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Posted on Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:02 p.m.

Snyder crossover effect may have helped Jeff Irwin and Rebekah Warren clinch victory on Tuesday

By Ryan J. Stanton

The crossover movement that led many Democrats in Michigan to break tradition and vote for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder on Tuesday likely cost a number of moderate Democratic candidates some votes.

That appears to have played out at the top of the ticket in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, where Virg Bernero came out ahead of Andy Dillon by a larger margin than many expected.

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Rick Snyder clinched victory in Tuesday's Republican gubernatorial primary, which may have helped spell defeat for moderate Democrats in other races.

It also may have trickled down to the 53rd District state House race in Ann Arbor, where liberal Democrat Jeff Irwin edged past a more moderate Ned Staebler by 206 votes.

"I think that probably did cost him some votes," Irwin said of moderate Democrats who switched to vote on the GOP ticket so they could support Snyder, a businessman from Ann Arbor whose campaign mantra of creating jobs has appealed to a broad spectrum of voters.

Because Michigan's primary system forces voters to choose between either a Republican or Democratic ticket, those who opted to cross party lines to vote for Snyder couldn't then weigh in on Democratic races.

"I definitely think it had an impact," Irwin said. "And ultimately, the thing you have to realize — and sometimes the politicians forget — is that the voters are really smart. I think Ned's a good guy, and he's a Democrat and a progressive, but he's a little bit more of a conservative flavor of progressive than I am, and I think people saw that."

The Snyder crossover effect also may have given an extra boost to Rebekah Warren, who clinched victory over Pam Byrnes in the 18th District state Senate race. Warren, a liberal Democrat from Ann Arbor, defeated a more moderate Byrnes by 3,574 votes.

Byrnes said she underestimated the Snyder effect.

"It's something that I really didn't take into consideration," she said. "And probably in hindsight, when he was going up in the polls, I think it's something I should have considered a little bit more in how to address that issue."

Michigan watched Tuesday as the more liberal Bernero soundly defeated the more moderate Dillon. Snyder's ability to draw support from moderate Democrats and independents seemingly left a more concentrated pool of traditional, left-leaning Democrats to decide on their party's races, and those voters went for the likes of Bernero, Warren and Irwin.

About twice as many voters statewide participated in the Republican primary than the Democratic primary, which is telling in itself. In Washtenaw County, a near-even mix of Democratic and Republican ballots were cast on Tuesday — which is notable for a traditionally Democratic county that went 70 percent for Barack Obama in 2008.

In Ann Arbor, more than 4,500 people cast Republican ballots on Tuesday, representing about 26 percent of all ballots cast. Compare that to the 17 percent of Ann Arbor voters who went for John McCain in 2008, and it seems evident a higher percentage of voters than normal were leaning Republican.

Snyder found a strong base of support in Washtenaw County, securing about 49 percent of the vote here in the Republican primary. That played to Bernero's advantage on the Democratic ticket, where he picked up about 65 percent of the vote locally.

In addition to the Snyder effect, Byrnes cited as a reason for her defeat recent campaign mailings by the Great Lakes Education Project, a conservative group with Republican backers and ties to Dick DeVos. Without her approval, GLEP put out ads publicly supporting Byrnes in the final weeks of her campaign. Soon after, a series of mysterious robo-calls went out that drew connections between Byrnes and Republicans.

"I know I ran a good campaign," Byrnes said. "I mean, we started walking in April and we walked much of the district three times, and we were fairly confident going into this until the GLEP thing and these robo-calls hijacked my campaign. That's something that was totally out of my control. The robo-calls in the last week were quite significant."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 4:26 p.m.

Conan Smith - Snyder did make a difference myself and about 50 of my friends only voted for Snyder. Because we felt he was the best. Couldn't vote for anyone else because they were a democrat.

Conan Smith

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 3:24 p.m.

