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56 Years of Michigan Presidential Politics

I had a long series about the Path to Win (or Lose) today’s Michigan. This is more about the past and how it got here. Originally, I was going to write a PVI by county in Michigan like we’ve seen in other states, but I decided to go this route instead. I’m not a huge PVI believer, and I didn’t want to co-opt someone else’s project if it was being planned. My work has always been more about vote spread or percentages. I feel combining both of those gives the best picture of what goes on in a state.

Michigan has fluctuated politically over the years, but has generally been for the most part a competitive state outside of US Senate (for various reasons ranging from timing to a failure to adequately contest the seats). I only concentrated on Presidential results here for time reasons, but the state’s results have been as follows at the top of the ticket.

1960-D, 1962-D (Swainson),1964-D,1966-R (Romney), 1968-D, 1970-RINO (Milliken),1972-R, 1974-RINO, 1976-R, 1978-RINO, 1980-R, 1982-D (Blanchard) ,1984-R, 1986-D, 1988-R, 1990-R (Engler), 1992-D, 1994-R, 1996-D, 1998-R, 2000-D, 2002-D (Granholm), 2004-D, 2006-D, 2008-D, 2010-R (Snyder), 2012-D, 2014-R, 2016-R.

I think the term RINO is overused, but Milliken was (rightfully IMO) kicked out of the Grand Traverse County GOP for his democrat endorsements over the years.

  • US Senate Seat 1 since 1960 – Patrick McNamara (D) elected in 54, died in office 1966, Bob Griffin (R)  (appointed by Romney and won full term in 1966, lost in 1978), Carl Levin (D) won in 78, retired with 2014 elections. Gary Peters (D) won open seat in 2014. Levin and Peters are the only two Senators in my lifetime, and I’m a year and a half away from turning 40.
  • US Senate Seat 2 since 1960 – Phillip Hart (D), elected in 1958 and retired in 1976. Don Riegle (D), elected in 1976, retired in 1994 after scandal. Spence Abraham (R), elected in 1994 wave, defeated in 2000. Debbie Stabenow (D), elected in 2000 and still in office. I’ve only had three Senators in my lifetime from this seat.
  • D’s took the congressional majority in MI from 1974 until 2002. R’s then held it until 2008, then took it back from the D’s in 2010 until today.
  • R’s held the State Senate since the 1984 recalls over the Blanchard tax increase. D’s nearly took it in 2006, but candidate quality saved us.
  • R’s took the State House in 1994, tied in 1996, took it in 1998 until 2006, then took it again in 2010 until today.

While competitive, there was a D leaning in the 1960’s largely due to only a few counties (The UP, Macomb, and a much larger Wayne County). It moved to the right significantly federally (Milliken however was a very liberal [not moderate] “Republican”) throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s with Detroit’s population loss and Macomb/Oakland county’s rightward shift in that period. In the 70’s and 80’s the state level leaned D while the federal level leaned R. After 1988, there was a significant leftward movement federally, although a rightward shift on the state level with the John Engler years.

Population shifts are telling. Detroit had 1.7 Million people in 1960. Wayne County had 2.67 Million people in 1960. Today, Detroit has under 700,000 and Wayne County is down to 1.8 Million. Oakland County had 700,000 in 1960 and has 1.2 Million now. Macomb had 400,000 in 1960 and has 870,000 now. Livingston had 38,000 in 1960 and has 187,000 now. Lapeer had 41,000 in 1960 and has 88,000 now. Washtenaw County has 172,000 then and 365,000 now.

The early 90’s recession and Bush tax increase did a number on this state causing a major move to the left (and Perot) on the federal level. A lot of union retirees/workers upnorth moved a lot of once solid R counties towards the left. Even Wexford County (one of the more GOP Counties in the state) voted for Clinton. In addition, while white flight moved Oakland toward the Republicans in the 80’s, black flight (and Southfield white flight to formerly GOP areas) moved it rapidly towards the democrats. Mike Dukakis won Southfield by 5000 votes. Barack Obama won Southfield by 35,000 votes. That city of less than 100000 votes moved the county 30,000 votes toward the D’s. However term limits and Engler’s reforms (and 2 weak D candidates) helped on the state level during this period.

The bleeding was stopped temporary in the early 2000’s, but there was a D lean then. The state moved more leftward federally again with the Obama years although Granholm’s era heavily damaged democrats quite a bit outstate and overall in state elections. North Michigan started to move back home after 25 years. Ask Trump if that’s a big deal.

There is still some ticket splitting, but less so in my state. Closer to home, my county has voted R more often than not going back to the Civil War D’s however have won in my county downticket in the 70’s, 80’s and even parts of the 90’s. Unadilla (to today), Putnam (up to 2000s), Conway, Green Oak (at least in 70’s), and even Brighton Twp have elected D’s probably in my lifetime.  Frank Kelley won countywide on multiple occasions, even outside of the 1986 Bill Lucas campaign that was a disaster worse than 1996, 2006, and 2008. Today, there’s only one D township official in my county in historically D Unadilla, and it is someone often unopposed who has been there 20 years. The D’s last had a county commissioner seat here in the early 90’s in a then D leaning part of the county.

Today Michigan has the most self-packing since the 1960 election. Gerrymandering gets the blame, but most of the “blame” goes to self-packing into 65%+D areas.


1960:Kennedy – 51%, Nixon 49%, won by 67,000 – JFK won the state despite winning only 13 counties and only winning four counties in lower Michigan. The UP was very D leaning in those days.

The only four counties JFK won in lower Michigan were:

  • Wayne – 66% – won by about 379,000 – Some things never change in Michigan politics, and that starts with the D’s dependency on Wayne County margins to win
  • Macomb – 63% – won by about 43,700 – This is when Macomb started really catching pundit’s attention as most suburbs were Republican in those days.
  • Bay – 52% – won by about 2100
  • Monroe – 51% – won by about 1077 – Monroe votes with Macomb a lot, but never gets the same hype.

Nixon’s best five county by raw vote differential will surprise some

  • Kent – 61% – won by about 34,000 (not a surprise)
  • Oakland – 54% – won by about 26,000 (not a surprise if you know traditional MI migration patterns)
  • Ingham – 63% – won by about 23,000 (surprised me)
  • Ottawa – 75% – won by about 22,000 (not a surprise)
  • Kalamazoo – 64% – won by about 18,500 (somewhat surprising)

By percentage, the counties are less surprising.

  • Missaukee – 80% – Rural Dutch County in North Michigan.
  • Osceola – 76% – Same area as Missaukee County, although not as Dutch
  • Ottawa – 75% – Usually the number 1 GOP county in the state.
  • Sanilac – 73% – The most GOP county in the thumb
  • Gratiot and Oscoda – 72% – Oscoda not a surprise. Gratiot’s always been a tough one for me to read.


In the 1960 census, a lot of today’s base R counties have much smaller populations. Livingston County for example had about 16,000 voters total. Detroit also had 1.6 million people at that time. Republicans had 394,000 votes in Wayne, over twice as many as their 2nd highest (Oakland, with 162,000).  Interestingly, Nixon was able to win areas Republicans never win anymore – Washtenaw, Genesee, and Muskegon Counties. Washtenaw being there surprised me a lot, but that shift to the D’s really started to show in 72, although ex-UM football player Gerald Ford bought some time there. The UP was strong for Kennedy, as it was for most democrats up until the 2000’s. Many of those counties are base counties today, but two of those are base D counties today.


1964 – LBJ – 67%, Goldwater 33%, won by 1.1 Million. – Goldwater only won three counties, Missaukee, Ottawa, and Sanilac – three of the counties you always see go GOP. This is also the last time my county went D for president. Michigan was like most of the rest of the country here. It was a massacre here and not much more needs to be said.


1968 – Humphrey 48%, Nixon 41%, Wallace 10%, won by 220,000

Humphrey only won 18 counties, 6 of which in Lower Michigan, but he won the state by a big margin. I’m not sure who Wallace hurt more with his 3rd party votes. Michigan isn’t a southern state, but there are a more white Southern transplants here (many settled downriver, Monroe County, the City of Detroit, Hazel Park, Burton, and in Ypsilanti) than people think with the auto industry jobs. A lot of Northern anti school busing folks also voted for Wallace.  Humphrey’s best five counties by differential are:

  • Wayne – 63% – won by about 384,000
  • Macomb – 55% – won by about 51,500
  • Genesee – 46% – won by about 11,200 – This was when the Flint area really started to move more D.
  • Monroe – 48% – won by about 3,200
  • Bay – 50% – won by about 2,600
  • The other D lower Michigan county was Lake County


Nixon’s best five by differential are:

  • Kent – 54% – won by about 24,000
  • Ottawa – 68% – won by about 21,000
  • Kalamazoo – 54% – won by about 13,400
  • Berrien – 51% – won by about 11,000
  • Jackson – 54% – won by about 9600


By percentage:

  • Ottawa, Missaukee – 68%
  • Sanilac – 66%
  • Huron – 65% – I’m still shocked Bill Clinton won Huron County
  • Osceola – 64%

Interestingly, Oakland County was about 45/45 at that time, barely won by Nixon.

1972 – Nixon 56%, McGovern 42%, won by about 500,000

Nixon won all but four counties. Wayne (Detroit), Washtenaw (Ann Arbor), Lake (Baldwin), and Delta (Escanaba area). Delta County until the 2000s had a very strong democrat tradition. Lake County has a strong D tradition as well, although Trump won it. Wayne County is Wayne County and always has been. This is where Washtenaw (and other college towns) really started making their left wing turns. Ford’s football ties help hold it off some with Washtenaw for awhile, but it voted for McGovern. McGovern’s four are:

  • Wayne – 53% – won by about 79,000 – If Wayne doesn’t go 275k+ for D’s it’s over before it is started.
  • Washtenaw – 52%, won by about 4800 – Washtenaw’s D shift begins
  • Delta – 50%, won by 356 – Yellow dog UP county until 2000
  • Lake – 49%, won by 16 – Poorest county in the state

Nixon’s best 5 areas by vote differential:

  • Oakland – 64% – won by 118,000 – Oakland starts being the SE Michigan R base from around 72-88. Migration is the biggest support factor – which also leads to its R downfall later.
  • Macomb – 63% – won by 65,000 – This is really the first signal with Reagan Democrats after being a D stronghold in the 60’s.
  • Kent – 59% – won by 36,000
  • Ottawa – 72% – won by 27,000
  • Berrien – 68% – won by 25,000 – Berrien has a lot of moderate R’s. The margin of winning there is usually dependent on how many Benton Harbor residents vote.

Livingston County is 16th in vote differential (9200). It’s up to slightly under 25,000 total votes in 1972. It is starting to become more of a base county.


Nixon’s best 5 by percentage

  • Sanilac – 73%
  • Ottawa – 72%
  • Missaukee – 72%
  • Osceola – 70%
  • Eaton and Allegan – 69% – Eaton surprised me a little because I’m quite familiar with today’s Eaton County, but the Lansing area didn’t move far to the left until the Clinton era.


1976 – Ford 52%, Carter 46%, won by about 200,000

Home state was a big deal here. Ohio went for Carter, in a rare case of Michigan going more R than Ohio. Carter won seven counties in lower Michigan and 8 counties in the UP. Carter’s best five were:

  • Wayne – 60%, won by 200,000
  • Genesee – 52%, won by 8900
  • Bay – 52%, won by 2800
  • Monroe – 52%, won by 2600
  • Gogebic – 61%, won by 2400 – Most D county in the UP give or take Marquette

The other lower Michigan Carter Counties were Ogemaw, Arenac, and Lake. Unions (Corrections, UAW commuters, and retirees) caused the rise of the D’s in NE Lower Michigan, especially Arenac and Gladwin Counties. This shows up more in the 90’s.

Ford’s best 5:

  • Oakland – 59%, won by 80,000
  • Kent – 67%, won by 68,000 – Native son
  • Ottawa – 74%, won by 33000 – Almost a native son as Ottawa is split between GR and Holland metros
  • Ingham – 56%, won by 19000
  • Kalamazoo – 59%, won by 18000

Ford’s best 5 by%

  • Ottawa – 74%
  • Mecosta – 69% – Somewhat surprising to me. Ford must have special appeal to Big Rapids or Ferris St. It’s an R county today outside of the college town, but not by this margin.
  • Kent – 67%
  • Allegan – 66%
  • Eaton and Grand Traverse – 64%

Livingston moved up to 13th in vote differential (about 7000) with slightly under 32,000 total votes. People are starting to move out that way. My parents did in 78.


1980 – Reagan 49%, Carter 43%, won by 250,000

Reagan was the perfect Republican match for this state generally acceptable to all factions except the most liberal R’s (Milliken and Anderson types). In 1980, he took all but 9 counties, losing 4 in lower Michigan. Carter’s 5 best were.

  • Wayne – 59%, won by 206,000
  • Genesee – 49% – won by 12,000
  • Washtenaw – 44%, won by 2300 – Without Ford on the ticket, this wasn’t going R anymore. John Anderson also took a lot of votes there.
  • Gogebic – 51%, won by 870 – Yellow Dog
  • Delta – 48%, won by 330 – Yellow Dog until 2000s

The other lower Michigan Carter county was not surprisingly Lake County.

Reagan’s best 5 were:

  • Oakland – 55% – won by 88000 – The 80’s was where Oakland really got its former reputation.
  • Kent – 55% – won by 40,000
  • Macomb – 52% – won by 34,000
  • Ottawa – 68% – won by 33,000
  • Berrien – 61% – won by 19,000

My county broke into the top 10 in vote margins with 12,400 vote margin and 60%. While Macomb County has the Reagan Democrat reputation, it’s not just there. Monroe, Bay, Genesee, Saginaw, Muskegon, Arenac, and Ogemaw had a lot of them as well.

Reagan’s best 5 by percentage:

  • Ottawa – 68%
  • Sanilac – 67%
  • Hillsdale – 66%
  • Huron – 65%
  • Missaukee – 64%

No surprises there.

1984 – Reagan 59%, Mondale 40%, won by 730,000

Mondale only won four counties.

  • Wayne – 57%, won by 129,000
  • Gogebic – 58%, won by 1550
  • Iron – 50%, won by 91
  • Keewenaw – 51%, won by 29

Reagan’s 5 best :

  • Oakland – 67%, won by 156,000 – 60%+ in Oakland is impressive, even then.
  • Macomb – 66%, won by 96,000 – 60%+ in Macomb is impressive. Getting 60%+ in Macomb AND Oakland with different political cultures, then and now? Only Reagan or a horrible D candidate does that.
  • Kent – 67%, won by 71,000
  • Ottawa – 80%, won by 45,000 – Even in Ottawa County that’s impressive.
  • Kalamazoo – 64%, won by 26,000

My county was 9th with a 21,000 vote spread – and 74% for Reagan. The 31,000 votes overall these days in my county is about what D’s get however in a bad year now.


Reagan’s 5 best percentages.

  • Ottawa – 80%
  • Hillsdale – 77%
  • Missaukee – 76%
  • Sanilac – 75%
  • Livingston, Allegan, Branch – 74% – That’s the first time my county was on a top list. Branch County is next to Hillsdale in the middle of Free Soil Country and was/is a base county.


1988 – Bush 54%, Dukakis 46%, won by 290,000

Dukakis took 16 counties, 7 of which in lower Michigan. His best 5 are:

  • Wayne – 60%, won by 158,000
  • Genesee – 59%, won by 34,000
  • Bay – 57%, won by 7500
  • Washtenaw – 52%, won by 6800
  • Marquette – 57%, won by 3700

The other lower Michigan Dukakis counties are Lake, Arenac, and Saginaw.

Bush’s best 5:

  • Oakland – 61%, won by 109,000 – This was probably where Oakland was at Peak R in relation to the state (solid 8pt win, but not the blowout overall 1984 was). In 1990, Southfield was about 1/3 black. Dukakis won it by about 5000 votes (instead of the +30KD spread there now). Farmington Hills just west of Southfield was probably still a base R, at worst lean R city at that time. Troy (wasn’t trouble until 2008) was probably in the 60%+ range, and I’m sure Novi (wasn’t trouble until 2008) was as well. Royal Oak wasn’t yuppieville then either, but a more blue collar moderate suburb. While there’s less outer Oakland County R votes in areas like Lyon Township then compared to today, I think much of the outer Oakland vote today is cannibalized from folks in inner-Oakland back then who moved out. Inner Oakland R’s then were largely replaced by Detroiters today. There’s also a growing Asian population in places like Troy and Novi today.
  • Macomb – 60%, won by 63,000 – Reagan D’s stayed with R’s here. Dukakis in a tank at the Warren plant was a disaster move still talked about today. That was his attempt at getting the Macomb vote. It backfired in a bad way and sunk Dukakis’s chances here.
  • Kent – 64%, won by 58,000 – I think this may be the last year the City of Grand Rapids went R. It started to go dem again like it was in the 70’s.
  • Ottawa – 76%, won by 43,000
  • Livingston – 69%, won by 17,600 – My county first makes a top 5 for vote spread. This vote spread is about 1/2 of what the vote spread is today.

Best 5 by percentage:

  • Ottawa – 76%
  • Livingston – 69%
  • Hillsdale – 68%
  • Missaukee – 68%
  • Allegan – 67%

These are looking like what top 5% map is today outside of the Trump election.

1992 – Clinton 44%, Bush 37%, Perot 19%, won by 320,000

Bush I’s tax increase and the Perot populist movement did a ton of long term damage to Republicans in Michigan. Between the trade agreement proposal that became NAFTA that was a big issue, the tax increase, and overall economic uncertainty, we took a beating. Bill Clinton also had an absolute gift of communication and later was given short term credit for the SUV boom during the late 90’s period (and long term blame for NAFTA). Clinton’s best 5 Counties were as follows.


  • Wayne – 60%, won by 280,000 – R’s always lose Wayne County big, but that’s the first 275K level loss since the 1960’s when Wayne County had many more people.
  • Genesee – 53%, won by 57,000 – Perot took a ton of votes here.
  • Washtenaw – 53%, won by 32,000 – Clinton accelerated the trend that Reagan and Ford slowed down.
  • Ingham – 46%, won by 17,700 – Ingham was open to some Republicans until around 1990. Bush barely won it against Dukakis. Reagan did well. East Lansing (and later Meridian Twp) stampeded left. Ingham is now one of the D’s 4 best counties every election.
  • Saginaw – 45%, won by 11,800 – Bay usually was in this spot, but Saginaw slipped ahead of it. They vote very similar overall although slightly different coalitions (Saginaw has more base R votes, but more minorities cancelling them out).


Clinton’s best 5 by percentage:

  • Wayne – 60%
  • Washtenaw/Genesee – 53%
  • Ontonagon/Gogebic/Iron/Schoolcraft/Lake – 52%

The real story however was how many previously R leaning counties turned into D leaning counties, particularly in North Michigan.  Clare. Gladwin. Alpena. Roscommon, Etc. I think a lot of this was due to union retirees moving Up North. Even Wexford, Osceola, Kalkaska, and Huron Counties went for Clinton. Seniors in Michigan were Clinton’s biggest base, and North Michigan (and the Thumb) had and still has a lot of retirees. Bill Clinton won 49 counties out of 83. The college areas are now gone for good as well. Ingham, Washtenaw, Kalamazoo, and Isabella. Marquette always was D, but it didn’t flip when the rest of the UP did.


Bush’s best 5 were:

  • Ottawa – 59%, won by 35,000 – Perot did a number here, although it was short term.
  • Kent – 48%, won by 33,000 – Perot again did a number. Bush recovered numbers here, but R numbers dropped later
  • Oakland – 44%, won by 27,000 – The vote spread was cut by 3/4 over 1988. This was also the last time R’s won an Oakland presidential election. Bush II nearly did it in 2004 fighting to a near draw, but Oakland was no longer a base county here and no longer an R county in 1996.
  • Macomb – 42%, won by 17,000 – Clinton didn’t sell here in 92, but it flips back to the D’s in 96 with the SUV boom.
  • Livingston – 45%, won by 9700 – By my standards after 1988, that’s a loss more than a win. Terrible showing for my county. D’s actually made some big inroads here in the 90’s until we moved back to the right in the 2000s. The fact that a 4 digit spread was the 5th best for Bush shows what a bad year it was for us.


Bush’s best 5 percentages:

  • Ottawa – 59%
  • Kent – 48%
  • Allegan/Missaukee – 47%
  • Livingston – 45%

Perot’s showing showed how unpopular the R’s were here at that time. It gets worse

1996 – Clinton 52%, Dole 38%, Perot 8%, won by 500,000

This was the year where we lost a lot of the suburbs. Suburbs aren’t monolithic, but all types of suburbs moved left here – the upper middle class and affluent suburbs that aren’t social conservative like Farmington Hills that the pundits proclaim as the typical suburb moved left. The working and middle class populist suburbs like Fraser and St Clair Shores that don’t get the hype also moved left. The rural areas were even rougher for us, but those were trouble in 92 as well. In shore, Clinton kicked our arse up and down the state winning 61 counties. This was arguably worse than 2008 here as the damage was more widespread geographically and less concentrated, and on par with 2006’s bloodbath (the worst where I was personally involved). Arguably only 1986 was worse in my lifetime. My congressional seat flipped that year too to Stabenow to add insult to injury.

Clinton best 5:

  • Wayne – 69%, won by 329,000 – Wayne County’s keeps losing population, but gets worse spreads for us. The percentages from here on out are closer to 70% than 60%.
  • Genesee – 61%, won by 57,000 – If nothing else, Genesee County is usually very consistent (Trump exception)
  • Washtenaw – 59%, won by 33,000 – Ann Arbor goes deep blue now, and it’s burbs now also go blue.
  • Macomb – 50%, won by 31,000 – The Reagan Democrats go back to the D’s. That 50% was with Perot on the ticket.
  • Oakland – 48%, won by 22,000 – Clinton flips Oakland and keeps it flipped to this day.

To give an idea how bad it was, Ingham didn’t make the list and was a 20,500 D spread as well.

Clinton’s best 5 by Percentage

  • Wayne – 69%
  • Genesee – 61%
  • Washtenaw/Lake – 59%
  • Marquette/Schoolcraft – 57%

Dole’s best 5:

  • Kent – 54%, won by 35,000
  • Ottawa – 64% won by 34,000
  • Livingston – 51%, won by 8000 – D’s gained ground in vote spread and it’s Dole’s 3rd best? That tells you how bad this election really was. Dole even visited Livingston County right before the election. It wasn’t enough to save Dick Chrysler, the first Livingston County Congressman we had in a long time (since Winans?).
  • Allegan – 54%, won by 6500
  • Berrien – 48%, won by 3600


Dole’s best 5 by percentage:

  • Ottawa – 64%:
  • Kent/Allegan – 54%
  • Livingston – 51%
  • Leelanau/Missaukee – 50%


2000 – Gore 51%, Bush 46%, won by 217,000

I always thought Bush was a bad fit for Michigan and bombed here in 2000 to someone that should not have won the state, but after the damage of 92 and 96, I think Michigan was more D than its reputation was then (albeit less D than its reputation was a month before Trump’s election). In retrospect, while Bush was a bad fit for East Michigan, he was a good fit for West Michigan. The UP starts to go our way a bit, and even longtime D areas like Delta County finally flip. Most of the UP counties flipped for good with the exception of 2008 when McCain publicly quit the state. Oakland narrowly went D, as did Macomb that year.


Gore’s best 5:

  • Wayne – 69%, won by 307,000 – The machine.
  • Genesee – 63%, won by 53,000 – Also the machine.
  • Washtenaw – 60%, won by 34,000 – College towns really start to move left.
  • Ingham – 57%, won by 22,000 – Same story as Washtenaw
  • Saginaw – 54%, won by 9700 – The machine again.


Gore’s best 5%

  • Wayne – 69%
  • Genesee – 63%
  • Washtenaw – 60%
  • Ingham – 57%
  • Muskegon – 55%

All university or UAW machine areas.


Bush’s best 5

  • Kent – 59%, won by 53,000 – Bush really did well in Kent County’s suburbs. I saw some diminishing returns out of here post 2004, but I’m wondering now if Kent County just had a lot of “Bush Independents.” Bush was a great fit for Kent (and Ottawa) County.
  • Ottawa – 71%, won by 49,000
  • Livingston – 59%, won by 16,000 – A lot of the old 1980’s Oakland GOP vote is now here. Outside of the 08 McCain quitting disaster, this was also the last time R’s were under 60% here for presidential elections. Bush had 44,000 votes here. Reagan in 84 had about 32,000.
  • Allegan – 63%, won by 13,000 – Fast growing area in Dutch country increasing the spread there.
  • Grand Traverse – 59%, won by 8000 – Fast growing area as well and the suburbs of Traverse City are strongly R (City is D).


Bush best 5 by%

  • Ottawa – 71%
  • Missaukee – 66% (Dutch rural county up north)
  • Allegan – 63%
  • Barry/Hillsdale/Ontonagon – 60% – Interesting to see a UP county on this list, especially one on Clinton’s list.


2004 – Kerry 51%, Bush 47%, won by 165,000

Bush made a fairly strong play to win Michigan, and I think there was some shenanigans going on in Detroit and a couple of other places that may have caused Kerry’s win. Kerry only won 15 counties, so most of the rural areas that voted for Clinton went back home. Macomb County flipped to Bush and Oakland was fought to a near draw narrowly going for Kerry.


Kerry’s top 5:

  • Wayne – 69%, won by 342,000 – The machine.
  • Washtenaw – 64%, won by 48,500 – The college towns were lost in 92, but stampeded left starting in 04.
  • Genesee – 60%, won by 44,500 – Bush made some inroads here.
  • Ingham – 58%, won by 22,100 – Bush did better in Lansing, but worse in East Lansing and Meridian Twp.
  • Muskegon – 55%, won by 9000 – The machine again.


Kerry’s top 5%

  • Wayne – 69%
  • Washtenaw – 64%
  • Genesee – 60%
  • Ingham – 58%
  • Muskegon – 55%


Bush’s top 5

  • Ottawa – 72%, won by 56,500 – Dutch county (Ottawa/Kent/Allegan) was Bush’s best area.
  • Kent – 59%, won by 54,300
  • Livingston – 63%, won by 25,000 – 9000 vote spread improvement over 2000. Population growth helped us. Bush was the first R to get 50,000 votes here. Romney got 60,000 8 years later, and Trump got 65,000 after that.
  • Allegan – 63%, won by 15,000
  • Grand Traverse – 59%, won by 9200


Bush top 5%

  • Ottawa – 72%
  • Missaukee – 68%
  • Livingston/Allegan/Hillsdale – 63%


2008 – Obama 57%, McCain 41%, won by 840,000

This should have been about a 8-10% loss, not a 16% loss. That doesn’t sound like it matters much in the grand scheme of things, but it does matter downticket and is a reason I support a 50 state strategy. That probably would have saved Walberg’s district that year. While there’s argument on worse overall results (1986, 1996 or 2006 for example) McCain ran the worst campaign I’ve even seen. His people announced publicly that he quit my state. Romney did the same thing in 2012 privately (which did hurt us some), but he never publicly quit. Karl Rove’s mouth running hurt us in 2012 more than Romney, and took a probable 6pt loss into a 9pt loss. That was Rove though, not Romney. Michigan will tighten up late if there’s a serious contest. It doesn’t always result in a win (2002 went from double digits in polls to 4% loss – saving the state house/senate), but sometimes it causes upsets to happen, as John Engler in 1990 and Donald Trump in 2016 both found out.

Obama took 46 counties, which was the most since Clinton’s rampage in 96.


Obama’s best 5:

  • Wayne – 74%, won by 440,000 – Even in Wayne County, that’s unreal.
  • Oakland – 56%, won by 96,000 – That’s the D’s standard in Oakaland
  • Washtenaw – 70%, won by 76,600 – D’s actually exceeded this spread in Washtenaw in 2018
  • Genesee – 65%, won by 71,500 – Obama got the white working class votes here, but that doesn’t fit the media narrative
  • Ingham – 66%, won by 48,000 – This was enough for Obama to win my congressional district. Luckily Mike Rogers was a strong incumbent.

Obama did well across Michigan in 08, but he especially did well in places with a lot of minorities and in college areas. At least four of those five fit the mold for minority or college populations, and you can make the argument for Oakland there as well although it’s minority percentage is lower than Wayne or Genesee Counties.

