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Abortion now selling point for Michigan. How did your neighbors vote?

  • Michigan is touting its reproductive rights in economic development efforts
  • Newly released voting data shows abortion-rights support strongest in cities, college towns and in wealthier parts of Michigan.
  • Opposition to the Proposal 3 amendment was strongest in southwest Michigan and the Thumb

More than six months after Michigan voted to make access to abortion a constitutional right, the issue remains at the forefront for policymakers.

State lawmakers recently added abortion to the state’s civil rights protections, and nearly 40 bills are pending in the Legislature related to reproductive rights. 

Abortion access is a talking point of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s marketing effort to jump-start Michigan’s stagnant population, while a progressive group bought a billboard in Florida promoting Michigan’s abortion rights.


But attitudes may be fairly nuanced in Michigan, according to precinct-level data of vote results for the Proposal 3 ballot measure that were released last week by the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

The data from nearly 4,700 precincts offers the most precise glimpse into residents’ views about reproductive rights, which have become more contested since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

While the amendment passed with 57 percent of the vote, a Bridge Michigan analysis shows support was not evenly distributed.

Nor did the results of the amendment perfectly align with where Whitmer  prevailed over conservative Republican challenger Tudor Dixon in the November election.

Here are a few takeaways:

Proposal 3 by precinct

Michigan voters last November voted to make access to abortion a constitutional right. Gov. Grethen Whitmer handily won reelection, with most of her supporters backing Proposal 3. But many of those who voted for Republican Tudor Dixon also supported the measure. Use this map to explore voting patterns across the state. The search tool allows you to zoom into a particular address or community.r

Source: Bridge Michigan spatial analysis of election results.

Many Dixon voters supported Proposal 3

During the campaign, Dixon argued abortion, which she opposes except when the mother’s life is in danger, shouldn’t be a part of the governor’s race because Proposal 3 was on the ballot.

And many people voted for her but disagreed with her position on abortion. In nearly one-fifth of the precincts where Dixon beat Whitmer, a majority of voters also supported Proposal 3. 

Dixon, of Norton Shores in west Michigan, got 80 percent of her votes in precincts that opposed Proposal 3. 

Whitmer cruised to re-election by 11 percentage points, and the link between support for her and Proposal 3 was more direct: 99.5 percent of her votes came from voters in precincts that also backed Proposal 3.

Urban centers

Some of the strongest support for Proposal 3 — and Whitmer — came in Democratic strongholds of Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac, where high percentages, often over 80 percent, backed Proposal 3 while also giving Whitmer huge margins over Dixon.

Statewide, over 80 percent of voters in 588 precincts voted ‘yes’ on Proposal 3.

Although the map looks predominantly opposed to abortion, there are far fewer voters in the rural areas, while metro Detroit is home to 40 percent of the state’s population.

The amendment won with 68 percent of the vote in Wayne County and 64 percent and 55 percent in Oakland and Macomb counties. It picked up nearly 55 percent of the vote in Kent County, which has over 650,000 people and is the fourth-largest county after Wayne, Oakland and Macomb.

College towns

Voters in many college communities, where voters are typically younger and more liberal, strongly backed Proposal 3. It passed by big margins in Ann Arbor (University of Michigan) and much of Washtenaw County, and in Kalamazoo (Western Michigan), Ingham (Michigan State), Isabella (Central Michigan) and Marquette (Northern Michigan) counties.

And in Ottawa County, where voters opposed Proposal 3 with 59 percent against the ballot measure, it also failed in suburban Allendale Township. 

But in the precinct where Grand Valley State University is, the constitutional amendment passed 75 percent ‘yes’ to 25 percent ‘no.’

Water and wealth

Many precincts in wealthy communities, which also have higher percentages of college graduates, also gave Proposal 3 strong support. 

Some of the wealthiest communities in Oakland County — Bloomfield Township, Birmingham, Beverly Hills — all supported the measure with over 65 percent in favor.

There was similar support in upper middle-class communities such as East Grand Rapids in Kent County and Okemos in Ingham County.

Along the coast of Lake Michigan, from the Indiana border up to the Straits of Mackinac, where waterfront homes can cost $1 million or more, many precincts backed the abortion proposal. 

Most communities along the less wealthy Lake Huron shoreline did not.

Not all wealthy communities backed it however: In Grosse Pointe Shores, with a median income twice that of the state, voters opposed the ballot measure. The other four Grosse Pointe communities supported it.

Some opposed abortion — but backed Whitmer

There were a few precincts where Proposal 3 lost yet voters still backed Whitmer, including east Dearborn and Hamtramck, home to Middle Eastern and Bangladeshi communities.

Opposition to Proposal 3 was strongest in pockets of west Michigan outside of Grand Rapids and the Thumb. Five precincts in Ottawa and Allegan counties rejected it with over 80 percent ‘no’ votes, along with four precincts in Missaukee County, one of the most conservative in the state, and one each in precincts in Huron and Sanilac counties.

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