I'm pretty sure the Snyder issue had no any impact whatsoever on Democratic primaries in Ann Arbor or countywide for that matter. What we saw from the numbers consistently was 1) turnout in general was up across the board, but especially in Ann Arbor on the Dem ticket and on the west side on the Republican ticket, and 2) proportionally on the Dem ballot there were only minor fluctuations among regions (e.g. typically in the Senate race A2 accounts for 47% of the vote; this year it was 52% due to increased turnout... within the city the turnout proportions were generally the same from ward to ward). Only two precincts in Ann Arbor to me show any serious potential for cross-over votes: 2-7 and 2-8 (which are not in the 53rd district, so didn't effect Irwin-Staebler). There, turnout was unusually high and participation in the Democratic primary was unusually low. Anecdotally, we would call these "Republican" precincts anyway (the Dem base there is between 50 and 60% -- only 19 of Ann Arbor's 48 precincts are like this, including all nine in second ward), so it is highly likely that these really are just Republicans choosing to play in their own primary for once. Mind you there hasn't been a worthwhile primary contest for Republicans to engage in here for 20 years (except possibly the Posthumus-Schwartz gubernatorial in 2002). One major anomaly in the county is Ypsi Township where turnout numbers were down overall about 3% but Dem turnout was exactly (within 3 votes) of what we had predicted, suggesting that Republicans on the east side stayed home. The other is the city of Chelsea where Democratic numbers were double their expected amounts, meaning in all likelihood that Byrnes drew out a lot of voters. People forget that this county is still significantly diverse politically despite the fact that Ann Arbor has become a one-party town. Many people who vote Democrat here in the city are probably better described as independents or even moderate Republicans who have no other game to play in. My own district is some 28% Republican by the numbers. Given a serious top of the ticket contest with a moderate Republican with a real chance, it makes total sense that those people would make it to the polls in high numbers. Regardless, the bottom line is that more people than average voted in the Democratic primary and more people than average voted in the Republican primary. That's borne out by the data. A few month from now an an enterprising political scientist could tell us definitively how many Dem's crossed over (I know some did for sure), which might be an interesting historical fact to have handy if we're saying Governor Snyder in November.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

I'm with rouzer, Granholm's 8 yrs assured us of a Republican victory in Nov and Snyder is by far the most palatable Republican. I also voted for McCain in 2000 hoping Bush would get derailed. In elections, I am an independent who votes Democrat 75% of the time and 3rd Party the rest of the time.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 10:01 a.m.

I am surprised that Warren Won Over Byrnes. I have seen a lot of Byrnes accomplishments but I still have to figuremout what Warren Has done. Maybe that is what people want, is someone that hasn't done much.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 2:49 a.m.

Michigan is now in trouble with two crooks to vote 4. Politicians and business men have made this state into what you have now and you want more????????????????

John Floyd

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 10:52 p.m.

AAtaxpayer I think It's time for Ann Arbor to start voting for moderate Republicans at the local level. John Floyd Republican for City Council 5th Ward


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 10:17 p.m.

FYI heresmine: Actually, given the choice between a moderate Republican and a liberal Dem, I'm with the liberal all the way. My point was that I believe the Republicans will win in Nov. and I didn't want Cox or Hoekstra as gov. Years of Engler was plenty for me. We need a return to the good old liberal family values of instituting policies that strengthen the middle class and build up the poor and undereducated folks...but where are those politicians???


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 10:17 p.m.

I was going to vote for Byrne until I realized that I have to make sure Snyder can beat the other republicans. I was torn for the party line vote.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

I'm with Rouzer. A moderate Republican or conservative Democrat will get my vote any day.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:32 p.m.

Mikey2u- Given my statements, you are the definition of irony. :)

The Picker

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:24 p.m.

Mikey2u, Thanks for sharing with us. You are special!

Milton Shift

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:14 p.m.

