The Path to win (or lose) Michigan – Part 25 – Da U.P, eh? (and closing analysis) – Update with Trump Numbers

I don’t think I need a map for da U.P, eh?

Part 25 – The UP outside of Academia. I put MOST of the UP here outside of the cities of Marquette (NMU) and Houghton (Michigan Tech) – 282312 – 89.4% White, 50.8% Obama 08

Snyder – 47502 votes – 50.95% – won by about 4150

Romney – 69539 votes – 52.08% – won by about 7200

Johnson – 51545 votes – 53.51% – won by about 12000

Bush 04 – 73817 votes – 52.29% – won by about 8100

Cox – 42968 votes – 47.14% – lost by about 2700

Trump – 78126 – 58.26% – won by about 29,700

Keep in mind the 5 mile long Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957 and it is an amazing construction feet considering the waters of the Great Lakes. Don’t be confused with the term “lake.” These are basically inland freshwater seas. If you doubt the power of the waters of the Great Lake, go up to Whitefish Point sometime and pay a visit to the Shipwreck Museum. While it’s a younger crowd on RRH, the Mackinac Bridge was built in the lifetime of my parents. Before the bridge, there was a ferry crossing. The UP is almost another state. The accents are different. The ties are closer in some parts to Wisconsin or Minnesota than to Michigan.  There was a half-joking bill out there calling for the 51st state to be Superior. The main sports team, especially away from I-75 isn’t the Detroit Lions. It’s the Green Bay Packers. Most of the UP is closer to Chicago than Detroit, and far from both. Green Bay is the closest “big city” outside of in some cases Duluth.  Those downstate are often called “trolls” or “flatlanders.” Those who are raised and at least graduated from High School in the UP are called Yoopers. Those who are trolls who move to the UP are called Troopers. ” Those from Wisconsin are “cheeseheads” which is a Green Bay Packers reference (although a lot of Yoopers are Packer fans). Those from Illinois are FIB’s – Either “Friendly Illinois Bretheren” or something else I can’t repeat outside of the word “Illinois”. Yoopers are friendly, but reserved, don’t like people changing their area, and despise those harming their land.  The more people survive the brutal winters, the more respect is earned. When Bart Stupak retired in 2010, one prominent moderate pro-2nd Amendment democrat official was “rumored” to be a candidate from downstate. He didn’t live in the district, but was near it. I happened to do 2nd amendment grassroots work at the time and stopped in this individual’s office. He was only considering a run where his home town is and didn’t know where the rumors came from. I think it was Politico or The Hill. This individual owned property in the UP, and the neighbors up there never been south of the bridge. They’ve been to Wisconsin, but not Mackinaw City. That’s not unheard of there and if you look at the maps, actually is quite understandable. I’ve never been to Wisconsin and haven’t been west of Newberry.

Historically this was copper and iron mining country (which is essentially dead) and lumber country (struggling) with a union tradition.  The only mining tradition you’ll see these days is in the city/township names and historical sites/museums. There is still some of that tradition with lumber, but not nearly what it used to be. Population has been dropping here for 100 years. Today, the main industries are tourism (outdoors especially) and corrections. Historically this area has been yellow dog and moderate democrat leaning, although that’s changed to some extent. Today, it’s certainly still winnable for the D’s, but it’s moving away from them to a degree with the main exception of Marquette which is now largely academia (with a strong union tradition) and possibly Houghton to a lesser extent. The UP is well known for its Finnish heritage, although there’s a significant Scandinavian, Italian, French Canadian, Chippewa, German, Pottawatomie, and Polish population as well.  Generally, they often vote for their own. Benishek, Stupak, Bob Davis (from UP, later lived in Gaylord), and Phil Ruppe were all Yoopers. The last “transplant” to win was Raymond Clevenger from Chicago who was a lawyer practicing in the Soo. That was in the Goldwater landslide of 1964 and lasted one term.  MI-01 is interesting this year because there’s a Minnesota transplant with a Scandinavian sounding last name (Bergman) running against a downriver carpetbagger who moved to Kalkaska.  The military background helps Bergman, but it’s a different political culture there.

I’m not super familiar with the UP on a first hand level outside of knowing several Yoopers who moved downstate. I have been to three counties there on multiple occasions, which is the I-75 area closer tied to downstate Michigan. That area has been traditionally more friendly to Republicans than the rest of the UP, although that has evened out to some extent. Dems are able/have been able to win anywhere here with the right candidate (Stupak), but they have a tougher time with “National democrats” going back to 2000 than they do with state democrats. 2010 was a big swing against the D’s here, although Snyder struggled in some of the state worker based areas here. The area is pro-gun, pro-life, populist, and pro-union. Tom Casperson is more moderate than many would like, but he is a good fit for the UP.  Some will say that it is “Trumpy.” Trump’s issue stances will fit here. Trump’s behavior and character flaws here will be viewed with a lot of disdain, as will Hillary’s. Culturally, it’s conservative and somewhat “polite” ornery. They are very pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment, and distrustful of your stererotypical big city rich guy. They are not anti-government, but anti-intrusive government. They expect their representatives to remember where they came from, do their jobs, keep in contract with them, and to not go national and forget where they come from. They are independent minded and expect their reps to be representative of them. Bart Stupak was a master of UP politics, and probably learned from the legends of Joe Mack (Ironwood) and Dominic Jacobetti (Negaunee) which are two yellow dog areas to this day.  Some compare the UP to West Virginia, probably due to the mining tradition and hills (compared to the rest of MI). Superficially, I can see that to some extent until recently, although the ethnic traditions and what is mined (copper vs coal) are much different. The coal issue these days changed the dynamics. The copper jobs are dead due to little remaining copper more than a war on coal.

