL HELL HOLES thanks to republican greed and hatred of america!!

  12. the democratic party suffers from two major self inflicted problems, NUMBER 1, GROW A BACKBONE!! fight fire with fire! with voter suppression running wild by the PORWF – party of RICH OLD WHITE FOLKS, where is the backlash from our democratic party heros??? wheres the congressional hearings???? NUMBER 2- if the democratic party fought for the little guy as well as their constant begging for MONEY by donations! we’d own both the house and the senate!! the democratic party needs to fight for US!! and go back to being a populist party!

  13. I’m so disappointed Snyder gets another four years of his unethical policies. The good thing that came out of this is Gary Peters who takes over our beloved Carl Levins seat.

  14. I have voted at the same polling place since 1988, and in 2008-2012 saw the most young millennials I ever witnessed voting. On Tuesday I saw a gym floor full of older white people(I myself am white so I do not say that negatively), and I knew this was nothing more then an anti-Obama election.

  15. Fair enough. The author is grossly incorrect on her/his numbers. Whoever that person may be. Saying things like Detroit not being able to crack double digit turnout extends a false narrative that has pervaded this city for a long time.

  16. It’s so sad that people have problems being able to vote. This is why election day should be a national holiday. Everyone should have the opportunity to vote in a free, fair election.

  17. Better yet, all elections under federal control and everyone has 2 weeks to vote. All the same rules no matter where you are

  18. Its expensive and time consuming, and you probably wouldn’t be allowed to do it in the most suspicious jurisdictions, but if no one comes up with a credible answer to where the votes went, consider a recount and/or a full audit on your state or city elections. Verify precinct voters and totals vs. registration books– a good way to find out where votes went. Not too rare for votes to disappear or get flipped in alarmingly large numbers. You can see it where predominantly Dem jurisdictions have an unusually large number of missing votes, or GOP votes–easily identified by spot-check exit polling.

  19. Rick Snyder and the rest of his party are so evil and corrupt, I wouldn’t be surprised if the didn’t tamper with the voting machines. The whole world knows they will try to win by hook or by crook. They will never give up Congress now that they have it. The Oligarchy is 2/3 complete. Now they need the White House and they will do WHATEVER it takes to get it. Democracy died in this country on November 4, 2014.

  20. All those people who voted for Republicans will be devastated when they start losing their rights, their jobs, their social security their medicare and a whole host of other things. The only thing at this point that will stop the republicans and their evil puppet masters will be the uniting of ALL the people of this Nation finally coming together and fighting against those who seek to destroy us.

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