Obama’s best 5%

  • Wayne – 74%
  • Washtenaw – 70%
  • Ingham – 66%
  • Genesee – 65%
  • Muskegon  64%

McCain’s best 5

  • Ottawa – 61%, won by 32,500
  • Livingston – 56%, won by 13,000 – Our worst showing since Dole. The housing market crash killed us along M-59. While we “won” that area, it wasn’t by enough.
  • Allegan – 54%, won by 6000 – South Allegan moved hard against us. North Allegan was still solid.
  • Barry – 54%, won by 3000 – Barry County has 70,000 total.
  • Hillsdale – 55%, won by 2500 – When a rough year in Hillsdale makes the spread list, that says it all. Hillsdale County has 46,000 total people.

McCain’s best 5%

  • Ottawa – 61%
  • Missaukee – 60%
  • Livingston – 56%
  • Hillsdale – 55%
  • Allegan/Barry/Antrim/Osceola/Luce/Keweenaw – 54%


2012 – Obama 54, Romney 45, won by 450,000

“Let Detroit go Bankrupt” was never forgiven. Beyond that, I’ve said a lot about this race over the years and my thoughts about Romney as a candidate in the Path to Win (or lose) Michigan. I don’t need to rehash it again. Union members and supporters widely disliked Romney with a passion.

Obama’s best 5:

  • Wayne – 73%, won by 382,000
  • Washtenaw – 67%, won by 64,500 – I did think Romney would have done less worse in Washtenaw, but that area is so reflexively partisan these days. Snyder did well there, but he’s from there.
  • Genesee – 63%, won by 57,000
  • Oakland – 53%, won by 52,500 – Romney was supposed to make a play for Oakland. He’s from there. His results weren’t much better than Trump’s although he cut McCain’s deficit by almost 1/2.
  • Ingham – 63%, won by 35,500


Obama’s best 5%

  • Wayne – 73%
  • Washtenaw 67%
  • Genesee/Ingham – 63%
  • Muskegon – 58%


Romney’s best 5:

  • Ottawa – 66% – won by 45,400
  • Livingston – 61% – won by 22,800 – Bleeding stopped from 08, The vote spread was not quite as good as Bush04’s spread, but the 60,000 votes set a record.
  • Kent – 53%, won by 22,500 – Obama won it in 08 as Grand Rapids stampeded left after 2004.
  • Allegan – 59%, won by 10,300
  • Midland – 57%, won by 6,500 – Romney was a good fit for Midland. R’s do well there, but he did better than most.


Romney’s best 5%

  • Ottawa/Missaukee – 66%
  • Livingston/Hillsdale/Luce – 61%


2016 – Trump 47%, Clinton 47%, won by 10,700

This changed the map. I did go back and updated the Path to Win (or Lose) Michigan to add the Trump numbers as a comparison.

Clinton’s best 5:

  • Wayne – 66%, won by 290,000 – This was the worst since 1992 for D’s in the county. Unlike Bill, Hillary didn’t have any rural appeal whatsoever. She also didn’t do as well in many of the suburbs, despite pundit narrative. Underperformance of turnout combined with “big league” struggling in Livonia, the Downriver suburbs, and the airport suburbs meant trouble. Her overperformance in Grosse Pointe and the far western suburbs doesn’t make up for that. Keeping the margin under 300K is a “loss” for Hillary. Most D’s can win with 275K-300K margins in Wayne. She couldn’t.
  • Washtenaw – 68%, won by 78,000 – Ann Arbor and its suburbs almost saved the day for Hillary by its overperformance, even by D standards. This is SJW and feminist D central. It wasn’t enough, but Washtenaw did its job and more for Hillary.
  • Oakland – 51%, won by 54,000 – As rough as Trump did in PARTS of Oakland, overall it’s only slightly worse than Romney in a county where he’s a terrible cultural fit. Hillary overperformed and underperformed both in Oakland depending on the area. Novi was big for her. Waterford was the opposite.
  • Ingham – 60%, won by 35,000 – Clinton overperformed in East Lansing and Meridian Twp, but not Lansing. In the end, it evened out for Hillary by vote spread.
  • Genesee – 52%, won by 18,600 – It may be among the best 5 counties in terms of vote spread, but by D standards, that’s terrible. It’s like the 1996 numbers for R’s in Livingston County. This is a “loss” for D’s, much as Kent County this year was a “loss” for R’s even through Trump won it. Most of the Flint suburbs flipped to Trump, even normally 60%D Burton.


Clinton’s best 5%

  • Washtenaw – 68% – This is the first time since I don’t know when that Wayne County wasn’t number one for the D’s.
  • Wayne – 66%
  • Ingham – 60%
  • Kalamazoo – 53%
  • Genesee – 52%


Trump’s best 5

  • Macomb – 54%, won by 48,300 – This was an Obama county twice. The Reagan D’s came back home in a big way.
  • Ottawa – 62%, won by 43,500 – Not great for Ottawa, but he did what he needed.
  • Livingston – 62%, won by 31,300 – While our % isn’t as impressive as other counties this year, the vote spread was a record, as was the 65000+ votes for Trump. Western Livingston loved Trump. Eastern Livingston tolerated him. All of that 31K was needed as well.
  • St Clair – 63%, won by 24,500 – normally a light red county although one that Bill Clinton and Obama 08 won, its views are in line with Macomb on a lot of things, but is more conservative.
  • Lapeer – 67%, won by 17,000 – This is a county to watch and it’s becoming a base county, but it’s not usually by this margin. I always thought Lapeer had the potential to be the next Livingston County. I saw some of that in 2004, but the housing market hit hard there.


Trump’s best 5%

  • Missaukee – 74% – Trump did great up north.
  • Hillsdale – 71% – I was a little surprised at Hillsdale and expected a higher 3rd party vote, but the area away from the college is very populist. Trump won the city 2-1, but got 75%+ numbers outside of it.
  • Sanilac/Montmorency/Oscoda – 70%. – NE Michigan Counties are now on that list.

Much of Michigan’s recent history I covered in “The Path to win or lose Michigan” so I won’t rehash it.

What’s interesting is how full circle back to the Free Soil roots the rural areas have gone after Clinton’s monster gains there. If those votes stay with Trump – and many of them have trended that way, this is a great sign for the R’s. If Bay and Saginaw Counties flip, even better, although I’m not counting on that just yet. Macomb is never safe and one of the most of the most ornery counties in the country. Monroe usually votes with Macomb as well. Shiawassee County may be back home as well if the Genesee County burbs are at worst even up. The good news for R’s in Macomb is the growth in Northern Macomb. Macomb Twp and Shelby Twp are highly populated base R suburbs. Clinton Twp flipped, is fast growing, and now has 100,000 people. I don’t expect to outright win it every time with the growing black population, but there’s some base R neighborhoods there too. Sterling Heights is winnable. R’s need to make some serious outreach to Chaldeans there (and in West Bloomfield to reduce our losses there). They don’t always vote and don’t trust politicians in general. They liked Trump and tend to be conservative on 2nd Amendment, life issues, and small business issues.

Don’t count on Downriver just yet, but that’s an area that needs to be contested further. They like Trump, but they aren’t R voters yet. There’s a long tradition there, and we still lost the 23rd state house district despite Trump (although we flipped the 17th which was more D).  Wayne County’s depopulation helps the R’s, but there’s a price to be paid for it, especially in Oakland County. The movement in Southfield, Farmington Hills, and West Bloomfield are because of migration. That’s a problem for R’s. It’s now affecting Novi as well, along with the Asian population moving there. While winning big in outer Oakland County (and Waterford) helps, Lyon Township and White Lake aren’t going to cancel out Southfield, Pontiac, West Bloomfield, Royal Oak, and the SE Oakland Corridor without at a minimum holding serve in Novi and Troy (preferably 55% or better like Bush got) and improving margins in the Bloomfield Twp, Bloomfield Hills, and Rochester.

Some of Oakland’s loss is Livingston and Lapeer’s gain, at least for now. A lot of residents here and southern Lapeer moved from Oakland county.

Eastern Washtenaw County,  parts of Kalamazoo County, and NW Ingham County are problems and they are only going to get bigger.

The bleeding needs to stop in Kent County. I don’t know how much of it is Trump being a bad fit there and how much of it is Grand Rapids, Kentwood, and Wyoming.

The best thing about 2016 here in Michigan is that it proved that this is a state that needs to be fought. I’ve been battling for state respect here for a long time, but that’s not meant to be at the expense of other states. I support a 50 state strategy and thought that Howard Dean had the right idea in 2006. I’d like to see R’s make a push, especially downticket in every state in the union, even Massachusetts and California. Now I understand that some of those R’s may drive me nuts on issues like gun control in those states, but as I said about Mike Castle. “It’s Delaware.” If we can stop bleeding in some of those congressional districts, it’ll help secure the house and get the committee votes. Those state house/senate seats are a redistricting factor as well.



A day working in Michigan’s Recount

While the courts halted the recount in Michigan, my county did go for one day and I was there for that. I’ve been involved in most roles in an election at some point in the last 15 years. Recounts are new territory for me. I knew about the Mike Rogers recount in 2000 for congress and Joe Hune’s recount in the 2002 primary, and a township recount here and there, but I wasn’t in the middle of those. I took some time off and spent all day yesterday working as an attorney challenger on the Republican side for the recount yesterday. It was the first day the recount was going to be counted in Livingston County. While I do not like how much this recount is going to cost our counties ($125 a precinct isn’t going to cover it) nor the waste of time it ended up being from a results standpoint, the process was a great learning experience.  We went through 1/3 of the precincts in Livingston County, and Trump gained 18 votes, with Hillary gaining 5 in the county. Some things I’ve learned or were reinforced.  We aren’t the majority. By that, I mean those who eat, breath, and sleep politics. This was shown in some of the voting patterns and downticket splits. People have their own reasons for voting the way they do. It’s not always ideological.

I don’t impress easily. I was impressed at the operation. We have very good group of municipal clerks (with one major exception) here in Livingston County. This was a tough test. We didn’t know what the courts would do. We did not expect a statewide presidential recount.  Our county clerk is new and has been on the job for about a year. This was a short notice surprise. Our County Clerk had a good team organized. Two of our past county clerks were there helping. I saw most of the township and city clerks there. There were four rooms at a county building used for the recount. Both parties had people covering the polling stations. Myself, one other attorney, and a Michigan Republican Party staffer. I moved around between the four rooms keeping an eye on things. Some representatives from the State Bureau of Elections were there as well.

The actual process in Livingston County was as follows. A precinct is delivered to the table. The seals are supposed to match. The seal is broken and the ballots are removed by the election workers. Challengers and attorneys are not allowed to touch the ballots. The workers then count the number of ballots. They are supposed to match the pollbook or tabulator. If they don’t, they count again. If there’s three counts that don’t match, then the precinct is deemed “Not recountable” and the original numbers are used for the election. Once the ballots match, then the ballots are sorted into piles of Trump, Clinton, Others (write-ins, blanks), Johnson, Stein, Castle, and the Natural Law Party candidate I can’t remember. After the piles are sorted, then stacks of 25 are counted for each candidate by the poll workers with the results entered. The ballots are then resealed in the bin.

Jill Stein thought there was no way that 85000 people skipped the presidential race. I disagreed with that then and still do now. While Trump got the majority in my county, a lot of people didn’t like either candidate. There were some scorned primary voters who went straight ticket for one party, but voted the opposite for president (Trump D’s and Hillary R’s). There were more straight party 3rd party straight tickets with a Trump or Hillary vote. Working Class favored Trump. Libertarians seems more Trump (if not Johnson) but not always. Greens more Hillary, but not always. Some went Trump. There were quite a few votes for blanks, particularly among Republicans. There were some, although not many votes for Evan McMullin, who was a write in here.  There were also “invalid write-in” votes (counts the same as a no vote or blank vote) for Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Bernie Sanders, “none of the above”, and even Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck, and Jimmy Kimmell. Some wrote in Mike Pence. Those were usually put in the “others” pile, but I challenged those as votes for Trump/Pence. Michigan is not a voter intent state. Here’s something I didn’t know until a couple of days ago. If I voted straight party R and wrote in a “non-valid” write in candidate. Donald Duck for example. The Donald Duck vote would not count, and the straight party vote would take over turning it into a vote for Trump. If I didn’t vote straight party and voted for Donald Duck, then it would be the same as a blank vote for president. On the other hand, if I voted straight party R, but voted for Evan McMullin, it would could as vote for McMullin as he was a valid write in. It sounds strange, but that’s the law in Michigan.

I’ve heard about major problems in Wayne County. I wasn’t there for those, but they are found all over the internet.

Our county folks did a great job. 90% of our townships and municipalities did a great job, both on election day, and in the recount. They worked well together to get through this process. Our county clerk was there herself, as were two previous retired county clerks who were there to help. Our County’s elections director for the most part ran the show and is one of the best. Most of our township clerks were there as well helping with the process. Most of the problems we saw were from one township. Sadly, it was mine. No, I am not surprised. There’s a reason why I ran against my township clerk in the August primary. Elections was at the top of the list. Two precincts were deemed not recountable due to ballot counts not matching. Both were in my township, and one of the precincts was my own. I was not happy about that as you probably guessed. I made two challenges. One was on a ballot. The other was related to seals. On one of my township’s AVCB I saw, 3 of the four boxes were sealed. The fourth was not. In that box, there were absentee envelopes, but also original ballots duplicated (allowed) in an envelope. All of the ballots should be in a sealed box.

I didn’t see any problems with other municipalities in my county. That’s not to say there weren’t other issues, but I didn’t see them, nor did I hear about them. I also do not expect many problems in my county which has a good reputation for doing things the right way.  One thing that the Stein folks did was confuse the recount process for an audit. I do agree with the Stein committee that there needs to be audits regarding our elections. A recount isn’t the place for that since recounts only show changes in number of votes and/or if a precinct is recountable. Many precincts in different areas of the state had issues. While this recount was a waste of taxpayers’ money, some good did happen out of it, which is to bring some of our election weak links out in the open. We have to make a positive of the negative here, and get our elections in order across the state.



Closer look at MI results – Dangers and Opportunities (Livingston, E Ingham, N Washtenaw, W Oakland)

The Michigan map changed things on its head. Instead of a few counties going 60% or higher, several counties did. A lot of people are going to look at the map and claim white working class voters in Macomb County and rural Michigan won the day. That’s true to a large extent. The question now is what to do. I saw a lot of opportunity from the expanded map. Michigan finally flipped. The extra attention by Trump showed that Michiganders prefer candidates who fight instead of quit McCain style. I also saw some danger. I went over the macro here – How Trump won Michigan. –

Everyone kept an eye on the rural increases vs the suburban collapse of Oakland County (or suburban over-performance in Macomb). What caught my attention was my own Livingston County which is between four blue counties. It doesn’t stick out to most people because Trump got 61.68% here (most maps had it at around 62.3%), but I had about 1000 blank ballots for POTUS included in my percentages. I knew Trump was going to bleed in the Dutch areas. I knew Trump was going to bleed in much of Oakland County. I didn’t know what to expect here in Livingston going in since there is not much different between Eastern Livingston and far Western Oakland (South Lyon and Milford zip codes have territory here). Trump didn’t really bleed countywide here, but he didn’t increase his percentage even close to what he did in Macomb. I knew he did very well in Western Livingston County, so I wondered if he bled in eastern Livingston. The answer is actually more complicated than I thought. Trump bled in some areas here, but Hillary Clinton bled more.

One of the factors in 2012 was that Gary Johnson was not on the ballot. He was an NPA write-in under the sore-loser law as he was on the ballot in the 2012 primary as a write-in. Another factor was the 1000 blanks factoring into the numbers. Between “blank” and 3rd parties, there was 6419 “protest” votes in my county – about 6% of the vote. That’s a lot.

After all the polling and doing the project on the path to win or lose Michigan, I learned that things need to be shown in context. My county does not exist in a vaccum, as much as I wish it did at times. With the exception of Hartland and Hamburg, nobody outside of a political person says they are from one of our county’s townships if you ask them. They are from Brighton, Howell, South Lyon, Fenton (Tyrone Twp has ties to Fenton and Linden), Pinckney (village in Putnam Twp), or Fowlerville (village in Handy Twp). I expected the area here to show nearby changes in Western Oakland/Southern Genessee, Northern Washtenaw, and Western Ingham for comparison sake.

The first map is as follows. It is Trump’s numbers, by percentage.


Worse than Romney – 0-5% – Deep sky Blue 5%+Blue,

Better – 0-2% – Yellow, 2-5% – Salmon, 5-10% – Orange Red, 10%+ Red

This looks like trouble, and in some cases it is. You see a percentage decrease in eastern Livingston County, as well as the neighboring parts of Oakland and Washtenaw County with exceptions of Salem (very affluent and rural – horse country, closely tied to South Lyon), and blue collar Northfield Township (Whitmore Lake). You also see the improvements in the more rural western part of the county. This spills over into parts of Shiawassee County (Durand area tied to Flint) and parts of Ingham County until you get to the state worker influenced areas which went heavily against Trump. Keep in mind that Trump won all the areas in Livingston County listed, as well as most of the Oakland areas outside of Novi and Wixom. He also did well in NW Oakland which has some Flint related influence. Trump did the best of any R in Genesee County going back to at least Bush Sr. Washtenaw was a massive cratering that Trump was lucky to survive, as was Novi in Oakland. You can see where the bleeding was compared to Romney here.

The 2nd map is Hillary’s numbers by percentage.


Better than Obama – 0-2% yellow, 2-5% Salmon, 5-10% Orange Red

Worse than Obama 0-5% – deep sky blue, 5-10% – blue, 10-15% – navy blue, more than 15% – Black

If the first map was trouble for R’s, what does this show for D’s? BIG trouble. Much of the under-performance here by both parties that lost a percentage went to third parties or blanks. The difference is this. At least Trump didn’t double digit bleed on this map. Hillary double digit bled in a lot of places, particularly in the farm areas and closer to Flint’s suburbs. The only gains for Hillary are slight gains in Novi, closer to Lansing, and some good gains for her in the Ann Arbor area. Everything else is a bleed in percentages due to third parties.

Percentages are good comparisons, but raw votes is what really determines the winner. This is relatively fast growing part of Michigan.


Trump gains 0-100 votes – yellow. 100-500 votes – salmon. 500-1000 votes – Orange red. More than 1000 votes – Red.

Trump loses 0-100 votes – deep sky blue. 100-500 votes – blue – 500-1000 votes – navy blue – more than 1000 votes – black

This tells a different story than bleeding outside of a few areas. Lyon Twp sticks out because it had a lot of new construction. Marion Twp and Oceola Twp is the same way. The blue spots in my county are the City of Brighton and Genoa Township. Trump was a bad fit for the eastern part of Genoa Township (as was Hillary). It was still 60%R, but not 64% like it was for Romney, or 66% like it was for Bush. It’s not in danger of going blue, but some of the highly affluent precincts will recoil a bit at Trump, although not to a Bloomfield extent (this still is Livingston County).  Brighton City is slightly R leaning. Two precincts were bad for Trump, and ironically they were the more R precincts. The D precinct went for Trump and flipped. A lot of the 100-500 vote gains on the west side are major due to being more sparsely populated. Novi and the Ann Arbor area are major concerns for the future. BTW – I combined Dexter and Scio Twp for 2016 purposes and Dexter (city) was a village whose voters were put in Scio Twp. It’s now a city, so both candidates “lost votes” in Scio Twp otherwise.

From Hillary’s side.


Hillary gains 0-100 votes – yellow. 100-500 votes – salmon. 500-1000 votes – Orange red. More than 1000 votes – Red.

Hillary loses 0-100 votes – deep sky blue. 100-500 votes – blue – 500-1000 votes – navy blue – more than 1000 votes – black

This tells another story of bleeding. All those rural areas bleeding say a lot. While it looks like Lyon Twp’s construction helped Hillary, she gained slightly over 500 votes, while Trump gained almost 1000 there. It was closer to an Oceola Twp situation where both gained, but Trump gained much more than Hillary. The City of Brighton was only a 16 vote gain.  The Ann Arbor area was the real movement in her direction, as was Novi.

So what is the lesson for the future. I’d say there’s three questions there.

  1. Can the dems stop the bleeding and get some of the rural vote and Flint suburb vote back? A lot of those losses were the R’s gain.
  2. Can the R’s flip Novi back? Can the bleeding be stopped in the Ann Arbor area? A lot of those losses were the D’s gain.
  3. Where does the 3rd party vote go? Eastern Livingston turned a little on both candidates, more so the D’s. I think if Trump does a competent job, he’ll get a lot of those votes back. If not, they could swing like McCain in 08. That’s a danger area, especially for a statewide win.

Basically 1 and 2 and 3 are almost different forms of the same question. Hillary ran over 5% behind Obama in my county overall. Those that couldn’t vote for Trump in my county couldn’t vote for Hillary either. Gary Johnson got 4% here.  Trump’s western Livingston triumph masks the issues of 3rd party defections on the east side of the county. Can those be won (or won back) in 2020? I think Trump has a good chance to improve – IF HE GOES A GOOD JOB.

For my county, a close eye needs to be on neighboring Dexter Twp and Webster Twp. The biggest Ann Arbor influences in my county are Hamburg and Putnam Twps, but there’s also a bit of blue collar heritage there. The R’s usual worst precincts are Brighton City 1 and Putnam Twp 1 (Patterson Lake and Hell – yes, Hell Michigan). Both of them voted for Trump after voting for Obama. Brighton 1 even went to John Kerry. The tougher Howell, Hamburg (except 7av), Unadilla, and Green Oak precincts also went for Trump. The other areas were and are solid.

I don’t see much Lansing spillover, but Williamston isn’t that far away from Fowlerville and is getting tougher and tougher. The Flint suburbs moved to the right, which helps Tyrone Twp. The Oakland blue wall is Wixom/Novi. That needs to be watched. South Lyon is still solid for us, as is Milford. Commerce is one to watch as well due to its neighbors. I think Highland and White Lake may have some Waterford influences. I’m surprised some at the movement there. Holly is a Flint area bedroom community and will swing with rural Genesee County.

My county had around a 31,000 vote spread for Trump over Hillary. That’s 2 1/2 times the difference statewide. I mention the dangers, not because my county is in danger of flipping anytime soon, but because it doesn’t have to flip for the D’s to “win” here. If the D’s do to us here what Trump did in Genesee County, that’s a win for them. McCain won here by 13000 votes. Bush 04 won by 25000 and Romney 23,000. With R’s struggling in Oakland , counties like Livingston, Lapeer, and St Clair have to take up the slack.



How Trump won Michigan

Over the past year, I had the long running series about “The Path to Win (or lose) Michigan.” I’m not going to rehash everything there in detail, but Trump did about 2/3 of what was needed, with an assist/detriment (not sure which) from Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and even Darrell Castle. He went for and got the working class independents, and got the votes needed up north. He stopped the bleeding overall in MOST areas. He did massively bleed in college towns and in Kent County. Oakland bled, but no worse than McCain.

I always liked to brag about Livingston County being the third or fourth most Republican County in the state. That’s not the case. We’re now the middle of the pack, despite gaining a point from Romney’s year and picking up 5500 more votes from Romney’s campaign for a county record of 65665 votes. We did our part, but didn’t have the same level of crossover. I haven’t number crunched the county, but East Livingston wasn’t as warm to Trump as West Livingston. He only lost one precinct here (one AV precinct in Hamburg), and flipped the precincts Obama won. I think he may have bled some to Gary Johnson, but I need to look at that closely. My county was one of the better ones for Romney in 2012 too, so partisan improvement is harder to come by here. Ottawa County was a similar boat, but their maximum was Bush’s 2004 numbers. They are usually number one and frequently break 70%R. This year they didn’t. 62.2%, which is the same as ours. However, they only gained about 500 votes over Romney and were about 3500 votes less than Bush’s 04 numbers. There was some bleeding in West Michigan over the past 10 years, and Trump was not a good candidate there.

Trump lost 8 counties to Hillary. I’m going to argue however that one of these is his better counties. His worst percentages were as follows.

  1. Washtenaw – He cratered here with the worst numbers for a Republican I’ve ever seen. This is one county I can actually number crunch. Trump got 26.90% here, lower than McCain’s 28.8 and Romney’s 31.30%. Trump was reduced to  11.89% in Ann Arbor. Trump actually did better than Ypsilanti (usually more D) than Ann Arbor. Trump got 12.48% there. He lost Chelsea about 2-1. He did win swingish Manchester Twp and Northfield Twp which are more blue collar. He also won democrat leaning Augusta Twp. The Ann Arbor surrounding twps were disasters. Scio, Pittsfield, Superior, Ann Arbor Twp, etc. Ypsilanti Twp was bad as well. 24% there. To put this in perspective – Washtenaw County was worse for Trump than Wayne County. It’s that bad. Trump had 50613 votes here, less than Bush in 2000 when there was less population. McCain had 53946. It’s going to be tough for R’s to stop the bleeding here.
  2. Wayne – Wayne County is Wayne County. It’s like a smaller version of Cook County in Illinois, Philly in Pennsylvania, and a Cuyahoga in Ohio. Trump got 29.50% here, which is only 0.3% worse than Bush in 2004, when it was less democrat (back when Canton, Dearborn Heights, and Redford was less D). This is a 4.9% improvement over McCain and 3.4% improvement over Romney. More impressively, despite Wayne County’s population losses, Trump had 8731 more votes than McCain and 14499 votes more than Romney. Wayne County’s improvement in raw votes won the election for Trump! I wish I could numbercrunch the county to see what he did in downriver along with the far west suburbs. Trump didn’t do that bad here, compared to what R’s have been doing here in presidential years.
  3. Ingham County – Ingham County used to be the 4th most D county in the state. It’s now 3rd. Trump’s 33% here is less than 1% better than Mccain’s 08 disaster here and 2% worse than Romney’s. His 43864 votes is 2619 votes less than McCain and 1442 less than Romney’s. East Lansing was a disaster. Trump’s 22% here was lower than most, although 3rd party spillage helped reduce Hillary to 71%. Lansing was an equally bad or worse disaster. Meridian Twp was a disaster. Delhi Twp went heavy for Hillary. Trump lost swingish Williamston, Williamstown Twp, and Mason. The only swingish are he won was Leslie. The farm areas were bright spots for him, but didn’t prevent a cratering here.
  4. Kalamazoo County – This is another college based county. Trump’s 40.50% was 1% higher than McCain’s and 2% less than Romney’s. Trump had 523 votes less than McCain and 1631 less than Romney. The numbers here explain the story. Suburban collapse here, like most predicted –
  5. Genesee County – I’d argue that this is actually one of Trump’s better counties. This is normally 60-38 territory. Trump got 42.90% which was probably the highest percentage since George HW Bush in 1988 running as Reagan’s third term. He ran 10% higher than McCain and 7.7% higher than Romney. He got over 11,000 more votes than McCain and over 12,000 more votes than Romney. He won areas that Republicans have no business winning. Clio? Montrose? Vienna Twp? That’s John Cherry Country. – I can’t number crunch the county itself, but that mlive is a good article. I wish I knew the numbers in Burton and Davison.
  6. Oakland County – Trump’s a bad matchup for Oakland County and got 43.60%. He did 1.7% better than McCain and 1.8% worse than Romney. He had 12171 more votes than McCain and 7387 less than Romney. 3rd party bleeding had a major effect here as Hillary did worse than Obama’s 2012 numbers as well. Trump lost Birmingham (McCain lost it too), Clawson (but Hillary got under 50%), did about equally bad as Romney/McCain in Farmington Hills, and bombed in Bloomfield Twp (getting 53%). Trump lost Novi and Troy (same as McCain). Trump struggled in Rochester Hills/Rochester with narrow wins (not surprised, that’s either Tom McMillin or Kasich country). Trump lost Wixom barely by 40 votes. Trump held Hillary to 53% in Hazel Park (mix of old school blue collar and Ferndale types). He held Hillary to 49% in Madison Heights, which surprised me. Hillary got 57% in Royal Oak, 76% in Huntington Woods, and 71% in Ferndale. West Bloomfield was 57% Hillary, which isn’t all that different than normal. I suspect the Jewish vote went more Hillary than normal, but Chaldeans probably offset that some. In the State Rep districts in West Bloomfield, McCready (considered safe) lost the township badly, and Kesto barely lost it. Hillary got 82% in Pontiac, 87% in Southfield (less than Obama), and 97% in Royal Oak Twp. Trump took swingish Walled Lake and got 54% in swingish Waterford. Hillary got 39% in Waterford which was terrible for a D there. Johnson was an impact there. He got 57% in swingish Holly which Obama won in 2008, 59% in Independence Twp (slight under-perform, but Clinton under-performed more), 59% in Lyon Twp (same story as Independence) and 58% in Milford. 61% in Oakland Twp and 62% in Oxford was good. 56% in Orion seems about normal. 65% in Rose Twp was very good. He got 54% in South Lyon which wasn’t good, but Hillary only had 38% there which was very good. Johnson got 4.5% there.
  7. Marquette County – Trump’s 44.50% here is the best since Bush’s 04 numbers (45.20%) when Bush visited Marquette. Trump ran 5.7% ahead of McCain and 2.4% ahead of Romney. Trump got around 6800 more votes than McCain and 5000 votes more than Romney.
  8. Muskegon County – Trump 46.60% was the best numbers here in this union territory in a long time. Trump ran 12% ahead of McCain and 6% ahead of Romney. He had 6800 more votes than McCain and 5000 more votes than Romney. Trump did very well in the suburbs.

The 9th worst county by percentage for Trump was one he actually won due to third party defection. I’m going to call it the 3rd worst county for Trump overall by performance behind Washtenaw, and Kalamazoo. Kent County. I saw this one coming, and this county is why I could not predict that Trump would win the state. Trump got 48.30% here – the same as Saginaw County. Trump did 0.5% worse than McCain here and 4.7% worse than Romney. He got 377 less votes here than McCain and almost 8000 less than Romney. This county nearly cost him the election. Trump had about 30,000 less votes here than Bush did in 2004.  I have to really number crunch this county, but his problem was a massive cratering in Grand Rapids along with losing Kentwood and probably Wyoming.

The counties that Trump did worse than Romney by percentage are as follows. Most are very affluent, heavily social conservative, college areas, or two of the three.

  1. Kent – 4.7% worse (Grand Rapids area)
  2. Washtenaw – 4.4% (Ann Arbor)
  3. Ottawa – 4.2% (Holland)
  4. Leelanau – 3.5% (Next to Traverse City, wine country – many Chicago and Ann Arbor affluent transplants)
  5. Ingham – 2.1% (Lansing, East Lansing)
  6. Kalamazoo – 2.1%
  7. Grand Traverse  – 1.8% (Traverse City)
  8. Oakland – 1.8%
  9. Emmet – 1.2% (Petoskey, Harbor Springs – similar to Leelanau and Grand Traverse County)
  10. Midland – 0.7% (Dow Chemical – Midland was really tailor made for Romney, Trump did 5% better than McCain here)

The most improved counties over Romney by raw vote total. Notice the real mix of counties here includes some very blue areas.

  1. Macomb – 33,396 – This is the number one reason Trump won Michigan. Trump just fits Macomb County. – He cleaned up North Macomb, and also took D leaning Clinton Twp, swingish Fraser, swingish Lenox Twp, swingish St Clair Shores, swingish Utica, and swingish Sterling Heights (YUGE – 7000 votes) . He came within 1000 votes of taking normally 60% D Roseville. He held the dems to a 6000 vote win in Warren. It’s long been said that the GOP can’t win Michigan without winning Oakland and Macomb. That’s only partially changed, and only because of the yuge win in Macomb. Speaking of Northern Macomb County, much of that area is actually affluent, unlike the old Macomb reputation.
  2. Wayne – 14499 – I wish I knew where this was. My gut says downriver.
  3. Genesee – 12366 – Flint’s suburbs moved our way. Bigtime
  4. St Clair – 9796 – St Clair County went more Republican than Livingston County this year. That’s all that needs to be said. Obama won this county in 2008 as did Bubba Clinton. David Bonior won here for years. Bush’s 53% and Romney’s 52% was considered good. Trump got 62.90% Even the city of Port Huron went for Trump this year and that’s usually solid D. That’s like Obama winning Indiana in 2008.  Marine City leans dem and went 60% Trump. Swingish Kimball Twp went over 60%. Port Huron Twp 58%. Shane Hernandez won his state rep district easily, even taking the City of Port Huron as well. He partly rode the coattails and partly had a hometown effect. Shane’s a good guy with a real bright future.
  5. Monroe – 7662 – Monroe County is a lot like Macomb in its politics and usually votes in tandem. It’s a highly overlooked swing county with a bit of a dem downticket tradition. It went 58% for Trump. Bush’s 50.50% in 2004 was considered good. Obama won it twice. Trump even won the City of Monroe.
  6. Lapeer – 6303 – Lapeer County I thought had the potential to be another Livingston County at some point with Oakland spillover to Metamora. It was swingish downticket in the 90’s and had some union traditions from Flint area commuters. It really moved right in 04, but recoiled against McCain with 50%, barely winning. It moved towards Romney in 2012 showing that right-movement again. Trump got over 66% here, exceeding Livingston County.
  7. Livingston – 5582 – For all the talk about Trump bombing in affluent areas and educated areas, he didn’t bomb here. He set the raw vote record for my county with 65665 votes. Johnson did pick up 4% here which reduces the gains some, and the percentage is slightly lower than Bush in 04. 62.20% is in the normal low 60’s range here, and Trump did better than Romney (who was NOT a bad fit for my county) and McCain. I need to number crunch a bit, but my gut is that he bled a bit to Johnson in eastern part of the county, and cleaned up in the Fowlerville area. They loved Trump there from the beginning.
  8. Muskegon – 5078 – Trump cleaned up the suburbs here.
  9. Lenawee – 4077 – Swingish area that went 57.60% for Trump. Obama won it once, and nearly won it in 2012. It’s also Tim Walberg’s home and he does well here. I’d like to number crunch this area as Adrian is the home of a small college and is the D base of the county. I wonder if Trump actually won it. I’m almost positive swingish Tecumseh went for Trump just based on that 57.60% number. Bush got 54.60% and did respectable in Adrian in 04.
  10. Jackson – 3495 – Slightly R leaning county that went 57.20% for Trump. I’m not that surprised, although I wonder how Trump did in very socially conservative Spring Arbor (did he bleed) and in the strong democrat City of Jackson. Good candidate can get the low 40’s there. I’ll bet money that he easily won swingish Blackman Twp (correction workers) and Leoni Twp (union).

The most improved by percentage (a lot of NE lower peninsula counties):

  1. Ogemaw (West Branch) – 13.40% – NE Lower rural county with a lot of union tradition. Traditionally D, but moving our way. Trump got 65.70%, higher than Livingston. Obama won it in 08 and Gore won it.
  2. Oscoda (Mio) – 13.10% – A base county, but not usually 70%. Rural conservative populist with an Amish population. I bet the Amish voted this year.
  3. Gladwin – 12.80% – This swing county was a 65% Trump county that I believe Obama won in 08. I bet the corrections workers went heavily for Trump.
  4. Lake (Baldwin) – 12.50% – This democrat county slowly going our way until this year went 59.30% for Trump. Obama won it twice. Kerry won it. Gore won it. Clinton won it twice. Dukakis won it. It’s about 11% black which is high for rural Michigan. I wish I could number crunch this one and see what happened in the minority heavy areas (Yates Twp especially).
  5. Tuscola (Caro) – 12.10% – This is a lean R, but pro-union county. This is Mike Green territory. Pro-gun, pro-life, pro-union. It’s usually in the low-mid 50’s, but Trump got 66.60%
  6. Clare – 12.00% – This is a swing county that went for Gore and Obama 08. Trump got 63.10% this year, higher than Livingston County. It’s conservative populist.
  7. Montmorency (Atlanta) – 11.80% – This base R rural county went 69.80% for Trump. Union retirees probably lead the way.
  8. Lapeer – 11.60%
  9. Menominee – 11.60% – Menominee (city) is really basically part of  Northern Wisconsin in all but name only. The UP also in general took a big swing to the right. Combine the two, and it’s not a surprise what happened in Menominee County, outside of the top number being 62.30% for Trump. High 50’s would not be a shock. Beating my county is.
  10. Arenac (Standish) – 11.40% – This traditionally democrat county went 63.10%. If you told me Arenac would be more R than Livingston County, I’d laugh in your face for good reason. Obama won it in 08. Kerry won it. Gore won it. Clinton won it twice. Dukakis won it.

The thing is this – I think my county actually did its part. These D counties and slightly lean R counties didn’t beat us because we sucked. They just did that damn good. On one hand, it’s a slight pride wound, but on another, I’m quite happy about it because a lot of the people here are as conservative as my county. These aren’t social liberal areas. They voted democrat because they are for the little guy. I actually get that, and understand it – more and more as I get older. My own tradition is Irish Catholic. There are a LOT of ex-democrats in my (still) politically split extended family.

I didn’t even mention a few other interesting Trump won counties that deserve special mention.

  1. Gogebic (Ironwood) – The last time this county went R was 1972. Trump took it with 55%. It’s yellow dog territory and the home of the legend Joe Mack – the Robert Byrd/Ted Stevens of the Michigan State Senate. It finally flipped.
  2. Bay County – This was one I was keeping an eye on for a long time. It’s pro-union and votes that way, although it’s quite socially conservative. It’s Jim Barcia/Jeff Mayes/Charles Brunner territory. Trump finally flipped it with 53.50%. I’d love to number crunch this county and see what Bay City did. It’s been dem for POTUS  since 1984
  3. Saginaw County – Also dem since 1984. Trump won it with 48.30% sweeping the D rural areas (Lew Dodak territory) and running up the score in suburbia. Only the minority areas went Democrat.
  4. Shiawassee – This county drove me nuts since it is my neighbor and went for Obama twice. Trump got 56.50% here, which beat Bush’s 53% here. It took me a long time to get this populist county as I always wondered why it didn’t vote like us. Different commuters (Flint and lesser extent Lansing). That’s why. We (Livingston) got largely a mix of Oakland and Redford (then socially conservative democrat) spillover instead.
  5. Alpena – Trump got 61.90% in this former democrat stronghold. It’s moving our way, and Romney won it, as did Bush in 04. The D’s had the state rep seat for around 20 years due to unions.
  6. Isabella – Trump won a college town based county. 48.70%. He was the first to win it since 1988 I believe.

