Editor's note: Vanguard President and CEO TJ Bucholz joins a panel of political pundits to discuss recent comments made by GOP political consultant John Yob.
Q. According to GOP political consultant John Yob, Gretchen WHITMER and U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D-Delta Twp.) are going to win this year and the only question is whether it will be by single or double digits. How much credibility does Yob have right now regarding statements of this sort?
Vanguard Public Affairs President and CEO T.J, BUCHOLZ said Yob's remarks were on target.
"I think these statements need to be taken seriously," Bucholz said. "John was previously working with LG Brian Calley and does have unique insight into the GOP thought process and available polling data commissioned by his company and previous campaigns. I strongly agree with his sentiment. Democrats are coalescing in a way they haven't for the entire ticket in years past and it's encouraging to see all of them to a person say they aren't taking a blue wave for granted, a testament to Brandon DILLON and the MDP."
"Sixty days in statewide elections means there is still time on the clock for the GOP to turn things around, but every day they don't makes it that much harder to win," Bucholz added.
Q. Would Michigan Republicans benefit by 'nationalizing' this year's election and aggressively pursuing national issues that tend to divide so-called "progressive" Democrats from so-called "establishment" Democrats?
"I think Michigan Republicans, who aren't particularly enamored by Bill Schuette but are still looking to be loyal to their party, will look for some beachheads to support in the coming weeks probably starting with a safer pick like GOP AG candidate Tom LEONARD, who is still viewed as an establishment darling," Bucholz said. "Then they'll work their way through down-ticket races to find candidates they like in an effort to ensure Dems don't control everything post-election. I do think GOP strategists continue to look for weak points in the Democratic ticket, but I think leaning into conservative stances on national issues could backfire on them.
"Like it or not, this election will be as much about Donald TRUMP and his positions on the issues as much as it's about the merits of candidates up and down the ballot, which likely helps Democrats across the board," Bucholz concluded.
Q. Is there a possibility that the elimination of the straight-party voting option will actually end up hurting the Republicans this year?
Bucholz said he doesn't see it hurting the GOP but he is a little worried about it possibly hurting the Democrats.
"I've heard this theory but don't necessarily agree with it," Bucholz said. "In the last cycle, Democratic voters chose the straight party option a third of the time, so as someone who would like to see Dems take back the Governor's Office and State House, both very achievable goals, it's the most recent development that gives me electoral heartburn.
"Straight ticket voting has been an option in Michigan for citizens for more than 100 years - its elimination on the ballot will be confusing, especially for voters in Democratic enclaves," Bucholz continued. "When you're confused on issues, you have a greater tendency to vote no in elections. This could also impact voting on the ballot initiatives as well. It will be a long ballot this year in any case. We should always be focused on making voting as easy as possible for everyone."
Q. Would Republican candidates who have been strong supporters of President Donald Trump, such as 11th Congressional district candidate Lena EPSTEIN, benefit at all from trying to separate themselves from Trump at this point?
According to Bucholz, a Republican deciding to dump Trump at this late date would probably be making a mistake.
"I think if you're a person who's been with Trump from Day One, as Epstein has been so blindly, it's difficult to run away from him, so the safer bet is to own your support," Bucholz said. "For as much as Donald Trump is so polarizing this year, there are many places in the state, especially Up North, where the President still is polling fairly well. In areas with high GOP turnout, Republican candidates are going to support Trump's policies and lash themselves to the mast.
"In a district like the 11th that is in play for Democrats, it's difficult to know how Lena Epstein will fare," Bucholz continued. "She's popular with Republicans in Oakland County but she needs to be working hard on the ground to get her voters to the polls. I also think you're seeing Bill Schuette double down on Trump, embracing a strategy that targets older and AV voters who are generally in line with the President, but that support comes at the expense of losing moderate voters in the middle. In a general election like we're in now, it's the middle that makes or breaks you."
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