In Michigan, Trump expands support in rural counties; Biden carries suburbs

As an anxious nation turns its glare upon the Midwest, it’s staring hard at Michigan and incomplete election results that show President Donald Trump clinging to a lead.

Trump, who as much as declared victory in the state around 2:30 a.m., led much of Tuesday night and deep into Wednesday morning. 

But as other county results poured in, Biden had narrowed the gap considerably by 7:30 a.m. and it was becoming close to a dead heat.

A deeper look to both the official and unofficial tallies show there is cause for both optimism and alarm for both Republicans and Democrats.

Trump, a Republican, was able to expand his support in rural counties from 2016, when he upset Democrat Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, he rolled up impressive numbers throughout the Thumb and northern Michigan.

The biggest gain, in terms of margin, has so far been in St. Clair County, where he beat former Vice President Joe Biden by 3,400 more votes than he had bested former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But Trump’s margins dropped in many traditionally heavy Republican counties, including Ottawa and Midland counties. 

Ottawa, once considered one of the most Republican counties in the state, backed Trump with 60 percent of the vote. But he won in 2016 with 62 percent; his victory margin over his Democratic rival fell from 43,494 in 2016 to 35,945 this year, in unofficial returns.

For the Democratic Biden, his biggest source of optimism is that, as of 7:30 a.m., six of the eight counties that backed Clinton have not reported complete results yet. 

What the partials show, however, is Biden overperforming Clinton, especially in Oakland and Washtenaw counties.

In Washtenaw, Biden has won by over 100,000 votes, well above Clinton’s 78,000 win. And in Oakland, in partial results, Biden is already leading by 80,000 with a number of heavy Democratic cities yet to finalize votes.

In Wayne County, with half of precincts reporting, Biden is winning by over 200,000 votes; Clinton had beaten Trump in 2016 by just over 290,000 and it looks like Biden will top that number.

Detroit, with just under half of the precincts reporting, has given Biden a 200,000-vote margin (and 94 percent of all votes), already close to the 227,000-vote margin Clinton won, which was well below the support for President Obama in 2008 and 2012.

The state’s third largest county, Macomb, has incomplete results as well. But in southern Macomb County communities like Warren and Roseville, Biden has done better than Clinton while Trump still holds, with incomplete results, a 38,000-vote lead.

Some of the most staunch Trump areas are still not complete, including Macomb Township. But Warren, which gave Clinton a 5,500-vote win, is giving Biden a nearly 10,000-vote margin.

Overall it looks like education is a predictor of Trump’s success: In the 10 counties with complete results where Trump’s victory margins declined, all but one have a higher percentage of college graduates than the state average.

Over 32 percent of all adults in Ottawa, Grand Traverse, Livingston, Clinton and Emmet counties have a college degree, compared to 28 percent statewide.

Trump won each, with 52 percent to 60 percent of the vote. But he got nearly 18,000 fewer votes in the five counties, making him have to pick up thousands more elsewhere to offset the margins he’s likely to see in big Democrat counties.

And in the 44 pro-Trump counties where he saw his margins grow, only one, Houghton, has more college graduates than the state average. His biggest gains were in places where fewer than 15 percent of adults have a college degree.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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George Hagenauer
Wed, 11/04/2020 - 9:30am

The closeness of the races does not surprise me - a lot of the Trump voters stay in place more and Democrats win in rural areas with a ground game hard to do during Covid 19. I leafleted doors but talked to few people. An interesting aspect of this is the Republicans many of whose voters fear having trackers put on them (but whose party in the process of suppressing votes actually in man yareas created state wide identity cards) , actually have the more sophisticated data and tracking systems with far more detail on each of their voters. Democrats often don't know where their voters live. I knew the Democrats were in trouble as we got phone calls from Wisconsin where my wife last voted 5 years ago. (and as I was the chief election volunteer in my town we were definitely taken off the polls). That area flipped from Republican to Democrat partially because the local progressive group (not tied to the Democratic party) kept a highly accurate database of people who shared their values. That was shared after each election with the county Democrats who seem to do nothing with it.

Thu, 11/05/2020 - 1:51pm

They hate contact tracers because everyone would find out about their cheating affairs, gay and straight. They attend Trump rallies to cover their tracks. Do we really know who gave Trump and Melania covid? Have a rally without masks and no one knows. It's the perfect fake family values party hypocritical cover.

One Term President
Wed, 11/04/2020 - 3:18pm

Trump won Michigan by 10,000 votes in 2016.
Trump lost Michigan by 130,000 votes in 2020. To know him is to loathe him, so incompetent.

sick and tired
Thu, 11/05/2020 - 12:16am

Trump will continue to let Covid-19 wreck havoc on our country before he leaves, maybe even continue to have superspreader campaign rallies. He never stopped campaigning since 2016.

Thu, 11/05/2020 - 4:46pm

I imagine when Trump finally concedes, he'll immediately announce he is running again for 2024 so he can keep holding his superspreader rallies to get the attention he so desperately craves.

Geoffrey Owen
Tue, 11/10/2020 - 1:46pm

In spite of there being some basis behind this article it was rather poorly written. Also links on the page to week old articles about who was ahead seemed very misplaced.