Michigan’s political geography is shifting. These interactive maps show how.
LANSING — Michigan officials this month released the most detailed voting data yet of the 2020 election, and it contains plenty of surprises.
Vote tallies of the state’s 4,700 precincts reveal in exacting specificity how Democrat Joe Biden carried Michigan en route to the presidency over Republican Donald Trump.
The path to victory has been told: Biden deepened his Democratic advantage in big cities and made inroads in suburbs, even as Trump extended his support in rural and outstate communities.
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But did you know about the one precinct in reliably Democratic Detroit that went for Trump?
Or that Biden extended his support in greater Grand Rapids into Ada Township, winning four of eight precincts in the former home of several members of the conservative DeVos family?
Biden won by flipping 49 cities and townships across the state, including Republican-leaning suburbs like Livonia in Wayne County and Rockford in Kent County. That offset a surge for Trump, who carried 14 townships by more than 75 percent after receiving less than 70 percent of their support in 2016 and flipped three communities that went Democrat that year.
The precinct-level data gives a glimpse into how Michigan is changing, especially when using a slider (the black line on the map) to compare 2020 results to 2016.
Precinct-level vote totals, 2020 election
The Michigan Secretary of State has released precinct-level election results, offering a granular look at political geography. Below are maps created by Bridge Michigan of the 2020 — and the 2016 — presidential elections, allowing you to see how every precinct voted You can use the “search” feature to zoom in on a specific address or city by typing in the information. Be sure to include the state. For instance, to find a precinct in Benton Harbor, you would type “Benton Harbor, Michigan.” Once the map zooms in, then click on the area to see how it voted.
Here are six takeaways by region that provide a deeper understanding of Michigan’s political geography.
West and southwest Michigan
This region is one of the most vivid examples of how Trump’s struggles with educated and affluent suburban voters. Biden became just the second Democrat to win Kent County since 1964, joining former President Barack Obama, who won there in 2008 but lost it in 2012.
In the Grand Rapids area, Biden outperformed 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to beat Trump in inner-ring suburbs like Kentwood and Wyoming, and carry precincts in outer-ring suburbs like Grandville and Ada Township that Trump won.
Grand Rapids moves left
Much of Kent County backed President Joe Biden in 2020, flipping the region to the Democrat. To see the changes, use your cursor to move the vertical black bar left and right.
In other parts of southwest Michigan, entire communities flipped to Biden, while more rural areas became even bigger supporters of Trump.
Presidential election in southwest Michigan, 2020
Presidential election in southwest Michigan, 2016
Metro Detroit shifts left
Biden’s strong performance in suburban Oakland County helps explain his win, as voters in well-educated and relatively affluent communities abandoned Trump.
In Rochester, Trump won by 9 percentage points in 2016 but lost to Biden by 2 points last year. In Rochester Hills, Trump followed a nearly 6 point win with a 3 point loss.
Democrats again dominated Detroit, but Biden also outperformed Clinton in Wayne County suburbs, flipping Northville Township, Plymouth Township and prevailing in several precincts in Grosse Pointes.
Trump carried Macomb County again, but his margin shrunk from 12 to 8 points. Biden outperformed Clinton in Warren and flipped Clinton Township, where Trump had won by more than 4 points in 2016 before Biden pulled out the 1-point win.
Presidential election in metro Detroit, 2020
Presidential election in metro Detroit, 2016
Up North sticks with Trump
Northern Michigan again helped fuel Trump’s strong performance in the state, where he managed to pick up 370,309 more votes than he did in 2016.
Presidential election in northern Michigan, 2020
Presidential election in northern Michigan, 2016
Biden made only minor inroads with wealthier voters near Lake Michigan, outperforming Clinton in Traverse City and flipping some coastal communities like Leland and Lake Townships.
Trump carried much of the Upper Peninsula, reinforcing the GOP’s firm grip in an area last represented by a congressional Democrat in 2010.
South central Michigan flips — both ways
Michigan’s urban-rural divide was evident in mid-Michigan, where Biden outperformed Clinton in larger cities like Lansing but Trump bested his 2016 performance in some highly conservative regions.
In Battle Creek, Biden got 54 percent of the vote in 2020, 3 points more than Clinton. Biden also flipped Marshall, while Trump flipped Emmett Charter Township, just outside of Battle Creek, and grew his vote totals in nearby rural counties like Barry, Coldwater and Hillsdale.
Presidential election in south central Michigan, 2020
Presidential election in south central Michigan, 2016
Trump increases support in Thumb
Trump again dominated this reliably conservative and heavily rural Thumb region, besting Biden by more than 30 percentage points in St. Clair, Sanilac, Lapeer, Huron and Tuscola counties. A number of counties actually gave Trump more support in 2020 than they had four years earlier.
Presidential election in the Thumb, 2020
Presidential election in the Thumb, 2016
I-75 Corridor hints at enduring change
Biden dominated Flint, as expected, but Democrats lost ground in rural areas just outside the city, including Genesee Township, where Trump flipped two precincts.
Similar dynamics played out in Bay City, where Biden outperformed Clinton but Trump grew his margin in more heavily white blue-collar communities like Essexville, where GOP trends helped Republican state Rep. Timothy Beson beat incumbent Democrat Brian Elder.
But in Midland, which Trump won by 7 percentage points in 2016, Biden won in 2020, 50-48.
Presidential election in I-75 Corridor, 2020
Presidential election in I-75 Corridor, 2016
Editor's note: This story was corrected at 11:44 a.m. April 23 to clarify that Republican Donald Trump carried the communities of Ada and Grandville in west Michigan, but Democrat Joe Biden won precincts in those traditionally conservative areas.
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