Few, though, believe the transformation is complete. "I definitely see it as a trend toward more Democratic," says Gretchen Driskell. "If this continues, then years from now it'll be much more Democratic," agrees Mark Ouimet.
"We saw a sea change in this last election," says Keenan Pontoni, Driskell's campaign manager, "but it's been coming for a while. The Republican numbers were artificially high in 2010 because the Tea Party was particularly effective in districts like ours, where there are rural areas. But many Tea Party supporters became disillusioned in the last two years, and the movement lost a lot of momentum. There has been a political sentiment change, and we are going to see this district become more Democratic."
The same can't be said for Michigan as a whole. Though Republicans lost some ground in November, they still hold majorities in both the state house and senate. "Gretchen's got an uphill climb ahead of her," says Clark. "She's a bright lady who can work well with others, but as long as I've been here, the Republicans in Lansing haven't paid any attention to Washtenaw County Democrats."
Driskell readily acknowledges the difficulty of her task. "I'm in the minority. I'm not thinking I can change the world here."