With 2015 days away from ending, it is time to look at the top Washtenaw County election stories of 2015 before moving on to the coming year’s election news. Based on the number of Facebook shares and likes, five stories stood out, four of which shared two common themes, looking forward to next year’s presidential election and Donald Trump, not necessarily in that order. Trump dominated the most popular articles that much.
The difficulties Trump might face running in Michigan as an independent candidate for President came in first. The New York real estate mogul and former reality television star also made cameo appearances in two articles about Michigan polls in which he came in second. Trump’s name even appeared in a story about a fundraiser for a Democratic candidate.
Only one of the top five articles neither looked ahead nor mentioned Trump. Instead, it was about the defeat of Proposal 1, the result of the only statewide election in Michigan that happened this year.
Trump possibly running afoul of Michigan’s sore loser law was the most popular election story of 2015. It earned 981 likes and shares on Facebook. It also received the most comments of any article last year with twenty-five.
Trump’s refusal to pledge that he would support the Republican nominee and rule out an independent run for President as his answer to the first question of the first Republican debate formed the basis for the article. If Trump were to run as an independent, he would have had to make a decision by December of this year. Otherwise, Trump might end up without his name on Michigan’s ballot in November 2016 because of Michigan’s sore loser law, a provision of Michigan’s election law that prevents the loser in one party’s primary election from running as an independent or a nominee of another party in the general election. Unlike most other states’ version of this law, Michigan’s also applies to presidential candidates.
The deadline to make that decision has since passed. Trump will be on the ballot for Michigan’s Republican primary, which will be held March 8, 2016.
Trump coming in second behind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appropriately enough placed second among this year’s stories with 790 likes and shares. The poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in late June showed Walker leading by one percent at fifteen percent. Trump tied for second with Michigan native neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at fourteen percent. Florida Senator Marco Rubio headed the rest of the field at nine percent.
The next poll, which was conducted in early August by Fox 2 and Mitchell during August, had Trump leading the field by five points at twenty percent. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina came in second at fifteen percent. Carson and Bush tied for third at twelve percent, while Rubio remained in fifth at ten percent. Walker had fallen to three-way tie with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee for eighth place at four percent. By the end of the month, Walker dropped out of the Republican presidential contest, the first candidate to do so.
A September poll by Marketing Research Group poll had Carson in the lead with 24 percent, Trump second with 22 percent, and Bush third at eight percent. Fiorina had fallen to a tie for sixth place at four percent with Texas Senator Ted Cruz behind Huckabee at six percent and Rubio at four percent.
Carson’s high standings in the polls continued through November, when the third most popular story of the year with 44 likes and shares showed him leading former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York among likely voters in Michigan, 46 percent to 40 percent. The poll also found Carson ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, 45 percent to 36 percent.
Trump fared less well in the poll, which was conducted by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ. The survey said that both Clinton and Sanders would beat Trump in Michigan. Clinton led Trump 46 percent to 38 percent, while Sanders was ahead 48 percent to 36 percent. The latest polls from Real Clear Politics still show Trump losing to Clinton and Sanders in head-to-head choices while Carson has now fallen behind both Democratic candidates.
Skipping down to the fifth most popular article on Facebook, a story about Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley stopping in Ann Arbor for a fundraiser on his way to Iowa that received 21 likes and shares, showed that even a Democratic campaign event could not escape Trump. U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell of Dearborn mentioned the Republican candidate.
“Donald Trump excites people,” Dingell was quoted by Michigan Radio. “You know what he believes. You know what he thinks.”
The fourth most popular article with 31 shares and likes reported on the landslide defeat of Proposal 1. The complicated measure to fund road repair and construction lost eighty percent to twenty percent. That was the largest margin of defeat for any statewide measure since Michigan’s current constitution was adopted in 1963. The state legislature has since approved a simpler road funding plan that has been signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.
So long, 2015. On to 2016, which promises to be another year of Trump.