When you cross the bridge on I-75, you start in Mackinac County. The main city here is St Ignace, which is one of the main ferry locations to Mackinac Island. I’ve always liked St Ignace and think it’s an underrated town. The county also has Mackinac Island, one of Michigan’s most famous tourist attracts with almost no cars. The main industry is tourism based around Mackinac Island. There’s also a casino and a Chippewa reservation. Mackinac County has a couple of subtle trends, but is overall consistent. Snyder struggled to get slightly under 54%, Romney slightly under 56%. Bush and Cox broke 56%, and Johnson got 58%.

St Ignace (City) has turned against us a little, and I suspect it’s due to an increase in the American Indian percentage of the population. Romney lost the city. St Ignace Twp has always been tough and around 51%D. Johnson and Cox won the twp.  Bush and Cox won the city with 54%. Johnson was held to 50%. It went 51% D for Romney and Snyder. Hendricks Twp went D against Mike Cox, but is now 65% R territory. Clark Twp and Marquette Twp are very strong R outside of Snyder (Corrections workers), Garfield and Hudson Twps are 60%+ R territory now. Clark is most significant, as it’s the most populated of the group, followed by Garfield Twp.

It’s hard to peg how democrat the American Indian (Chippewa and lesser extent Ottawa) vote is here. While I believe the Chippewa areas are fairly democrat based on some results in St Ignace and in neighboring Chippewa County (Bay Mills especially), it doesn’t seem to be to the same degree as the Sioux in South Dakota or Menominee in Wisconsin, unless there are Dutch Reform level of voting among the whites here, which I don’t see. This could be due to long integration as there tends to be a higher multi-racial population there as well.  Many whites live on reservation areas in Michigan and many American Indians don’t live on reservations. I never noticed any “Pine Ridge” situation here either, although that’s probably the extreme end of things. Bay Mills in Chippewa County is about 60% Chippewa and very strong D. Sault Ste Marie in Chippewa County is about 18% American Indian and 5.5% multiracial. St Ignace (city) in Mackinac County is 27% American Indian and  7.5% multiracial (but lately has been 51% D). The township is 27% American Indian as well and consistently around 51% D. St Ignance swings. St Ignace Twp swings/tilts D. The reservation covers parts of that area, but the Chippewa are also spread throughout the county. The most R precinct of Garfield Twp, which even McCain got 66% in was 17% Chippewa. Hudson Twp is 27% Chippewa and voted 60% for Romney and 59% for Bush. Those areas I believe are off reservation and away from the regional HQ’s (St Ignace or Bay Mills), which I think makes a huge difference in voting.

Trump got 61% in Mackinac County, doing quite well there. He won everywhere except Mackinac Island, which he lost by 5 votes. That’s not bad considering he was a bad fit for much of the Mackinac Island crowd. He got 51% in St Ignace (City) and 55% in the township. Trump got 82% in Hendrix Twp. Granted it was 80 votes total, but he got 66 of them. They all add up. Overall, this was an excellent showing by Trump in a normally lean R county.

Chippewa County is next door to the North/East of Mackinac County up I-75. It’s the home of Sault Ste Marie and the International Bridge, which is one of four border crossings (two in Detroit, one in Port Huron) in the state with Canada.  Most of the population of the Soo is on the Canadian side and I’m sure a lot of Yoopers work there as well. Tourism, Lake Superior State, The Soo Locks, and Casino are major industries there. Outside of the Soo, there’s the Bay Mills Chippewa Reservation, Whitefish Point (Great Lakes Shipwreck museum) on Lake Superior, and I can’t forget Tahquanameon Falls which is a great place to take a lady.  Most of the county is Republican, although Sault Ste Marie is swingish, going against us in 2012 and 2014. Snyder got 50% in the county, Romney 53%, Johnson 55%, Bush 55%, and Cox 54%. Sault Ste Marie  went the same direction at St Ignance. The prison closure didn’t help (federally). Lake Superior State may be an impact as well although it is a smaller college. Low populated Hulbert Twp went for Peters over Cox, but R the rest of the way.  Detour Township was D for Peters and Kerry, but moved our way since. I mentioned Bay Mills previously when describing the Chippewa population. It went D every time, although Cox almost won it getting 47% of the vote. The other major D townships however in Chippewa County is Raber Twp which is 90% White and Sugar Island which is partly another part of the Bay Mills reservation and the rest of an island in the St Mary’s River. Bush got 45%, Johnson 42%, Romney 38%, and Snyder 43% in Bay Mills. Johnson won Sugar Island Twp with 48%. The rest ranged from 42% (Snyder), 43% (Romney), 44% (Cox), and 48% (Bush). Raber Twp went D for everyone, ranging from 40% (Snyder), 43% (Cox), 44% (Bush), 46% (Johnson), and 47% (Romney). That 40% Snyder vote tells me Raber is state worker territory.  This is an important area, and R’s need to get better numbers in Sault Ste Marie to win statewide and keep the 1st District.

