Don’t blame fraud: Dwindling suburban support lost Michigan for Trump

President Donald Trump is claiming fraud cost him Michigan. But the results closely mirror demographic trends and the vote breakdown of the 2018 gubernatorial election. (Shutterstock photo by noamgalai)

Without evidence, President Donald Trump on Thursday claimed he had won Michigan and that “corruption” in Detroit had prevented his official victory.

The numbers tell a far different story.

While laser-focused on Detroit, the Trump campaign has said little about any voting problems in the suburbs of metro Detroit and Grand Rapids, places where Democrats saw the huge gains that propelled former Vice President Joe Biden to a victory in the state.

The Detroit results — Biden won by 233,000 votes — are in line with historical trends, except Trump got 5,000 more votes there than he did in 2016.

Corwin Smidt, a political science professor at Michigan State University, said the Democratic vote totals in the city, its turnout and its totals compared to the rest of Wayne County were all in line with recent federal and state elections.

“Detroit … it’s within the pattern in Wayne County,” he said. 

Biden’s win was instead crafted beyond Detroit, in the suburbs where Democrats came out in big numbers and many Republicans likely switched their support to the former vice president.

But Trump isn’t talking about those profound changes, in mostly white communities in suburban Oakland County and Kent County.

Biden flipped Kent County in west Michigan to Democrats four years after Trump won it by 9,500 votes. Like Detroit, it took a while to count.

Lisa Posthumus Lyons, the Republican clerk of Kent County, said there were no problems with the count that finished 36 hours after the polls closed, she said, because over 200,000 absentee votes were cast, well more than double any previous election.

“There was nothing that was unexpected. It was not out of the ordinary,” she said. “We were not going to sacrifice security and accuracy for speed.”

Kent County finished counting ballots ahead of Wayne County and Detroit, but not by much. Posthumus Lyons said counting absentee ballots is an “arduous” process that simply takes time.

Those many hours, she said, “it’s not an indication of fraud, it’s an indication that we’re doing things well,” she said.

Nor did the Trump camp mention Livingston County, whose clerk is a Republican. A surge of Democratic voters there — Republican votes increased too, buoyed by a 20 percent increase in votes — narrowed Trump’s margin from 31,300 in 2016 to 28,800.

Clerk Elizabeth Hundley said no one has questioned her totals and she stands by them.

Hundley was pleased that nearly 80 percent of the county’s registered voters cast ballots, including nearly 79,000 by absentee ballot, a record. “I can only hope … that voters should always be this engaged,” she said.

Trump was hurt in other areas that have not been mentioned as potential sources of fraud or incompetence:

  • In Macomb County, Trump won but received nearly 10,000 fewer votes than he did in 2016. 

  • In Midland County, Trump received 1,000 fewer votes than in 2016.

  • In Northville, the home of Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, voters supported Biden by 55 percentage points after giving Clinton a narrow 49-46 percent win over Trump in 2016.

Across the state, turnout increased more in Trump-leaning counties and less in Democratic-leaning ones, said Smidt, the Michigan State professor.

In fact, Michigan’s countywide vote breakdowns in the 2018 gubernatorial race and this year’s primaries closely mirror the results from the 2020 election, Smidt said.

There were no unexplainable surges of Democratic votes in any county.

“In the end I don’t see any reason that there’s ‘manufactured’ voters anywhere or there were extra votes counted,” Smidt said.

Kent’s flip to Biden was foreshadowed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s win there in 2018, and the blue shift in Oakland by the same 2018 election that saw several congressional and state legislative seats flipped by Democrats.

Take Ottawa County, one of the most reliably Republican counties in the nation. Trump won with 62 percent in 2016 but by just under 60 percent this week. Combined with a rise in Democratic votes, Trump won the county by 7,500 fewer votes than he had in 2016.

That doesn’t surprise Smidt because former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette won there with 57 percent of the vote despite casting himself as the pro-Trump candidate.

“Everything I’m seeing is fitting the pattern,” he said.

And if Democrats were to rig an election for Biden in Detroit, wouldn’t they also try to help U.S. Sen. Gary Peters in his bid to hold off Republican John James?

Peters, who narrowly beat James, got 227,486 votes in Detroit, 6,422 fewer than Biden. 

