Republican Fred Upton beat Democrat Don Cooney 58.8% to 38.6% in the MI-6 House race two weeks ago. In a year of major Democratic triumph, I find this inscrutable (and infuriating) for a district I consider moderate (PVI R+2 as of 2004), including cities like Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor. Upton won by a similar margin (61 to 38) 2 years ago.


Kalamazoo County went 59 to 39 for Obama, but Upton won the county 53.6% to 43.8%. How to explain this? Kalamazoo and MI-6 hate Bush but love Upton? The most obvious explanation, but facile, I think. Upton has been able to lay a “moderate” line, including a whole lot of campaign-inspired gibberish about opposing Bush and reaching across the aisle formerly featured on his Wikipedia page. His grandfather was one of the founders of the Whirlpool Corporation and he, among many other Uptons, is quite wealthy and is connected to the Chicago, St. Joseph, and Kalamazoo business class, as well as the DC lobbyist class, according to FEC reports.

Now, for his opposition: lackluster, to say the least. In 2002, he was against state pol Christine Gregoire Gary Giguere and dispatched her 69 to 29. 2004, St. Joseph art dealer Scott Elliott 68 to 32; 2006, pastor, banker, and playwright Kim Clark 61 to 38. This year, WMU social work professor Don Cooney, who served on the city commission for several years, raised only $58,000 (as of Sept 30) to Upton’s $1.2 million.

Sacrificial lamb much? But you can see as well as I can that Upton’s margin is getting smaller. Kalamazoo is becoming bluer, and with the ongoing immigration to Southwest Michigan, it wouldn’t surprise me if much of the rest of the district were doing the same.

But I can’t tell because the data availability is pretty crappy. For some reason Kalamazoo County doesn’t host its own election results and the city’s precinct map is a crappy pdf. Don’t get me started on the other counties. I’m working on it — this just might become a cause.

UPDATE: Covert Township was the only place in Van Buren County where Cooney beat Upton.

Cooney held his own in Berrien County, but gave up a LOT of potential in Benton Harbor, where turnout was only about 36%, and even all the registered voters were probably only half the eligible population.

The only place Cooney won in Cass County (which went for Obama) was the city of Dowagiac.