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Gretchen Whitmer’s path to victory: Expanding support in Michigan suburbs

  • Whitmer won by growing her wins in vote-rich Oakland, Macomb and Kent counties
  • Tudor Dixon outperformed 2018 GOP nominee Bill Schuette in 47 counties
  • Historic turnout, propelled by an abortion-rights measure, helped Whitmer turn back Republican challenger

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won a second term Tuesday buoyed by historic turnout, especially in suburbs in Oakland, Macomb and Kent counties


Though Republican challenger Tudor Dixon did better in rural Michigan than GOP nominee Bill Schuette in 2018, the first-term Democrat kept her seat by appealing to the same voters crucial to President Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Michigan.


With 85 percent of precincts reporting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Whitmer led 53 percent to 45 percent for Dixon.

Turnout not only increased from 2018, when 4.25 million voters set a record, but Whitmer’s victory margin soared in Oakland to over 140,000 votes, up from 102,000 in 2018. 

She also posted gains over her 2018 tallies in Kent, Bay, Marquette, Isabella, Leelanau and Ingham counties in unofficial results.

And Whitmer flipped two northern counties — Grand Traverse and Benzie — that in 2018 backed Schuette, the former state attorney general.

That was more than enough to overcome Dixon, a west Michigan mother and former steel executive who had never run for office but who had the support of the politically-powerful DeVos family.

Dixon did better than Schuette in 47 counties. None were enough to overcome Whitmer, who was helped by turnout spurred by Proposal 3, which easily passed and enshrines abortion rights into the Michigan constitution.

Polls showed abortion was one of the most important reasons people voted.

Whitmer also carried Macomb County by more than 20,000 votes, up from 12,000 in 2018. The county backed former President Donald Trump twice.

Despite being from neighboring Muskegon County, Dixon was unable to improve upon Schuette’s 30,000-vote win in Ottawa County, one of the most Republican counties in the state.  

Former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder twice won the county by more than 43,000 votes and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney won by over 45,000 in 2012 and Trump by 43,000 in 2016. 

Dixon won by fewer than 27,000 votes.

In neighboring Kent County, which had long backed Republican candidates, Whitmer proved that Biden’s 2020 victory was no fluke: She got 54 percent of the vote, up from 50.5 percent in 2018. 

She won the county by over 31,000 votes, up from 11,500 in 2018.

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