"The last two years have proved that there is no such thing anymore as a "Moderate Democrat"." This is true - they're all on the right on economic issues. Democrats today write legislation like the Republicans of the 90s did. They tell us we all must make sacrifices, while they blow millions on weddings for themselves and live it up like never before. Austerity for the poor, bailouts for the rich. Under Obama we are witnessing the greatest redistribution of wealth in generations. And for all the talk of "Obama the communist," there isn't much substance to support it - the money is pouring into the hands of the financial elite, via wage cuts, work speedups, regressive taxes such as sales taxes, bailouts, subsidies, and low taxes for the rich (Warren Buffet pays half the tax rate of his secretary.) Obama the "communist" proposed eliminating venture capital taxation, which is where the big bucks are made. This is a far right position that not even Reagan or Bush had the nerve for. All this while debt soars (that's what happens when the tax base is increasingly dependent on the destitute) and the most meager of social programs are eliminated. Our tax dollars are not being spent on us, the workers (via social programs), but instead on the rich: little is left outside of military spending and corporate subsidies, both of which further enrich them. It is robbery. The only "choice" is between the far right and the extreme right. There are no moderates in either party.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

I am a life-long Democrat but I always vote for a Republican in the Primary election. I voted for McCain over Bush in the 2000, and I voted for Snyder over Cox and Hoekstra yesterday. In November I will vote for Bernero.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 6:40 p.m.

Bouchard was my first choice earlier this year but his odds of winning the primary as time progressed convinced me to decide between the top-three GOP candidates. As a Snyder supporter, I'm happy that he'll be running against Bernero, as Bernero appeals to the left, while Snyder appeals to the center. Perhaps the greatest flaw of our primary system is that it typically results in candidates that are either much further to the left or right than the average person. The average American falls in the center of the political spectrum. (Actually, I usually hear center-right, but I attribute that to the fact it comes from sources that tend to lean towards the right...although I spend a lot of time reading and listening to sources which lean left but I've never heard the claim that America leans left-of-the-center, which is interesting in and of itself...feel free to add some links if you know otherwise...) Because party loyalists tend to dominate the primaries, it results in candidates that are more partisan than the average person wants. That is the primary reason I've been getting more involved in GOP party politics. As a young person that is tired of seeing candidates that seem so "out there", I see my involvement as my contribution to less extremity in politics (not that I kid myself into thinking I'm making a big difference, but at least I'm trying...) Case in point, as a recently elected precinct delegate, (many thanks to the 36 people who voted for me!) I throw away the mail I get from SOS and AG candidates that only tout their Pro-Life and 2nd Amendment creds. Those are not the most important issues facing Michigan right now, especially considering the influence of those offices in particular. Given that SOS and AG candidates are elected by precinct delegates(not in the primaries,) I want to hear what these candidates will do for ALL of Michigan, not the few that comprise the base of the party.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 6:31 p.m.

I agree that it's unlikely that Dem crossover had anything to do with Byrnes loss. In Stanton's defense, it is usually not the reporter who creates the headline for the article. It seems as if Byrnes may have cited the "Synder Effect" for her loss in an interview (among other factors,) so it was added to a story about the close race between Staebler and Irwin.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 6:21 p.m.

I just hope that Synder doesn't pull a McCain and start trying to cater to the Democrats. In the last Presidential race, we had two Democrats running, the socialist Obama and the slightly conservative McCain. I did not see a TRUE Republican. I hope that the governor's race does not turn out to be the same kind of race between two Democrats

Charley Sullivan

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 6:08 p.m.

Well, the question will be whether the right-wing of the Republican party will vote for Snyder in November; he's way too liberal for them, and that's why many liberals I know did in fact cross the line and vote in the Republican primary, particular in places where the major local issues were largely already likely to go one way. But we'll see. And for me, I'd rather have negative truth than sugar coated niceness that only turns out to be spun cotton candy...


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 5:14 p.m.

