2022 in Hindsight

We took a look back at expert predictions for last year to see if they align with what really happened in 2022.
Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh

A year is a long time in politics and life. When Hour Detroit asked an esteemed panel of experts in November 2021 to offer predictions for 2022, there was an awful lot they couldn’t have imagined. Like, say, that half the field of Republican gubernatorial candidates would disappear from the ballot due to signature fraud. Or that redistricting would help Democrats retake both chambers of the state Legislature for the first time in 40 years (the new maps weren’t ready until January 2022).

That said, it’s pretty impressive how right our gang was. Let’s check their work!

How will Detroit City Councilmember Coleman Young II and Mayor Mike Duggan get along?

The history between Duggan and Young was fraught because Young ran a vicious, highly personal, and ultimately humiliating (to Young) campaign against the sitting mayor in 2017. Still, the son of the city’s first Black — and perhaps most beloved — mayor earned himself an at-large seat on the City Council in 2021, so the two were poised to work together one way or the other.

So how’d it go? As our panel predicted, super-duper! In fact, panelists Jer Staes of the Daily Detroit podcast and Hazel Park City Councilmember Luke Londo suggested there would be disagreements that would be handled agreeably, but even that seemed to overstate the remains of the feud.

The two men appeared to have not even the remotest hint of a public clash in 2022, which started with Duggan backing Young and others’ effort to replace a statue of former U.S. Senator Lewis Cass in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., with one of Young’s father. By the end of the year, Young was singing Duggan’s praises over efforts to reopen the Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport.

If Roe v. Wade is struck down, will that impact the 2022 elections in Michigan?

When interviews were conducted with the panel, it still seemed far-fetched that the U.S. Supreme Court would go that far in imperiling the right to abortion that Americans had known for nearly 50 years.

Then it happened. By the end of June, Roe was history and Michiganders were facing the resurrection of a draconian 1931 law that made terminating a pregnancy a felony. The Michigan Court of Claims struck that statute down in September, but the 2022 election became in large part a question about what might happen next.

The panel did not predict a constitutional amendment would be on the ballot to codify abortion rights, a move that helped gin up enthusiasm among Democratic voters. But GOP consultant Dennis Darnoi was prescient when he said, “It takes the conversation off the economy, off education, off [Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”

That it did. Republicans tried mightily to shift the discussion to inflation, gas prices, critical race theory, and transgender kids in sports. And Democrats stuck with one dominant reproductive freedom theme.

Will Gretchen Whitmer get reelected?

The group said yes but hedged to say it would be close. It was not close. Whitmer thumped Dixon by about the same 10-point margin by which she thumped 2018 opponent Bill Schuette.

Her stringent COVID-19 policies were not the albatross many thought they’d be, and 2022 was also not the wave election year that Republicans had hoped — and pundits expected — it to be.

Chaos on the GOP side threw the most prominent (ex-Detroit Police Chief James Craig) and well-funded (Kevin Rinke and Perry Johnson) candidates off the ballot and left the field for Dixon, a little-known activist and first-time candidate with endorsements from Betsy DeVos and, eventually, former President Donald Trump.

When the Supreme Court made abortion rights a key issue, Whitmer was well placed to fight that fight and to speak to suburban and independent female voters who might have been swayed by Dixon’s economic message.

How about Jocelyn Benson and Dana Nessel?

This one is a matter of interpretation. The panel felt Secretary of State Benson’s
and Attorney General Nessel’s fortunes would rise and fall with Whitmer’s. In the end, though, Benson got more votes than Whitmer, and both Benson’s and Nessel’s paths were made easier by the extremist, 2020-election-denying opponents — Kristina Karamo and Matthew DePerno, respectively — sent their way by the GOP.

Both women seized key issues near and dear to them at opportune moments. Benson got to spend the year talking about protecting elections and democracy from people like Karamo who parroted Trump’s lies about voter fraud in 2020. Nessel, as AG, got to fight in court to strike down the 1931 abortion ban that was still on the books in Michigan.

Nessel and Benson may have enjoyed a small lift from being a part of an unusual all-female top-of-ticket triumvirate, but each woman earned her own landslide.

Will recreational marijuana shops open in Detroit this year?

Everyone said no, and everyone was right. The city’s plans got snarled when federal courts rejected a plan to help longtime Detroiters get licenses.

A compromise plan is now in place, already tested and upheld by the courts, that will allow for up to 100 dispensaries, 30 micro-businesses, and 30 consumption lounges. Half of the licenses will go to “social equity” applicants. The process should get going in high (haha) gear in 2023.

What will COVID-19 be by the end of 2022?

The panel said it would be a “dull headache,” and that’s about right for most folks. Although it is the third largest cause of death in Michigan, with people of all ages now able to be vaccinated and effective treatments readily available, we don’t hear much about shutdowns because of outbreaks. Health care settings still require masks, but otherwise it’s remarkable how normal things are.

As Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer predicted, “It will become just one more risk that you manage, like you do all the other risks in your life.” And Tom Ivacko, executive director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan, also nailed it: “The 2022 election outcomes will be the hot topic — including what they mean for Trump and his hold on the GOP looking toward 2024.”

Will any Michigan pro sports teams have a winning record in 2022?

With the caveat that the Detroit Lions are 4-7 as of mid-November and could theoretically emerge with more wins than losses, the panel was correct that Motown has but one set of winners: Detroit City Football Club.

The team, which moved over to the United Soccer League after a few years of dominating the National Independent Soccer Association, eked out a 14-12-8 record, good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

The season ended in late October in a 3-1 loss to Memphis 901 in a quarterfinal play- off matchup.

This story is from the January 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition