Ben Pershing, in his Capitol Briefing blog on The Washington Post's website, describes the current state of play in the upcoming race for governor of Michigan. Democratic incumbent Jennifer Granholm is term-limited.
When the Republicans were the party of the North, and Democrats the party of the South (before the electoral map got turned upside down in the mid-to-late 20th century), the G.O.P. dominated Michigan politics. From the beginning of the Civil War to the end of World War II, Republican governors were in office for 70 years, to only 14 years for Democrats. However, the parties have spent just about equal amounts of time in that office in the post-war years.
The presidential vote in Michigan since 1948 has also been split 50/50, with the state's electoral votes going eight times to Democrats and eight times to Republicans. However, Democrats have carried the state in the five most recent presidential elections.
From a national perspective, Democrats have made gains during the current recession. However, it may be the inevitable fate of a Democratic governor such as Granholm, to be caught up in an anti-incumbent mood, regardless of which party holds power in Washington. Some high-profile Republicans seem willing to try to exploit that mood.