Trump got 59% in Chippewa County. He won everywhere except Bay Mills Twp, where he got 39%, slightly better than Romney. The Soo itself went 50% for Trump, which says a lot with Lake Superior State being there. Raber and Sugar Island Twps flipped, with both going 58% for Trump. There’s been a lot of talk on RRH about Trump’s (potential) improvements with the American Indian vote. I’m not sure how much improvement there is. Clinton did worse than Obama with them, but evidence shows both ways. Trump had only a slight improvement over Romney in Bay Mills Twp. He did however do better everywhere else. The evidence in the Soo and St Ignace says there was an improvement. The evidence on Sugar Island Twp says there was an improvement. The evidence in Bay Mills says maybe not as much as much as improvement with rural whites. I don’t know the answer.

West of the Soo is Luce County. Luce County is home to part of Tahquanamenon Falls State Park and the town of Newberry. Newberry is part of McMillin Twp. I’m not sure if the prison is still there, but that’s the main industry in Newberry outside of a tourist stop on the way to Tahquanamenon.  It’s one of the least populated areas of Michigan. Newberry is the furthest west I have been in the UP so my firsthand knowledge of areas after this are strictly maps, stats, and people I know from those areas.  R’s took this area across the board, although there’s population decrease areas here. Snyder got 55%, Romney 61%, Johnson 61%, Bush 62%, and Cox 54%. With the Corrections workers’ dynamic, this county is better for R’s in presidential years, than gubernatorial years.

Luce County was 68% for Trump, and all municipalities were at least 65%. If you haven’t been there yet, take your lady and pay a visit to Tahquanamenon Falls.

Past Luce County and especially Newberry, you get far away from any downstate influences. The Eastern UP is a bit of a political transition zone mixed with Yooper and Troll influences alike. Away from I-75, it’s more like the state of “Superior.” There’s no expressways in these parts.

West of Luce County and Mackinac Counties is Schoolcraft County and Manistique.  It’s a swing area that’s historically very democrat. I don’t know much about it, but I believe there’s paper industry there.  Snyder won it with 52%. Romney and Johnson got 53%. Bush got 51% Cox got 44%. Cox only won Germfask Twp.  Bush tied in Doyle Twp and lost Inwood Twp, Manistique, and Mueller Twp all fairly narrowly (dems didn’t break 53% anywhere).  Romney lost Doyle Twp by 3 and Manistique narrowly. Snyder only lost Manistique. Johnson didn’t lose anywhere.

Trump got 61.58% in Schoolcraft County. He got at least 57% everywhere. Trump got 64% in Obama voting Doyle Twp and 57% in Obama voting Manistique. This was a solid D county for POTUS as recently as 1996.

NW of Schoolcraft County and west of Luce County is Alger County. It usually competes with Iron County to be the 3rd or 4th most democrat county in the UP. It’s centered around Munising. There’s a prison here as well, but it’s most famous for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior. This is the only county in the state that Bush won in 2000 but later lost in 2004. I think the D’s are more stubborn here due to Marquette next door being close enough to be a bedroom community. Outside of Munising itself the further west is the more D.  Romney’s win by 118 here was a surprise. He almost equalled Bush’s raw vote totals, which isn’t bad with the population drop.  Schauer won it by 126. Kerry won it by 77 votes.  Johnson won in a “landslide” of 227. Peters beat Cox here by 331. Nobody got over 50 1/2% outside of Peters, who got 54% Cox lost everywhere except Grand Island (which Johnson, Romney, and Snyder lost) and Munising Township. Grand Island has  only 47 people. Munising Township ranged from 50% (Cox/Snyder) to 56% ( Bush and Romney). Bush only won Au Train Twp (was D, now leans R), Grand Island, and Munising Twp. Burt Twp (Pictured Rocks area) dramatically shifted. Romney and Snyder got 59% there after Bush lost it. Munising (city) went for Johnson, but D every other time. It’s consistently 54-57%D. Limestone went for every D except for Romney’s race. Romney got 55% there.  Mathias Twp and Rock River Twp went D every time.  I expect this to be a close area in the future. Hopefully R’s can get a good farm team here and help move this further in the right direction.

Romney’s win was impressive here, but Trump’s 57% here was bigtime. Trump lost Grand Island, but there was only 26 voters. Trump lost Mathias Twp by 3. Obama got 58% there (which was low). That’s historically 60%+ D territory although getting better. There’s no shame there. Rock River Twp was a big flip to Trump. He won it with 50%. Munising was 51% for Trump which was a big win. I won’t call this a Republican county yet, but it is at least a Trump Democrat county. Trump won everywhere besides Mathias Twp and Grand Island.

West of there is Marquette County, the largest county and the most democrat county in the UP. I put the City of Marquette itself in the “academia” portion due to Northern Michigan University, but the county is still very democrat without Marquette itself. Ishpeming is a historical mining town that lost about half of its population from its peak. The union tradition is still strong there. Negaunee next door is a similar history to Ishpeming. It’s also a mining area. There’s very little mining left.  Without the city, Marquette County still goes democrat every time here although Johnson almost wins the county without the city. Bush did a bit better than the others outside of Johnson who caught a wave year. Notably, Bush paid a visit to Marquette in the 2004 campaign. It was a real big deal to the UP, which often feels ignored. Cox got slightly less than 40%. Snyder got 42% Romney got 44%. Bush and Johnson got 47%. That visit helped him, especially as the UP was more dem in 2004 than it is today.

