Michigan gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2014

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Michigan Gubernatorial Election

Primary Date
August 5, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

Incumbents prior to election:
Rick Snyder Republican Party
Brian Calley Republican Party
Rick Snyder
Brian Calley
Michigan State Executive Elections
Top Ballot
Governor Lieutenant Governor
Secretary of StateAttorney General

Battleground Races
Michigan House of Representatives

Current trifecta for Republicans
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State executive offices in Michigan
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The Michigan gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election will take place on November 4, 2014. Incumbents Rick Snyder (R) and Brian Calley (R) are running for re-election. The winning ticket will serve a four-year term in office.

Michigan is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[1][2][3] The attorney general and secretary of state did not appear on the primary ballot, and the gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial positions did not have contested primaries in 2014.[4]

Snyder and his Democratic opponent, Mark Schauer, are engaged in a close race to the governor's mansion. Learn more about the latest polls in the race by checking out the polls section. Gubernatorial races in Michigan have experienced growing margins of victory since 2002, as shown by the margin of victory analysis chart linked here. You can also learn more about the campaign's television ads by checking out the campaign media section.

The gubernatorial race is not the only race on the November ballot that could shift the balance of power in Michigan. The Michigan House of Representatives has been identified by Ballotpedia as one of the top 20 legislative chambers to watch in 2014. Both legislative chambers and the governor's office are currently held by a single party, making Michigan a state government trifecta. Learn more about the chamber's most competitive races on the battleground chambers page.


General election

Republican Party Rick Snyder/Brian Calley - Incumbents
Democratic Party Mark Schauer/Lisa Brown[5][6]
Libertarian Party Mary Buzuma/Scott Boman
Independent U.S. Taxpayers Party candidates Mark McFarlin/Richard Mendoza
Green Party Paul Homeniuk/Candace R. Caveny

Did not qualify

Independent Robin Sanders[7]

Declined potentials

Democratic Party Virg Bernero - 2010 Democratic nominee for Governor of Michigan[6][8]
Democratic Party Gary Peters - U.S. Representative, Michigan, District 14[6]

Race background

First-term Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is running for re-election in 2014.[9] In December 2012, in the wake of the passage of a "right-to-work" law that provoked protests, particularly from unions, a Public Policy Poll showed dwindling chances for the governor to win another term compared to a similar poll released the previous month. His approval tumbled a net -28 points, with respondents preferring each of the poll's four hypothetical Democratic challengers over Snyder for 2014.[10][11]

At a Republican leadership conference back in September 2011, Snyder told an interviewer that if he felt satisfied with the legacy he established during his first term, he would be inclined to pass the torch to "better, smarter people," indicating that a 2014 re-election bid was not guaranteed to happen. He went on to say that, should he decline to run for a second term, he would be "happy to go fishing, go teach or do something else," rather than seek a new political office.[12]

In late September 2013, Snyder began airing commercials talking about his successes in office. While the governor suggested they were not campaign commercials, they were widely seen as a way to boost Snyder before the 2014 campaign got underway.[13][14] Around that time, Snyder was publicly targeted for defeat in 2014 by the AFL-CIO.

The general election race took shape following August party conventions that saw Snyder and Democratic candidate Mark Schauer win their party nominations. Early polling for the general election revealed a close race, with a Mitchell Research survey showing a five-point lead for Snyder when all candidates were available to respondents. Head-to-head polling has been closer since August 2014, with Schauer and Snyder narrowly winning polls from EPIC-MRA and Detroit News-WDIV, respectively. A We Ask America poll in late September showed a tie race between Schauer and Snyder, with 10 percent of voters undecided.[15]


Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Rick Snyder ahead of the general election. Bloomberg coupled the endorsement with $2.3 million in TV ad purchases on behalf of Snyder, citing the governor's independent-mindedness as a reason for the support. The former mayor also endorsed Democratic candidate Gary Peters in the U.S. Senate race.[16]

Convention challenge for Calley

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley faced a challenge from Wes Nakagiri in the August 23 state Republican convention, and received enough precinct delegates to hold off the challenge. Gov. Rick Snyder announced his desire to see Calley join him on the ticket, but party rules dictated that the convention's delegates select nominees rather than the general public. Eleven employees from the governor's and lieutenant governor's offices sought delegate seats in the primary. There was also an influx of money from the Michigan Advocacy Trust, which distributed mailers supporting pro-Calley candidates in Clinton County[17] Calley defeated Nakagiri during the convention, with reports noting that the lieutenant governor received at least 60 percent of delegate votes.[18]


October 13 debate

Rick Snyder (R) and Mark Schauer (D) clashed over Detroit's bankruptcy proceedings, education spending and same-sex marriage during a debate at Wayne State University. Snyder argued on behalf of the state emergency manager's decision to take Detroit into bankruptcy, noting that the city was only months away from shedding $9 billion in debts. Schauer countered that pensioners in the city should not have been asked to cut their plans, citing legal and constitutional protections for public pension plans.[19]

Schauer criticized the governor's tax reform plan implemented in 2011, which he claimed cut $1 billion in education funds, raised taxes on the middle class by $1.4 billion and cut taxes for high-income earners by $1.8 billion. Snyder defended his tax plans by noting that education spending was up $1 billion during his term in office and tax reform brought fairer rates to small business owners.[19]

Snyder, who opposed same-sex marriage during his 2010 campaign, stated that he would abide by a federal appeals court ruling regarding Michigan's ban on the practice. Schauer criticized Snyder for evading a question about his stance on same-sex marriage and supporting a law that banned benefits for the partners of state employees.[19]


Governor of Michigan - All candidates
Poll Rick Snyder* (R) Mark Schauer (D)Mary Buzuma (L)Mark McFarlin (UST)Paul Homeniuk (G)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
(September 4-7, 2014)
Mitchell Research
(September 14, 2014)
We Ask America
(September 18-19, 2014)
Mitchell Research
(September 29, 2014)
The Detroit News/WDIV
(October 2-4, 2014)
Fox 2 Detroit/Mitchell Research
(October 9, 2014)
Mitchell Research
(October 19, 2014)
AVERAGES 45.41% 42.4% 2.1% 1.27% 1.17% 7.66% +/-3.27 957.29
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.
Governor of Michigan - Major party candidates
Poll Rick Snyder* (R) Mark Schauer (D)Third Party/UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
(May 2013)
(September 2013)
Public Policy Poll
(December 5-8, 2013)
Conservative Intel Poll
(January 7-8, 2014)
(February 5-11, 2014)
Lambert, Edwards & Associates
(March 14, 2014)
Mitchell Research & Communications
(April 9, 2014)
Mitchell Research and Communications
(June 6, 2014)
(August 22-25, 2014)
Detroit News-WDIV
(September 3-5, 2014)
Rasmussen Reports
(September 17-18, 2014)
Target Insyght
(September 22-24, 2014)
(September 25-29, 2014)
Lake Research Partners
(September 26-30, 2014)
MRG Poll
(September 30-October 1, 2014)
AVERAGES 44.42% 39.75% 15.83% +/-3.77 747.27
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.
  • An asterisk denotes incumbent status.

Campaign media

Mark Schauer

Mark Schauer ad

Mark Schauer ad: "Every Penny"

Rick Snyder

Rick Snyder ad: Numbers

Rick Snyder ad: Generations

Rick Snyder ad: Linda

Rick Snyder ad: Pam

Outside groups

Democratic Governors Association

DGA ad: The Difference

DGA ad: Brainpower

DGA ad: No Way

DGA ad: Online

DGA ad: Tough Choices

DGA ad: Seniors

DGA ad: Teacher

DGA ad: Jeannette

DGA ad: Jobs Here

DGA ad: My Classroom

Republican Governors Association

RGA ad: The Schauer is Over

RGA ad: Foreign

RGA ad: Agua

RGA ad: Higher Taxes

RGA ad: Fantasy

RGA ad: Troubles

RGA ad: Past

RGA ad: Rock Star

RGA ad: Who Stands to Lose?

Michigan Nurses' Association

Michigan Nurses' Association ad

Ad spending

The Wesleyan Media Project published a report on September 30, 2014, highlighting spending on gubernatorial races from September 12-25. This report found that Democratic and Republican groups spent a total of $46.84 million on TV ads in 15 states with gubernatorial elections. The following chart details the group's findings including spending amounts and number of ads:[20]

Note: A bolded number indicates the highest total for this category. A number in italics is the lowest total for this category.

Spending on TV ads, September 12-25, 2014
State Total # of ads  % Democratic-leaning ads  % GOP-leaning ads Total spending-Democratic leaning (in millions of $) Total spending-GOP leaning (in millions of $)
Colorado 2,460 83.1 16.9 1.35 0.39
Connecticut 2,312 61.7 38.3 1.48 0.89
Florida 20,111 38.5 61.5 4.07 6.64
Georgia 4,625 51.1 48.9 1.43 0.99
Illinois 7,793 63.5 36.5 4.17 3.5
Iowa 2,134 47.5 52.5 0.25 0.38
Kansas 5,024 45.7 54.3 0.85 1.17
Maine 3,281 42.3 57.7 0.46 0.32
Michigan 6,767 33.9 66.1 1.14 2.3
Minnesota 1,974 83.9 16.1 0.65 0.29
New York 4,926 61 39 2.18 0.88
Pennsylvania 3,263 50.9 49.1 1.58 1.23
South Carolina 2,883 39.1 60.9 0.33 0.38
Texas 10,330 33.4 66.6 2.24 2.93
Wisconsin 7,374 63.3 36.7 1.36 1.01
TOTALS 85,257 48.2 51.8 23.54 23.3

