While Michigan was casting its electoral votes for Barack Obama this year – an inevitability given his $80 billion auto bailout — the state was soundly rejecting his policies through two major ballot proposals.
Despite the support of Bill Clinton and millions of dollars from the Big Green lobby, a ballot initiative changing the Michigan Constitution to require 25 percent of the state’s power be generated by renewables (i.e., wind) by 2025 went down in flames Election Day by a vote of nearly 2-1, 64 percent to 36 percent. A study by the Mackinac Center and the Beacon Hill Institute estimated that the so-called 25×25 proposal would hike electricity costs by 15 percent at a cost of 10,000 jobs in a manufacturing state that is still struggling to get unemployment under 9 percent — and where industry depends on cheap electricity to remain competitive.
Obama surrogate Clinton publicly endorsed 25×25 during the fall campaign. In addition, the president’s Big Green allies mobilized their national network of wealthy donors to back the initiative with the National League of Conservation Voters throwing in $1.8 million; Green Tech Action Fund, $1.7 million; Blue Green Alliance, $1.4 million; the American Wind Energy Association, $1 million; and Julian H. Robertson Jr., $1 million.
But 25×25 was only the second-most expensive ballot initiative in the state. Big Labor put over $20 million on the line to try and reverse wage and benefit reforms instituted by Mitt Romney’s twin — former private equity mogul turned governor, Rick Snyder.
From the NLRB’s mugging of Boeing to the UAW bailout, Obama has been a reliable tool of Big Labor. Yet Big Labor suffered its second consecutive state rebuke this year when Michigan followed Wisconsin in rejecting union attempts to reverse the fiscally responsible progress of a Republican governor. Proposal 2 would have cemented into the Michigan Constitution state employee contracts covering wages and benefits. It was soundly defeated by voters: 58 percent to 42 percent.
Democrats hoped both initiatives would set precedents for other states. Both were soundly rejected.
If presidential elections are American Idol contests, then state ballot measures are issues tests. Obama is still America’s #1 political celebrity — but even solidly blue-state Michigan prefers red-state economics.