Ishpeming and Negaunee (home of former State House Pork King Dominic Jacobetti) are 60% D towns.  Richmond Twp may be the most democrat 95%+ white area not centered by a university in the entire country outside of the Berkshires. Snyder got 18% there. Romney didn’t do much better with 25%. Bush did better with 29%. It’s centered on an unincorporated community of Palmer south of Negaunee. It’s an old mining area, but that’s all I know. The whole mining area West of Marquette is all D to the county line, much of it high 50%+ range. South of Marquette closer to the (now closed) military base is a big more R friendly, although nothing is safe. This is tough territory, and will continue to be tough territory. R’s really need to get to 45% here (not counting the city) to be in good shape.

This is still a D county. Trump did win the portion outside of the City however with 48%. He got 44% with the city included. Trump flipped a lot of the county and improved in other areas. He got 43% in Ishpeming and actually won Ishpeming Twp. He got 41% in Negaunee and actually won Negaunee Twp. Romney got 36% and 39% in those cities, and lost the townships. He got 40% in Richmond Twp and held Hillary to 55%. Romney got 25% in Richmond Twp. Areas Trump won that Romney did not win are Chocolay Twp (albeit he did worse than Romney there, Clinton just did that much worse), Ely Twp (52%), Forsyth Twp (55%), Humboldt Twp (58%), Ishpeming Twp (48%), Michigamme Twp (58%), Negaunee Twp (48%), Powell Twp (49%), Republic Twp (50%), Tilden Twp (52%), and Turin Twp (48%). In some of these areas, Romney had only 40%. Trump did his job here, and then some.

 

South of Marquette is a three county area that is closely tied with Wisconsin. Delta, Dickinson, and Menominee Counties.  It is the most “must win” part of the UP. Delta County the first county south/SE of Marquette on the Lake Michigan NW Shore. There’s a strong D history here, but now it’s a swing county. Snyder won it. If Snyder won it, there’s no excuse not to win it. There was in 2002 (Cox), but not today. Snyder, Romney, and Johnson got 53%. Bush got 50% when the county was transitioning. Cox got 47% and lost it back when it was still D leaning. Most of this area goes narrow R or narrow D. Mike Cox only won a handful of areas. Bark River Twp west of Escanaba is 60% territory for everybody and an outlier.  The 55%D areas against Cox were Fairbanks Twp, Gladstone, Garden Twp, and Nahma Twp. Bush didn’t win those, but cut them down to the low 50%. Johnson won everywhere except Fairbanks and Garden Twps. Romney won all of those twps (and Gladstone). He also won everywhere except Escanaba which he lost by 23 votes.  This isn’t easy territory, but winnable.  Tom Casperson is from this county. He is a state senator who won in 2002 upsetting Laurie Stupak for a state rep seat, and winning a strongly D seat for State Senate (The UP without the Eastern Counties) in 2010. He would likely have made MI-01 a safe district if he was the nominee.

Trump got 60.14% in Delta County, winning it by 8000. Romney winning everywhere except Escanaba was a good sign for Trump. He won everywhere including Escanaba (54%). That was his “worst” area in a county where most candidates don’t get blown out.

South/SW of there is Menominee County. Menominee County is actually on Green Bay and borders Wisconsin on three sides (one over water of Green Bay).  It’s a swing area and the home of former Congressman Bart Stupak. Menominee has one of the longest high school rivalries in the country with Marinette Wisconsin, the neighboring city to the South.  It’s a swing county that leaned R. Most of the county has moved towards the R’s, but Menominee itself has moved towards the D’s. It’s traditionally more R than some of the other UP Counties. Cox even won it. Snyder had 56%, Johnson 55%, Bush 52%,  Romney 51%,  and Cox won it with slightly under 50% This is one of the few UP Counties (with Dickinson and Houghton) west of Luce County that did not vote for Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Snyder and Johnson swept the county. Romney won everywhere but Menominee (City and Township). Romney bombed in the city with 44 (Obama got 55%). I’m not sure why, although I wonder if it was Wisconsin media overlap. Bush didn’t sweep the county, but did take Menominee Twp and got 46% in the city and held Kerry to under 53%). He also narrowly lost Harris Twp which is home to the Hannahville Indian Community (Potawatomie) and is 25% American Indian. He narrowly lost Meyer Twp as well which is 99% white. Cox won everywhere but Menominee, but didn’t do as well in the townships. It’ll be interesting to see if Menominee itself goes further D, while the townships move towards the R’s.

Trump and Ron Johnson’s win in Wisconsin was a good sign for this county as well. Trump got 62.21% here, winning everywhere. He got 53% in Menominee City and 60% in the township. He got 63% in Cedarville and 65% or better everywhere else, including 70%+ in seven municipalities, and even 80% in Holmes Twp. (145 to 31).

NW of there is Dickinson County. It’s the home of Norway, Kingsford (original home of Kingsford Charcoal), and Iron Mountain. Iron Mountain is the home of Coaches Tom Izzo and Steve Mariucci. It tends to be a bit more GOP leaning than the rest of the Central/Western UP, although any UP county I consider winnable for dems depending on the circumstances. This was once mining territory as well. I’m not sure why this is more GOP than the rest of the central UP. Looking at bordering Wisconsin, Florence County is 60%R for Romney, and seems to be a bit of an outlier for Northern Wisconsin as well. Snyder got 59%, Romney 60%, Johnson 60%, Bush 57%, and Cox 50%. This is becoming more and more towards a base county for the GOP.

The only area any dems won was Norway (Snyder, Bush, Cox lost it), Norway Twp (Cox lost it), and Waucedah Twp (Cox lost it) and little populated West Branch Twp in the NE corner towards Marquette (Cox, Bush, Johnson, lost it). Norway is moving to the right. Cox got 37% there, Bush 48%, and Romney 51%. Norway Twp is now 57% territory. Waucedah Twp (just east of Norway) sometimes goes 60%R now.

Dickinson County was 65.17% for Trump and a clean sweep. West Branch Twp and Norway were the “worst” areas going 58%+ for Trump. The rest was all 62%+ for him.

West of there is Iron County, which used to be the 3rd/4th (Competing with Alger) most democrat county in the UP. It voted for Gore in 2000. It even voted for Walter Mondale along with its western neighbor Gogebic (Still D) and Keweenaw County (usually GOP the past 16 years). It’s now swingish as well. Dan Benishek is from here. This was a mining area as well. Crystal Falls and Iron River are the major towns. Snyder got 54% as did Romney. Johnson got 52%. Bush won the county with 49.52% with the same number of votes as Romney (3224). This area is dropping population. Cox got 42% here losing the county by double digits percentage. Cox only won Bates Twp and Iron River Twp, both next to each other north of Iron River. Bush won Mansfield and Stambaugh townships as well south of Iron River. He almost took Iron River. Caspian and Crystal Falls (City) went dem every time. Gaastra went for all dems except it went for Romney. Hemitite for all dems except it went for Johnson. Gaastra and Caspian are next to Iron River, so I don’t know why there’s a 10% discrepancy between those areas. Overall though, as Iron River moved, so did the county. It’s about 1% to the right of the county most of the time. Bush almost won it and barely won the county. Cox got 43% and lost the county. Romney, Johnson, and Snyder won it without major problems.  When every vote counts, so does this county.

Trump got 62.18% in this “swing” county. This was a clean sweep. Even Caspian and Crystal Falls flipped, both with 53% for Trump (Even Bush had less than 40% in Caspian). D leaning Gaastra went 67% for Trump. D leaning Hemitite Twp went 59% for Trump. Iron River drives most of the county votes and went 66% for Trump. All these small wins added up.

North of there is Baraga County. It’s erractic politically leaning more D in state years, and more friendly to R’s in presidential years. It’s the home of a prison and also the home of the Keewenaw Bay Indian Community (Lake Superior Chippewa). This is the home of the Huron Mountains. Mt Arvon is the highest point in Michigan at 1978ft.  Much of the mountains area is part of an exclusive Huron Mountain Club formed as a remote hunting and fishing club. Even Henry Ford was put on a waiting list. There’s a major state worker dynamic here in its voting. Snyder lost it getting 47%. Romney won it with 53%. Johnson won it with 54%. Bush won it with 54%. Cox lost it getting 47%. Lightly populated Spurr Twp went dem every time. Arvon Twp went R for all except Cox and is now 60% territory. The rest tend to rise and fall depending on state/federal elections. A lot of correction workers seem to be federal R’s and state D’s.

Baraga County was interesting. Trump won it with 62% and won all municipalities. Trump won Spurr Township despite getting 44% there. Romney got 40% and Bush got 47% losing it. Jill Stein got 15% in Spurr Twp, so Trump’s “44%” win might be the lowest win for an R outside of Utah or New Mexico. The other areas were 59% or better for Trump, with 68% in Arvon Twp. 

West of there is Houghton County on part of the Keewenaw Penninsula. It leans GOP. Houghton itself was placed in the in academia due to being the base of Michigan Tech University although I struggled with that decision. It leans dem and has college leaning demographics,  but it is not as much dem as most universities. Houghton County has 36,000 people, but once had 88,000 people when the mining was at its peak. Michigan Tech was formed originally as a mining college. Hancock is the town across from Houghton and it is known as the “focal point of Finns” in the US.  The small Finlandia University is in Hancock. It’s a Lutheran College formed partially to preserve Finnish heritage. One of the most famous towns in the UP here is Calumet. It’s knows as “Copper City, USA”.  Calumet Township has 6000 people, but once had 33,000 people. Calumet and Larium were the centers of the area’s mining. George Gipp, the real life Gipper, was from Larium. It’s now known more for tourism. Houghton is the gateway to the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Taking out the small city of Houghton, Snyder and Romney got 55%, Johnson 57%, Bush 58%, and Cox 52%. Adams Twp, southwest of Houghton was the only consistent D area (all except Johnson lost it). Hancock is a swing city, but Bush got 55% there. Romney and Cox lost it narrowly. Snyder and Johnson won it narrowly. Elm River and Laird Twps were won by all except Cox, which shows some of the same UP trends.  In order to win the 110th State Rep District, R’s need to do very well in Houghton to offset the still democrat Gogebic County.

Houghton County went 57% for Trump not including the city of Houghton (which was included in academia section). With the city, Trump got 53.77%. Trump flipped Adams Twp, getting 51% there. He lost Hancock by 21 votes. He won the rest of the county easily. The City (and Hancock) are the areas to watch for the future.

North of there is Keewenaw County, the smallest county in Michigan by population at 2100 people, but the largest by area if you include water. It’s the home of the Northernmost points in Michigan, Isle Royale National Park (an island in Lake Superior), and Copper Harbor. Despite voting for Mondale, it now leans Republican in federal elections, and is competitive downticket.  Copper Harbor these days is mostly for tourists and ferrys to Isle Royale. Isle Royale is a very rustic park.  Snyder won it with 57%, Romney 56%, Johnson 59%, Bush 54%, and Cox 51%. Cox was the only one to lose any townships, losing highest populated Allouex Twp by 19 and Sherman Twp by 1.

Trump got 56.76% in Keewenaw County. Trump did lose Grant Twp by 6 votes, although he made up for it by getting 60%+Allouez Twp, the largest municipality in the county.

West of Houghton County is Ontonagon County. It’s the home of the Porcupine Mountains and used to be a copper area. It’s swingish, going more D in state races and R in national races. Snyder won it with 51%, Romney 54%, Johnson 52%, Bush 54%, and Cox 46%. Interior Twp is D.

Trump got 60.30% here. Interior Twp flipped to the R’s, although Bohemia Twp flipped back to the D’s by 3 votes. The rest of the county was solid for Trump. Bergland Twp really went big for Trump going 68%.

The furthest western county in the UP is Gogebic County. Good luck pronouncing that. In the SE portion of the county is the small Lac Vieux Desert Indian Reservation (Chippewa) which is  in Watersmeet Twp. The high school nickname for Watersmeet is the “Nimrods”. The three incorporated cities are Beseemer (County seat), Wakefield, and Ironwood. Ironwood is the largest city and is on the Wisconsin border. Beseemer is a ski area today, but was originally iron mining town. Wakefield is a logging town after the mines closed. Ironwood is a ski area today as well and used to be a mining town. It borders Hurley and Iron County Wisconsin. Ironwood is about 100 miles from Duluth and Superior Wisconsin.

Gogebic County is historically strongly “pork barrell” democrat as the home of Joe Mack. He was the Robert Byrd of the Michigan State Senate.  It’s not as democrat as it was, but unlike much of the rest of the UP, this is still yellow dog territory and the 2nd most D county in the UP behind Marquette.  Snyder got 46%, Romney 45%, Johnson46%, Bush 47%, and Cox 39% losing by 18% to Peters.

Surprisingly Watersmeet with its higher Chippewa population, is a Republican township.  McCain won it. The three villages (Ironwood, Wakefield, and Beseemer) are right near each other and are solid D. Basically anything west of Gogebic Lake is strong yellow dog. The villages, and the townships around them are usually 55-60% or more D, although the townships are getting better for us. I don’t know why this area has hung on to its D tradition more than the surrounding areas, but I suspect there could be some Duluth/Superior influence here. Most media market maps have Gogebic in the Duluth media market.  Looking at Northern Wisconsin, Iron County WI went narrowly for Romney (49%) in 2012, but Ashland (64%), Bayfield (61%), and Douglas (65%) all down US-2 are even more D than Gogebic County. I’m wondering if that accounts for Gogebic voting more with its “Iron Range” cousins instead of “copper country”.  For the most part, the dems won across the board except for Marenisco and Watersmeet Twps. Erwin Twp does swing, and Ironwood/Beseemer Townships (not cities) are competitive.  Snyder and Johnson won Ironwood and Beseemer Townships. Bush also won Ironwood Township. That’s a good starting point for more inroads here. The D’s took Beseemer Twp with 60% against Cox.

Trump was the first POTUS Republican to win Gogebic County since 1972 getting 54.82%. Even Ronald Reagan couldn’t win Gogebic County. Trump also won all municipalities here. He got 50% in Beseemer, almost 50% in Ironwood, and 55% in Wakefield – the cities. He won the townships as well, getting 55% in all of them, and 62%+ in Beseemer and Wakefield Twps. The base areas of Watersmeet and Marenisco were base areas for Trump as well. As a result, he won the county – and the state.

Conclusion – all parts

Some of those who have read the entire 25 part report and see Snyder’s results may think you have to run as a “John Weaver” moderate to win Michigan. Even though Weaver was involved in the Snyder campaign, that’s not how Snyder really ran or what he claims to be. He’s not really a “moderate” and he’s not a “conservative.” He never claimed to be either of those things. Snyder ran as a problem solver.  Period. “I’m a businessman not a politician.” It was a Donald Trump line without the “Trump” baggage. I don’t always agree with Snyder’s methods or his policies, but his messaging was extremely smart when it actually got out there  and it took me awhile to get what he was doing on the campaign trail.  John McCain got smoked. Mitt Romney got smoked.  One was a moderate and the other was a moderate who ran as a conservative. The other winners are Bill Schuette, Ruth Johnson, and Mike Cox. They all ran as conservatives, but also as conservatives who got things done. Terri Land ran as a problem solver (for Secretary of State) but is a conservative – and both won (as SOS) and lost (as senate). I consider George W Bush a moderate, but he ran as a “compassionate conservative.”  He lost twice here although I question 2004 numbers in some areas.

Ruth Johnson and Mike Cox ran as conservatives, but had their niches as well. Ruth made her name on election fraud issues. Mike Cox was a homicide assistant prosecutor in Wayne County. The two of them ran on their big strengths first. Cox also had a lot of support from 2nd Amendment communities. That helped him heavily in his 2006 re-election and in some tough areas in 2002, but he ran on being a “prosecutor” first.

I’ve come around to respect the Snyder blueprint however. Snyder ran first and foremost on competence issues with laser focus on the economy. He ran almost as a business populist (if that makes sense) who hates politics. It’s not really “right or left”.  He never said he was a conservative and he isn’t. He never said he was a moderate or liberal either and  I really wouldn’t put him in that category either. He’s a technocrat, and that’s not meant as a positive or negative thing. There’s a lot to be learned from that.  The other thing that helped Snyder is that while he was a businessman, he ran as a CEO of Gateway. People remember Gateway Computers. That’s a difference with your venture capitalist types who are widely distrusted (with Dan Gilbert a major exception due to his Detroit investments and building). The Midwest respects builders. You’ll hear a different opinion of George Romney than Mitt. Builders built America and builders built Michigan. This is the land of Henry Ford, Roger Penske, Ransom Olds, Mike Illitch, Louis Chevrolet, Pete Karmanos, Fred Meijer, Tom Monaghan, and the Dodge brothers. It’s the cornerstone of this state and one of the rare things that can take root in the very different political factions in this state that are extremely tough to unite. It’s something our pols should remember in 2020 before either putting a bunch of money here, or before writing off altogether. The most important thing here is the job itself and the ability to do it.

Trump in some ways was a more populist Snyder in his speeches. He didn’t run on being “the conservative” or “the moderate” but on “winning” and “Making America Great Again.” Ideology, there was not a ton given, although he did say he would appoint conservative judges. Important to Michigan, are these trade deals. Outside of college economics theory, these trade deals are very unpopular in this state. Good paying jobs are the number one issue in Michigan and always has been. It always will be here as well. This is an underdog state that cares about the little guy. That’s not to be confused with liberalism. The other thing important here is that Trump never gave up on winning this state. It usually tightens up late in most elections. That helped get the last minute push for Trump which was needed to win. This was a different path for Trump in some ways, but showed another way to do it – without winning Oakland County, and without a majority in Kent County. The challenge is finding the other votes. They can be found sometimes in unexpected places. The lesson? Work hard. Don’t assume. Don’t write people off. Don’t quit.

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15 Comments

  • twinpines October 15, 2016 at 1:00 am

    As one who has extensive ties to the UP and has been to all but one county in the UP, I thought I would add a few comments.

    1. One important aspect when looking at politics in this region is distinguishing between the copper mining and the iron mining areas. The copper mining areas are far more conservative then the iron mining communities in general.
    2. I wanted to point out that Dickinson County is rather conservative due to its large evangelical population. It is probably one of the most evangelical areas of Michigan outside of Dutch Reformed country though most groups in the area are Lutheran groups tied to Wisconsin’s evangelical groups. This is why the county is probably the most conservative if not close to the most conservative county in the UP despite its heavy iron mining past.
    3. In terms of Iron County. Wealth seems to play a big part. Caspian and Gaastra are much poorer then Iron River. Also within Iron River, the southern part of the town was a separate town that merged with Iron River back around year 2000. This southern area used to be known as the town of Stambaugh and votes more like Caspian and Gaastra while the original portion of Iron River is wealthier by Iron County standards and was where the managers/business class lived back in the area’s hayday. Nowadays the townships of Bates, Iron River, and Stambaugh have become popular retirement areas for people from Chicagoland and S. Wiscosnin pushing these areas to the right politically. Scott Dianda is from the copper country area of Calumet, one of the most republican towns in the western peninsula and will be tough to dislodge but he is up for retirement in 2018.
    4. In terms of Marquette, this is the one area that will probably never move our way much in the future as they seem to attract a lot of the lefty artsy types. One evidence of this is that back in 2004 with the marriage amendment vote which passed in a landslide, the city of Marquette actually voted against it with about a 54% – 46% vote against the amendment. Marquette reminds me of Boulder, Colorado. Very beautiful town overlooking the lake with a growing green party type population. One of my favorite places to visit, but culturally probably the only place I couldn’t live in the UP.
    5. All in all, the UP is a great place to live and play. Especially the central and western portions which are more mountainous and provide great overlooks of Lake Superior. I am in the process of moving back and would love to chat with anyone who might be interested in more space to play.


    MI SD-38, Conservative Independent, not associated with either party.

    • Republican Michigander October 15, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      I didn’t know there was that much difference between Copper and Iron regions but it makes sense. Gogebic County and Ishpeming/Negaunee vs Houghton County. I didn’t know there was that much difference between the towns in Iron County either. The evangelical population would explain Dickinson County compared to its neighbors (Iron or even Delta/Menominee Counties)

      With NMU there, I don’t see Marquette going our way for a long time. Is Ishpeming or Negaunee going to be following Marquette or following the other mining areas and at least get knocked down to the low 50s for D’s. Sometimes cultural leftism causes backlash in nearby areas.


      MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

      • twinpines October 15, 2016 at 5:06 pm

        It seems from my analysis of voting results that the iron mining areas area trending our way, just taking a little longer to do so then the copper areas. Long term, I think republicans will be able to sweep the entire UP outside of the town of Marquette and the reservations. Even Houghton is relatively conservative for a college town.


        MI SD-38, Conservative Independent, not associated with either party.

  • twinpines October 15, 2016 at 1:20 am

    The UP while, not huge fans of Trumps style, are very much attracted to his message of preserving social security and medicare. I expect the 1st district to be Trump’s best district in the state. The polls I have seen so far show that he is really out-performing in this part of Michigan though they were done before the tapes came out. Not sure how that will affect things but Trump did better in the 1st district then in any other district during the primary. Everyone up here is talking about Trump it seems.


    MI SD-38, Conservative Independent, not associated with either party.

  • BostonPatriot October 19, 2016 at 12:51 am

    I know it’s harder to find diaries on the new site layout but I really hope this series doesn’t go unnoticed. This was a fantastic read on a state that I previously had only a moderate understanding of (despite seemingly every girlfriend I’ve ever had being a Michigan native). I really appreciated the deep dives into towns, cities, and counties, and I think your conclusion on the nature of Michigan and what messaging succeeds there is spot on. Thanks so much for all your work.

    • Republican Michigander October 19, 2016 at 2:07 am

      Thanks. I got the idea from the Massachusetts project and would like to see one for all 50 states at some point.
      Despite being a native I learned a lot from the project and gained a new respect for Snyder as a messenger. Policy wise, he drives me up the wall at times with taxes, but somehow he did well (or well enough) in areas that on paper that I would expect to see him run out of town. I would not expect him to win some of the Downriver suburbs or win Macomb County.

      I always wondered why a socially center-right state overall was so difficult to win and why there are still many yellow dog areas (white working class dems). In some ways it is simple (It’s the economy stupid), and some ways not so much with the number of factions that are close to opposites in some ways.

      If I had more than a moderate understanding of Ohio and Wisconsin, I’d start two diaries there since those two states would be good comparison although we have nothing like Columbus or the WOW Counties. Florida would be interesting as well since it is really a microcosm of the entire country.


      MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

      • californianintexas October 19, 2016 at 8:23 pm

        I’d love to do a California series, though it seems too big for just one person. I can write about the counties I knew growing up: San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange.


        34, Female, Libertarian, UT-02 (hometown CA-31), theelectionsgeek.com

  • StatenIslandTest October 22, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Great analysis and it helped me understand how the union presence which everyone perceives as the Detroit metro, really does impact the whole state even as much of it is transitioning to a nonunion economy.

    I still think the Upper Midwest is the GOPs best shot if we can be pragmatic and focus on middle class economics combined with support on social issues we win on (guns and in some places pro-life).

    Interesting about the western UP that has ties to Duluth. Does Duluth have an actual progressive population or is it strictly economics?


    32, Jersey City

    • Republican Michigander October 22, 2016 at 11:58 pm

      I’m speculating a bit on Ironwood and Superior/Duluth. It would probably only be Gogebic County if anything. OGGoldy can answer better than I could about Duluth and knows that part of the UP better than I do. I haven’t been west of Newberry. I know Duluth is the Iron Range, but also has a university (known for hockey).

      Ironwood is 100 miles from Duluth and Superior, WI (with basically only Ashland WI in between). Ironwood is 150 miles from Marquette, 220 miles from Green Bay, and 125 miles to Wausau (Wisconsin). Ironwood is also 600 miles to Detroit (further than from Detroit to Washington DC) to give an idea of its ties to downstate.

      Gogebic County does have more D traditions than the rest of the UP outside of Marquette. Part of that is Joe Mack in the State Senate for 26 years bringing home the bacon (as did Dominic Jacobetti in the house for 39 years from Negaunee). He was the Robert Byrd/Ted Stevens of Michigan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Mack_(Michigan_politician)


      MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

      • twinpines October 23, 2016 at 3:11 am

        Having grown up in rural Minnesota I can tell you that most of the support in the Iron Range is more economics as is the case in Gogebic County. Duluth itself however has a more progressive bent much like Marquette. I mentioned earlier that Marquette reminds me of Boulder but really a better example would be just a smaller Duluth. Most of this region is trending towards us outside of Duluth and Marquette which will probably never switch. As OGGoldy has alluded to in the past, there is a lot of animosity between twin city dems and the iron range dems which should help us.


        MI SD-38, Conservative Independent, not associated with either party.

        • Greyhound October 23, 2016 at 3:56 am

          Yeah, Duluth is pretty standard Progressive. The weird parts of the Iron Range are the mining areas closer to the middle of St. Louis County, which still vote like 65-70% D unlike basically every other part of the rural Midwest.

          I used to joke that there are only “3M’s” of rural Democrats left–Moonbats, Minorities, and Minnesotans.


          R, 27, CA-18. Anti-Anti-Trump

  • twinpines October 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Michigan is a fun state to study politically. Probably my favorite to study though I do enjoy others to such as WA, AZ, NC, VA, and ND.


    MI SD-38, Conservative Independent, not associated with either party.

    • californianintexas October 24, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      California is one of those states whose political past is more interesting than the present. I am enjoying studying past election results.


      34, Female, Libertarian, UT-02 (hometown CA-31), theelectionsgeek.com

  • Republican Michigander March 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Part 25 – The UP outside of academia
    Trump – 78126 – 58.29%
    Clinton – 48429 – 36.13%
    134032 votes

    Romney –69539 – 52.08%
    Obama – 62327 – 46.68%
    133527 votes

    Bush – 73817 –52.29%
    Kerry – 65728 – 46.56%
    141166 votes


    MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

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