Past elections

Margin of victory analysis

The average margin of victory in the past three races for governor was 12.1 percent. The smallest margin of victory was 4 percent in 2002, while the largest margin of victory was 18.2 percent in 2010. Percentages of votes for third-party candidates have increased from 1.2 percent in 2002 to 1.9 percent in 2010. The following chart compares the margin of victory for winners of gubernatorial races with the margin of victory for candidates who won the most votes for the top race on the ballot:[21]

Margin of victory analysis
Year Gov. candidate margin of victory (%) Party of winning candidate Top race on ballot Party of winning candidate Margin of victory (%)
2010 18.2 Republican Party - - -
2006 14.1 Democratic Party U.S. Senate Democratic Party 15.6
2002 4 Democratic Party U.S. Senate Democratic Party 22.7

Note: There was no statewide vote for federal office in 2010.


See also: Michigan gubernatorial election, 2010
Governor of Michigan, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRick Snyder 58.1% 1,874,834
     Democratic Virg Bernero 39.9% 1,287,320
     Green Harley Mikkelson 0.6% 20,699
     U.S. Taxpayers Stacey Mathia 0.6% 20,818
     Libertarian Ken Proctor 0.7% 22,390
     Write-in Write-in candidates 0% 27
Total Votes 3,226,088


Governor of Michigan, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJennifer Granholm Incumbent 56.4% 2,142,513
     Republican Dick DeVos 42.3% 1,608,086
     Libertarian Gregory Creswell 0.6% 23,524
     Green Douglas Campbell 0.5% 20,009
     U.S. Taxpayers Bhagwan Dashairya 0.2% 7,087
     Write-in Write-in candidates 0% 37
Total Votes 3,801,256


Governor of Michigan, 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJennifer Granholm 51.4% 1,633,796
     Republican Dick Posthumus 47.4% 1,506,104
     Green Douglas Campbell 0.8% 25,236
     U.S. Taxpayers Joseph Pilchak 0.4% 12,411
     Write-in Write-in candidates 0% 18
Total Votes 3,177,565

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
April 22, 2014 Filing deadline for political party candidates
July 7, 2014 Filing deadline for minor party candidates
August 5, 2014 Primary election
November 4, 2014 General election

Recent news

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All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Michigan Gubernatorial Election News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  2. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  3. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013 through January 3, 2014 researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  4. Michigan Secretary of State, "Filing Requirements for Secretary of State and Attorney General: 2014 Election Cycle," accessed August 5, 2014
  5. Mark Schaur for Governor Campaign Website, "Home," accessed May 29, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Public Policy Polling, "Snyder's popularity plummets," December 18, 2012
  7. Ann Arbor, "Ann Arbor man looks to wage Independent campaign for governor of Michigan," May 30, 2013
  8. MLive.com, "Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero won't run for governor, Senate or Congress in 2014," March 20, 2013
  9. Governing, Michigan Governor Announces Re-election Bid, Despite Controversies, February 4, 2014
  10. Public Policy Polling, "Snyder's popularity plummets," December 18, 2012
  11. Public Policy Polling, "An early look at the 2014 governor landscape," November 12, 2012
  12. Michigan Live, "Gov. Rick Snyder says he might not run for re-election in 2014 -- could Brian Calley or Bill Schuette succeed him?," September 25, 2011
  13. MLive, "Tim Skubick: Gov. Snyder's ads cleverly make a pre-emptive strike," September 29, 2013
  14. Huffington Post, "Rick Snyder Hopes To Be 'Reasonable Model' For GOP," September 22, 2013
  15. MLive, "AFL-CIO to target Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, other Republican governors in 2014 election cycle," August 13, 2013
  16. The Detroit News, "Bloomberg endorses Snyder, Peters," October 7, 2014
  17. MLive.com, "Michigan 2014 Primary: Snyder staffers run for precinct posts with Calley nomination on the line," August 4, 2014
  18. Detroit Free Press, "GOP chooses Calley over Nakagiri for lieutenant governor," August 23, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 The Monitor, "Michigan's only gubernatorial debate grows testy," October 13, 2014
  20. Wesleyan Media Project, "GOP Groups Keeping Senate Contests Close," September 30, 2014
  21. Michigan Secretary of State, "Previous Election Information," accessed September 19, 2014