DETROIT — Growing up black and Republican outside the heavily Democratic city of Flint, Michigan, Kelly Mitchell learned from her parents the importance of sticking to her beliefs and working hard to achieve goals.
On Monday, she’ll mark a personal and professional milestone: Casting her vote as a member of Michigan’s Electoral College along with her father and fellow elector, Henry Hatter.
“I really wanted this for me and my dad,” said Mitchell, a sales account manager from Grand Rapids, state party official and member of President-elect Donald Trump’s energy-focused transition team. “My dad is probably my biggest cheerleader. I was raised … by two loving parents and have been an activist in Michigan politics for over 30 years.”
Elections are not mysterious events subject to the whimsy of unpredictable candidates and voters. They’re actually highly predictable, with a set of variables that influence outcomes in familiar ways.
Because of that, we can say, with reasonable confidence, that a Republican will be moving into the White House in 2017.
That conclusion is based on the results of a data model we created, and is primarily the result of two factors, both related to the challenges faced by “successor” candidates — candidates from the same party as the incumbent. First, a Republican will win because voters typically shy away from the party currently in power when an incumbent isn’t running. In fact, a successor candidate is three times less likely to win. Second, President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are too low to suggest a successor candidate will take the White House.
Three months into what allies once confidently described as a “shock and awe” drive to overcome his rivals and dominate the Republican presidential field, Jeb Bush’s early campaigning looks like the juggernaut that wasn’t.
He is grappling with the Republican Party’s prickly and demanding ideological blocs, particularly evangelical leaders and pro-Israel hawks. He is struggling to win over grass-roots activists in Iowa and New Hampshire, states he has visited only a handful of times. And Mr. Bush’s undisputed advantage — the millions of dollars streaming rapidly into his political organization — may not be enough to knock out other contenders.
The Republicans are awash in governors and former governors (and senators) eyeing the White House. One governor who
seems to be bucking that trend is Michigan’s Rick Snyder. But he offers a perspective on what ails the national political culture that the others could benefit from hearing.
Snyder, a former business executive, has been described as an unorthodox politician who plays the game differently than many of his contemporaries. He governs conservatively but says he tries not to make ideology his principal calling card.
For the six years since President George W. Bush left office, his party has turned its back on him. Bush spoke at neither the 2008 nor the 2012 Republican National Convention. When aspiring successors to his former office mentioned him at all during the primary debates, they cited his legacy as something to avoid repeating. Yet Bush may prove much harder to ignore at the party’s next convention: one of the most mentioned possibilities for the 2016 Republican presidential nominee is the ex-president’s brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.