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March 15, 2024

2024 presidential and Michigan state elections: MSU experts can comment

MSU experts can discuss national political issues to the Supreme Court and constitutional issues to Michigan's state politics and races


The 2024 presidential election is in full swing. As President Joe Biden collected enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination and former President Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, 2024 is officially a rematch of the 2020 presidential election. Despite being a presidential election year, Michigan has important statewide elections. An open U.S. Senate seat, vacated by retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow, could tip the balance of power in the Senate, potentially deciding which party holds the majority. Michigan’s seventh and eight congressional races have incumbents leaving office, making those set to be some of the most nationally watched and funded races nationally. The state House currently has an exact bipartisan split, setting up races with very high stakes.

Michigan State University experts are available to comment on many issues of the presidential election including: political parties and their evolution, campaign strategy and polling, Trump’s legal troubles and the U.S. Supreme Court, political diversity and messaging and local elections and voting. Additionally, several of these experts can comment on Michigan’s federal and state elections.

General presidential and Michigan election issues

Corwin Smidt is an associate professor of American politics and research methods in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. He can comment on national elections and polling for the presidential election as well as statewide elections.

"Michigan continues to trend toward being a battleground state, but right now it looks like a battle of attrition. Donald Trump's poll numbers really haven't improved as much since 2021 as Joe Biden's have declined, but Governor Whitmer's popularity remains high. The state Republican party continues to have fights over its management and will have a contested and possibly divisive Senate primary. Despite this, Republicans have a chance to pick up seats in the US House and state legislature because of Democratic retirements and ongoing redistricting changes."

Matt Grossmann is the director of MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and a professor of political science. He is an expert on a broad range of topics surrounding the 2024 election, including political parties ,campaigns and elections. He also oversees survey research, candidate development and legislative training at MSU. Additionally, he can discuss Michigan’s primary and elections.

The presidential nomination process evolved out of reforms to the delegate selection process for those conventions, which now means delegates are overwhelmingly selected based on presidential primary results. From the voters’ perspective, it often looks like any other election where you select your preferred candidate. But the parties still have power to coordinate their rules and selection procedures. Michigan has an opportunity to set the terms for future elections, showing that it can become engaged, with diverse interests, and earn the right to vote early in the process in 2028. Since Michigan does not have party registration, voters will be able to participate in the primary of their choice, which has provided an incentive for individuals to vote in the contest that presents the most uncertainty.”

Read more from Grossmann on MSUToday.

Dante Chinni is a research specialist in MSU’s School of Journalism and is the director of the American Communities Project in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. He can discuss polling and changes in the parties over time, as well as the voting patterns among groups in specific places. He can also comment on various Michigan political issues.

“In Michigan, and in other states, the 2024 election will be determined by the margin of victory in different kinds of places. Can the Democrats get what they need out of the big city and college town communities, like Wayne, Ingham and Washtenaw counties? Can the Republicans get the numbers they need out of blue-collar middle suburbs, such as Macomb? The turnout and margins in those kinds of places, and others, will determine who wins in November.”

Constitutional issues and the Supreme Court

Jordan Cash is an assistant professor of political theory and constitutional democracy in James Madison College. He can comment on general requests about the presidency and national elections as well as issues surrounding the Supreme Court.

“The 2024 election is already shaping up to be one of the most unusual elections in American history, but one of the most unique aspects is the role that the judiciary is likely to play in the process. With former president and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump facing indictments at both the state and federal levels, the election season is as likely to be punctuated with legal news and updates as it is with campaign speeches and negative advertising. Moreover, the Supreme Court will be critical as it has heard or will likely be hearing cases surrounding whether states can disqualify Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment and whether he has absolute immunity from when he was president. When we also consider that President Joe Biden is facing his own investigations from House Republicans, the election seems poised to not only raise the political stakes but also considerable constitutional and legal questions.”

Read more from Cash about presidential elections on MSUToday.

Brian Kalt is a professor of law and the Harold Norris Faculty Scholar in the College of Law. He can comment on 20th Amendment issues, the electoral college and presidential prosecution and immunities.

“A lot of constitutional law questions that seemed purely theoretical are now front and center in our election campaign. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will move quickly and provide some clarity and certainty on these issues so that when November rolls around, voters can make a fully informed choice.”

Ryan Black is a professor of American politics in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science, and a faculty affiliate in the College of Law. His expertise includes public opinion and the Supreme Court, and he can speak to appointments and vacancies.

“Results of the 2024 election have the potential to profoundly shift the center of gravity in the politics of appointments to the federal judiciary, which includes, most importantly, the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that a president's most enduring legacy is who they put on the High Court, but confirmation politics today make the partisan makeup of the Senate a prominent roadblock in a president’s path to success.”

Erica Frantz is an associate professor of comparative politics in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. She is a specialist on issues and themes relating to authoritarianism, and she studies democratization and the dynamics of political change. 

“Today’s democracies typically fall apart at the hands of their elected leaders, such that elections are critical focal points for understanding democratic trajectories. Importantly, research shows that where leaders come to power backed by personalist parties – or parties that are synonymous with the leader’s persona – the risk of democratic erosion increases substantially. For the U.S., this implies that the more the Republican Party becomes indistinguishable from Trump, the more American democracy is vulnerable to collapse from within should Trump return to the presidency.”

Read more from Frantz on MSUToday.

Political messaging and diversity

Dustin Carnahan is an associate professor in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. His work focuses on how exposure to political information influences people’s attitudes, beliefs and decisions. His recent research focuses on how people come to encounter and believe misinformation and the effectiveness of messages designed to correct misinformed beliefs.

“While research suggests that political misinformation does not have a profound impact on voters’ decisions, the proliferation of misinformation can have more subtle effects on voters and elections – such as fostering toxic discourse around issues and candidates, promoting political polarization and distracting from more substantive matters. Concerns around misinformation are likely to be of great interest during the upcoming election cycle as advances in AI technology pose significant challenges to voters’ ability to identify what is real and what is fake.”

Eric Juenke is an associate professor of American politics in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. He can comment on issues relating to minority candidates, specifically the candidacy and election of minority candidates. Additionally, he teaches in the Chicano/Latino Studies program.

“While we do seem to have a rematch at the top of the ticket, with a vice president who is a woman of color and another vice president who has yet to be announced but could also be a woman candidate, we will be seeing a continued diverse candidate pool this cycle, I expect. It’s still early yet in the congressional races, but there should be a number of high-profile races in the country and in Michigan that should highlight a more diverse candidate pool. While the parties still have a long, long way to go in recruiting and supporting women and racial and ethnic minority candidates to run for office, the trajectory is positive.”

Daniel Bergan is an associate professor and the director of master’s studies in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, who also has an appointment in James Madison College. His research focuses on constituent communications with policymakers.

When communicating with a policymaker, especially one with whom you disagree, you want to prevent them from discounting your opinion. One way to do this is by citing quality evidence to support your position. When contacting a policymaker about an issue, be aware that they may discount your opinion if they disagree. But note also that carefully crafted communications can convey your position without being written off — and could improve how accurately the policymaker understands public attitudes about public policies.”

Read more from Bergan on MSUToday.

Importance of local elections

Sarah Reckhow is a professor of American politics in the Department of Political Science in the College of Social Science. She can comment on topics related to education policy in the presidential election. She is a specialist on local elections and school board elections.

“Partisan polarization is having a growing impact on education politics, and we can see growing disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on key issues such as school choice and curriculum. This polarization is playing a role in elections, even nonpartisan school board elections, and it will be an important trend to watch in 2024.”

Erin Kramer is the community liaison coordinator for MSU Community and Student Relations. She also advises MSUVote to support students and the local community voting. She can comment on efforts to promote voting efforts and resources that can be offered by universities and municipalities.

“Michigan State University is home to MSUvote, an initiative that strives to support students in their civic engagement. Student participation in voting is both a right and a responsibility. MSUvote is committed to getting out the vote, reducing barriers to registration, and supporting all educational initiatives. Over the years, Michigan State has been fortunate to work with the East Lansing, Lansing, Meridian Township, and Bath Clerks to support our students in exercising their right to vote. Participation is foundational to the function of democracy, and we are committed to supporting students in that activity. MSUvote has hosted registration rallies, absentee parties, and worked to facilitate awareness of elections through multiple campus channels over the years to support participation and education. This year, the MSU STEM Building will be home to one of East Lansing’s Early Voting Centers, it will be operating Saturday Feb. 17 through Sunday Feb. 25.”