James got 12,734 votes, 80 votes more than Trump got.

State Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, is a former Oakland County clerk and Michigan secretary of state. Her office audited Detroit’s 2016 election and found widespread problems — but not intentional fraud.

She said she’s concerned about what she has heard about this week’s counting process, including the alleged restriction of Republican poll challengers from the absentee counting areas. 

Despite those problems, though, Johnson said she does not believe a challenge could uncover enough evidence to change Biden’s victory.

“I think it would be an awful tall mountain to climb,” she said.

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Concerned voter
Fri, 11/06/2020 - 7:41pm

"Don’t blame fraud: Dwindling suburban support lost Michigan for Trump."

The best way to do this is to identify irregularities, illegal ballots, and examples of fraud that did take place within this election. With what remains we can make good conclusions on the election. Until then Fraud, such as Detroit City Workers and Michigan Postal workers backdating ballots, is still an issue.

The state has earned a recount and an audit of it's processes.

Sat, 11/07/2020 - 5:22am

Hogwash, Concerned, you can't just make up crap.

Concerned Voter
Sun, 11/08/2020 - 5:43am

Sorry to disappoint Dawn, but what I said is true. There were many irregularities in Michigan's election.

1) Shiawassee had a typo worth about 138,000 votes.
2) Antrim County had a computer glitch worth about 6,000 blaming a software issue. That same software was used in 47 counties and a majority of states.
3) Rochester Hills found 2,000 ballots that were caught as a glitch changing the result of one race there.
4) St Mary County were late in finding (misplaced?) some ballots.
5) A postal worker in Traverse City is working with investigators over his bosses backdating mail in ballots.
6) A Detroit city worker is working with investigators over orders to backdate ballots.
7) Numerous issues and irregularities from the TCF center that may cause blocks of ballots to be removed from the end result if that process was not found to follow election law.

The list keeps growing, unfortunately. Some issues appear to be accidental and some may be intentional. But the mistakes could be systemic and need to be investigated.

Wed, 11/11/2020 - 5:02pm

I agree 100% Jimmy, It always amuses me when are political opponents think it is ok to change the rules of the game as they move forward. They need to begin to understand they are not the majority anymore. With the new Voters Commission actually drawing the congressional districts fairly from now on. Of course lets include a Liberal Majority of the Michigan Supreme Court. This is not politics as usual anymore. We the people will remember in 2022 and 2024. Its time to vote out all Republican's statewide. The best part would be if all 3 of his Supreme Court Justices that Trump nominated were made to answer a lot questions about their inter-action with him. You may ask why ? on the last statement but, just think about the fact he may have asked them, (all) to pledge loyalty to him. He could also have sought assurances from them to protect him legally. That would make the Untied States Supreme Court itself illegitimate.

Just sayin'
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 12:57pm

FOX News called the election: Biden WON!
QAnon is now history.

Alfred Pennyworth
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 7:20pm

For Sale: 3 Trump Flags. Like new, no "love" stains. $1 each or best offer.

Reason prevailed
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 5:21am

College educated voters learn critical thinking skills and they can spot a snakeoil salesman. It's not rocket science. Just be glad it's over.

Wed, 11/11/2020 - 7:19am

So you voted for Trump, right?

Sat, 11/07/2020 - 12:54pm

Congratulations President Elect Biden! I know how to get Trump to leave the White House. Put a table outside the fence with a pile of Big Macs and a bucket of KFC on it. When he takes the bait close the gates, simple. God bless America!

Gary Lea
Sun, 11/08/2020 - 8:42am

What a good chuckle I had; thank you.

Tue, 11/10/2020 - 11:24am

I was hoping SNL would use it, royalty free.

Fraud is evident
Sat, 11/07/2020 - 10:27pm

We have multiple examples of potential fraud in this election already. From backdating ballots in Traverse City to a “glitch” which switched votes from a Trump to Biden. That particular “glitch” is in many counties and many states across the nation. The election will not be legitimate unless a hand count is performed and EVERY ballot validated.

Wed, 11/11/2020 - 6:12am

So the GOP clerks are to blame then? The Michigan House and Senate were also on that same ballot, does that mean the GOP won those through fraudulent means? Did Peter Meijer only win because of fraud?