WSW: "The Trump Phenomenon" And Crowded Fields In 2018

Aug 7, 2017

Credit Tom Arthur/Wikicommons

Western Michigan University Political Science Professor John Clark says the “Trump phenomenon” shows that people without a traditional resume can run against the establishment even of their own party and still win.


Five Democrats have announced they are running for the Sixth Congressional District seat, currently held by Republican Fred Upton. Clark says the crowded field, which may still grow seems to be a reaction to the Trump presidency, and to Democrats being energized by the campaign of Bernie Sanders among other factors to get more involved.

Democrats have put more resources into the sixth district in recent election cycles, but Clark says a competitive primary would be a severe departure from their usual practice coalescing around a single candidate. Clark says Michigan’s relatively late August primary compared to other states requires a shift from primary to general election campaign pretty quickly. He says a crowded field and hard fought primary may not help the eventual Democratic nominee.

It isn’t clear yet if Fred Upton will seek another term in the House. The St. Joseph Republican was first elected to Congress in 1986, and is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Debbie Stabenow. Clark says Upton would face a number of challenges if he runs for Senate, including increasing his name recognition throughout the state.

The Republicans may have their own crowded field for Senate, and Clark says most of the candidates in race will have to build name recognition. One possible exception would be Robert Ritchie, known as Kid Rock. Clark says if Upton gets in race he will be a serious candidate. While Upton may not have to make a formal announcement soon, Clark says the Republican Congressman will have to begin preparing for a Senate campaign. For one thing, Clark says, although Upton is known for being to raise large amounts of money, a Senate race would be much more expensive than a House campaign.

A couple of recent polls indicate that Kid Rock would be a serious challenger to Stabenow. But Clark says it’s too early to take polling seriously. He says most surveys right now reflect name recognition, and most voters are not paying much attention yet.