Top issues for voters

David Ortega is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where he is also a faculty laureate. He can comment on consumer, producer and agribusiness decisions that affect the agricultural and food sectors, including the cost of food, which remains a concern for many Americans.

“Persistent high food prices are a constant reminder of the economic difficulties facing voters. Although overall inflation has cooled and grocery price increases have moderated, food costs 25% more today than it did four years ago. And given the frequent nature of grocery shopping, food costs have a disproportionate impact on how voters perceive inflation.”

Michelle Kaminski is an associate professor and the associate director for undergraduate programs in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations in the College of Social Science. She can comment on labor issues, worker rights and union membership and functions.

“In the past year, we have seen a major resurgence in labor unions. Strike activity in 2023 was about double the average for the past 25 years. Led by high-profile strikes such as the ones by SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild in Hollywood, and the UAW strike in Michigan, union members won big gains. Contracts ratified in 2023 had an average first-year wage increase of 6.6 percent, and 7.3 percent if lump-sum payments were included. How will this translate into voting behavior? President Biden was the first U.S. president in history to walk a picket line in support of striking workers and earned the UAW’s endorsement. But some union workers hold him accountable for inflation issues, and other workers respond to Donald Trump’s calls for tougher immigration and border policies. Historically, union members have tended to support Democratic presidential candidates and will be a key voting block this election.”

Robert Brathwaite is the associate dean for research and an associate professor with a specialization in international relations in James Madison College. He can comment on foreign conflict and relations, including how it will impact U.S. policy and the presidential election.

“As the war between Russia and Ukraine approaches it two-year mark, the political and economic ramifications of this conflict are becoming more profound. Some political dynamics to watch this year associated with this conflict include changes in NATO’s military posture, political unity of the European Union, deepening Sino-Russian strategic cooperation, and the 2024 US presidential election. This conflict will also impact important global economic trends this year that include global energy supplies, food security, technology export controls, and the role of the US dollar in the global economy. More importantly, this ongoing conflict is a catalyst to evolving changes in the global security architecture with costs and consequences that are unknown.”    

Mae Kuykendall is a professor of law emeritus from the MSU College of Law. Her legal expertise is wide-ranging from constitutional law to race, gender and culture law, to First Amendment and corporate law. She can comment on certain issues and cases regarding abortion access and rights.

“The legal landscape is in flux in many states. The Supreme Court did not place any limits on what a state legislature could enact to restrict the medical treatment of a person seeking an abortion, or even of a pregnant person in need of emergency intervention in a doomed pregnancy. Therefore, doctors hesitate to provide care in urgent cases because of uncertainty about their exposure to draconian penalties, including imprisonment and loss of their license to practice medicine. Legislatures are still considering strong bans on abortion if the state did not already have either a trigger law that went into effect with Roe’s end, or an old law on the books from the past. Or they may wish to refine a ban already on the books. States have already used the referendum process to successfully pass protections for access to abortion and related medical care, as Michigan did.

Read more from Kuykendall on legal challenges regarding abortion on MSUToday.

Jason Miller is the interim chairperson of them Department of Supply Chain Management and the Eli Broad Professor in Supply Chain Management in the Broad College of Business. He can comment on various supply chain issues such as the impact of Suez Canal diversions on disruptions and inflation as well as the impact of tariffs on U.S. firms and consumers, as foreign conflict and trade are top of mind this presidential election.

“Business leaders across industries ranging from manufacturing and mining to retailing are closely watching the 2024 election cycle, as the outcome could substantially shape the business landscape in the form of tariffs, foreign policy toward China and Russia, and the extent of military escalation in the Mideast. All of these policies affect strategic, long-term decisions regarding global sourcing, market entry strategies, and capacity and demand planning.”

Antonio Doblas Madrid is an associate professor in the Department of Economics in the College of Social Science. He can comment on the economy and the effect of inflation, which remains a top issue for voters this year.

“The economy and inflation is an issue on the minds of many Americans. Forecasters and market-based measures of expectations both predict that inflation is likely to continue falling gradually in 2024, to about 2.5%. Thus, the inflation shock that hit the economy is expected to continue fading, although it may take some time to go that last mile from 3% to 2%. The Fed also appears to be quite optimistic on inflation, given its latest forward guidance.”

Read more from Doblas Madrid on the economy and inflation on MSUToday.

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