Chair of Michigan Democrats reflects on election outcome

Brandon Dillon says Democrats will hold Republicans accountable in coming years

State Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, on the June 28, 2015 episode of "To The Point."

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In his first long interview with 24 Hour News 8 since Democrats suffered losses across the board on election night, the chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party said the results boiled down to voter turnout, the party’s message and their messenger.

Brandon Dillon had a very clear-eyed assessment of what happened to his party here in Michigan and nationally after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump.

Dillon and his colleagues are, as you would expect, not happy about the outcome. But they are also determined to learn from an election cycle that changed the fortunes of the Democrats in ways that were not fully apparent in polling leading up to the vote.

“You know our turnout was down from where it was in 2012 and their (Republicans’) turnout was up,” Dillon told 24 Hour News 8. “I mean, that’s — when you boil it down — that’s how elections are won and lost. Some of it varies regionally, but you know we got our clock cleaned everywhere in the state except for some very few pockets of areas where we saw some growth. In fact, in Kent County, we saw some positives.”

He said that going forward, his party has to assess what it can do to change the turnout.

“We’re going to have to figure out it’s not just turnout. I think people think that turnout is just how many times you knock on somebody’s door and try to pull them out. It’s also about the message and it’s also about the messenger. We have to understand the biggest determination of somebody’s propensity to vote is how they feel about their vote mattering,” Dillon said, “and obviously folks on the Republican side thought that their vote mattered and they were going to make a statement this year. They did.”

Dillon says Republicans will be on the hot seat now as they hold all the power in Washington (they control both chambers of Congress and the White House) and Lansing (they control both the chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s office). He says Democrats will hold them accountable.

You can the entirety of 24 Hour News 8 political reporter Rick Albin’s conversation with Dillon about accountability and changes on the national level on “To The Point,” Sunday at 10 a.m. on WOOD TV8.