Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D, has won a second term in office. The incumbent defeated Republican challenger Tudor Dixon.
The race turned out to be close in the end, but in August, Whitmer held a 17-point lead. Dixon closed the gap and was within four points of Whitmer in the days leading up to the election.
Like the rest of the country, inflation was top of mind for voters and candidates in Michigan. But public education was also a key issue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan students’ scores in math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress dropped significantly this year compared to 2019, although the decreases were in line with the rest of the country.
The candidates addressed education and the pandemic’s impacts on it during their final debate.
“The reason kids were out of school during the pandemic is because we were working off of knowledge from 1918 when kids died from the last global pandemic. As a mom, all I was thinking about was saving the lives of our kids,” Gov. Whitmer said when explaining her strategy for closing schools during the height of the pandemic.
“This is shocking to me that she thinks that schools were only closed for three months,” Dixon responded. “Or maybe she thinks she can convince you that schools were closed for only three months. But you know better because your students are the ones that are desperately behind. And the test scores show she’s being dishonest about this.”
Abortion was also a key motivating factor in the race. In addition to the race for governor, Michigan voters also had to decide if they wanted to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution under the ballot referendum “Proposal 3.” There is also an abortion ban from 1931 still on the books that could go into effect but is currently being blocked in court.
Gov. Whitmer said the decision should be left up to the mother and her physician, while Dixon said she supported an abortion ban with an exception if the mother’s life is at risk.