The cross over is overstated and cannot be verified. Perhaps there was a conversion of Democrats who has tired of the failed politics and economic policies of the past at the national and state level. However, this was small in number and does not account for Snyder's victory margin. Rather the Cox implosion benefitted Snyder especially in SE Michigan where the Boogiean at the Manoogian story had a high profile. Hoekstra failed to cash on this because he was already locked into his West Michigan strategy. Hoekstra was headed for 30% until Cox imploded and his vote broke for Snyder. Stanton: Don't play pocket political scientist unless you can back up your data claims with facts.

Aaron Wolf

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

Can we all agree that regardless of the details, the party-line voting system is pathetic compared to what we should be able to conceive of to have the most fair system?


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 4:35 p.m.

I believe that Rebekah Warren would have won her primary regardless of Snyder. But look at the fact that both Snyder and Staebler have backgrounds in investment banking or venture capitalization. The Irwin victory was close and he is a progresive liberal. I have to believe that Snyder cost Staebler the election.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 4:32 p.m.

It will be interesting to see if Rick gets any Republican money for November. The west siders must be very upset that they didn't get a right winger into the governors race. I hope they realize that most moderates can do without the social agenda and the "party of no" foolishness. At the same time, Rick will have his hands full if he starts trying to pull a McCain and coddle the right wingers. It looks good for him now, but the Dems will have a lot to campaign on if he swerves to the right in the campaign.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 4:26 p.m.

Snyder vs. Bernero is Nerd vs. Schoolyard Bully. Say what you will about Ann Arbor, nerds have the upper hand here. I think that Snyder having his campaign office very conveniently located downtown had considerable influence on coverage. Just a hunch. Hoekstra was my second choice. Snyder's total focus on economics and avoidance of negative ads won me over.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

I haven't voted for a Republican in a long time. Voted for Snyder. May not vote for him in the fall but felt that Michigan deserved the most moderate, most civilized of the Republicans since they may win in the fall.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 3:58 p.m.

I agree with "peter" and "Rouzer".....Benero had better have more than the party line too otherwise I'll vote for a republican for the first time since 1974

Tom Wieder

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 3:07 p.m.

As usual for Pam, she blames somebody else for her failings. Had she vigorously denounced the GLEP intrusion into the primary, she might have defused any negative effect on her campaign. Instead, she just denied prior knowledge and launched her own vicious, untruthful, negative attacks on Rebekah. It was her own negative campaign pieces and attacking Rebekah for filing a report a day late that really backfired on her. That's what got many people angry at her, much more than being the recipient of the DeVos efforts. Just one example of many: On Monday night, I was with a well-connected Democratic voter and contributor who was stronly committed to voting for Pam the next day. When I showed him the Byrnes campaign mailing that ridiculously claimed that Rebekah's vote on a measure, which passed anyway, resulted in Michigan losing $400 million in federel money, it was too much for him. He voted for Rebekah. Pam never takes responsibility for her own negative campaigning. She blames Alma Wheeler Smith for her own attacks on Catherine McClary in a previous primary. She blames her "graphic designer" for the fact that it was almost impossible to identify her last-minute attack piece against Rebekah as coming from her, because the type for her committee name was so small and had little contrast with the background. I sincerely hope that this is the last Pam Byrnes campaign that we see.

perfectly lubricated weather vane

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:39 p.m.

The Warren / Byrnes race was not close: 55% to 40%. Let's not spend much time looking for factors that might have subtly influenced the outcome.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:38 p.m.

I didn't really think of Dillon as a "moderate Democrat". I thought of him as a Republican running under Democratic colors, like Stupak or Zell Miller. This is not a unique belief on my part.

Top Cat

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

The last two years have proved that there is no such thing anymore as a "Moderate Democrat".

David Cahill

Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

This analysis has a lot going for it.'s detailed coverage of the GLEP stuff also contributed. Plus, Byrnes' two last-minute negative pieces didn't help her effort.


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 1:49 p.m.

There is another group of Democratic voters who voted for Snyder in order to assure that Cox or Hoekstra didn't get the nomination because we believe that the Dems don't really have a viable chance of winning in Nov. and we sure didn't want to have to live in a state led by one of them.