Lastly, the 65% club deserves special mention, as Michigan just doesn’t have counties not named Ottawa or Missaukee get there for Presidential races that aren’t Reaganesque waves. Northern Michigan is heavily represented here, as is the Thumb.

  1. Missaukee – The champs! They aren’t number 2 anymore. 73.80% Dutch tradition, but it’s also Northern Michigan so it’s more populist than Ottawa County.
  2. Hillsdale – Surprised me a bit, as I figured the college would be heavily “never Trump.” Walberg always ran ahead of moderate R’s there.
  3. Oscoda – NE lower Michigan R base county.
  4. Sanilac – Thumb base county
  5. Montmorency – NE lower base county.
  6. Kalkaska – NW lower populist base county.
  7. Osceola – NW lower base county.
  8. Luce – UP. Corrections officers swung heavily for Trump.
  9. Alcona – Lean R usually. More than that this year.
  10. Huron – Thumb. Same as Alcona otherwise.
  11. Newaygo – NW Lower.
  12. Branch (Coldwater) – Heart of Free Soil country. It’s a base area to begin with, but I wonder if the Arabic community in Coldwater went for Trump. I suspect a lot of Christian Arabs voted for Trump, especially after the Sterling Heights results are known.
  13. Tuscola – Thumb.
  14. Lapeer – Thumb.
  15. Otsego – Northern Lower. Large middle class retiree population.
  16. Ogemaw – NE Lower.  Union area that’s swingish.
  17. Gladwin – NE Lower. Swing county.
  18. Wexford- NW Lower base county.
  19. Dickinson – UP.


In short, Trump got votes from Up North that we didn’t know was possible with the population drops. He also won by winning counties that most thought we had no business winning. We can’t count on winning Saginaw and Bay Counties, or winning the City of Port Huron. That’s not normal here. You can argue it should be, and I would agree with that. I can’t call it a fluke, because this wasn’t a Reagan-Mondale election. Trump targeted Michigan populists in his campaign.

The concerning thing is that there was a major price to be paid for winning this year. I’ve been concerned with Oakland County for a long time. We shouldn’t lose Novi and Troy. We shouldn’t struggle in Rochester Hills. Birmingham I won’t put in that category due to his social liberalism. Troy I wouldn’t put in that category. Washtenaw is a lost cause, but we should get 35% there. Ingham should get 40%. The bleeding needs to be stopped. I think that could happen if Trump does a good job. Kent County can’t be under 55% either on a regular basis. It just can’t. I don’t know a better way to say it than that. Period.

The bright side of this is that Michigan flipped despite Kent County, Oakland County, and cratering in Washtenaw. The results in the rural areas are Reaganesque. Trump held his own in Livingston. He won blue counties. He won Macomb big. There’s no reason it can’t happen again. If Trump is a moderate conservative who can fight some of this outsourcing, this can go a long ways to building a RED firewall here in the heart of flyover country – the Midwest.



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.

The Path to Win (or lose) Michigan – Part 22-24 – Farm Belt and Up North – Update with Trump numbers



Post Trump Election comments in bold.


Part 22 – Farm Belt and rural not quite Up North (Blue) – This area is somewhat similar to Free Soil, although more political variety – Ionia, Montcalm, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, Gratiot, Isabella (outside of Union Twp and Mt Pleasant), Part of Clinton County (Bengal, Bingham, Dallas, Duplain, Essex, Greenbush, Lebanon, Riley, and Westphalia Twps) – 333942 – 90.2% White – 49.7% McCain 08.

Much of this area is tough to classify. Some of these areas are certainly farm areas of mid-Michigan, but I also put a combination of counties that I can’t quite put as “Up North” (which starts at Clare or past Bay County to me) although they are culturally more similar to Northern Michigan than the farm belt.  Some of the areas have other influences as well. There’s some Dutch influence to the west part of this region and a large (for Michigan) Latin American population in Oceana County. There’s heavy German heritage throughout the region. There’s college influences in Gratiot (Alma), Isabella (CMU), and Mecosta (Ferris St) counties. Mt Pleasant doesn’t have a large Chippewa population, although there’s a small reservation there that employed a lot of people due to the giant sized Soaring Eagle Casino. Montcalm County is home to Greenville which was a small industrial town made famous due to outsourcing as Electrolux closed down its factory. It also has some Kent County influences spilling over counteracting the union vote there.  With the exception of the central/western UP and some parts of the “sunrise” side of Up North, I’m probably least familiar with this part of Michigan outside of the US-127 corridor (which I am quite familiar). I don’t have family ties here, nor visit there often.

Snyder – 55790 Votes – 57.29% – Won by about 17,000

Romney – 76794 Votes – 54.85% – Won by about 16,000

Johnson – 58794 Votes  – 61.00% – Won by about 16,000

Bush 04 – 83885 Votes – 57.35% – Won by about 23,500

Cox –  52723 votes – 56.81% – Won by about 15,000

Trump – 89645 – 62.38% – Won by about 44,000

This was a rather consistent area overall although Johnson overperformed and Romney underperformed. Trump may have changed the game here. He got Livingston County type of numbers here.

The part of Clinton County here is a base area and is certainly farm country. It ranged from 60% (Snyder) to 66% (Johnson).  There’s still some state workers who commute to northern Clinton County, so that factored into the poorer numbers there for Snyder.  It’s more farm country here than state government country. Romney got 62%, Cox 64%, Bush 66%, and Johnson 68%. The swing township here is Duplain Twp, which went for Schauer, Obama 2012, Johnson, Bush, and Cox. A lot of the heavy GOP numbers are from heavily German Catholic areas of Westphalia and Dallas Twp. Trump got 67.20% in this part of Clinton County. He broke 80% in Westphalia and got 79% in Dallas Twp. He got the “Dutch” numbers here instead in the German Catholic areas.

Just north of there along US-127 is Gratiot County, which is Republican leaning (outside Alma) although Obama won it in 2008. It’s always been tough for me to figure out. It’s farms and small town. You have a small college (Alma) and some wind farms around Ithaca. St Louis had a prison so there’s corrections influence. On paper, I expect this to be a base area for R’s, but it’s competitive.  Is it CMU influence? Lansing? They aren’t super far from there, but they aren’t all that close either. Saginaw is to the east a ways, but it goes through blood red territory on the way to the blue areas. The numbers ranged from 51% (Snyder and Romney) to 58% (Johnson) with Bush getting close to 57% and Cox 55% There’s certainly a strong state worker influence here based on those numbers. Bush, Johnson, and Cox swept the county.  Snyder and Romney both lost Alma (Romney was smoked there – college effect), Ithaca, St Louis, and Sumner Twp.  I know nothing about Sumner Twp to make it stick out. It’s on the far west side of the county next to 57% R Ferris Twp in Montcalm County.  Areas that went for Romney, but not Snyder (State worker effect most likely) are Elba and New Haven Twps. Elba Twp is in the SE corner. New Haven Twp is on the west side south of Sumner Twp. Gratiot County was a 60% county for Trump. He swept the area, even winning Alma (by 3 votes). Sumner Twp was 62% for Trump, so that was a big flip. Ithaca was 58% for Trump, so that was a big flip. St Louis was 54%. This was a big area for Trump.

North of there on US-127 is Isabella County, which is a democrat leaning county due to  Central Michigan University. Outside of Mt Pleasant and Union Twp, it’s competitive. There’s still some university influence, but it is more farm based (and Casino base). Ruth Johnson did very well with 57% here, but the rest of them ranged between 50% (Romney) and 53% (Snyder). This is moving away from the same state worker influence that hurt him in Clinton County.  Johnson swept the area. The dems took Chippewa Twp four times. R’s ranged from 42-48% there. Johnson won it with 48%.  That’s a mix of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, casino, and university commuters. Denver Township north of there is less Chippewa, but is also democrat outside of Ruth Johnson’s astounding 57% there. R’s ranged from 43-44% there.  Coldwater Twp (Nw part of County) and Isabella Twp (north of town) went dem three times (Snyder won it).  Gilmore Twp is one of the few areas Romney won, but Bush and Cox both lost. I’m shocked that Trump won Isabella County overall. He did so by getting 58% in this part of Isabella County sweeping everything, even Chippewa and Denver Twps. 

West of there along US-131 is Mecosta County, home of Big Rapids. Big Rapids is known for Ferris State University, but unlike Isabella County, the area leans Republican. Ruth Johnson got 61% here, but the rest of the R’s ranged from 54% (Romney) to 56% (Cox).  The dems took Big Rapids three times as expected (Cox and Johnson won it), with the presidential candidates struggling there with 42% (Mitt) and 44% (Bush). Snyder did get 47%. Martiny and Sheridan Twp went dem four times. Those two areas are on the east side of the county next to each other.  I’m don’t know what makes them more dem than the rest of the area. They’ve been close outside of Martiny in 2002% for Cox (Cox had 42%). The rest of the county is base Republican territory. Mecosta was a blowout for Trump outside of Big Rapids. Trump got a respectable 44-45% there, considering his weakness in college towns. Despite that, he got 60% in the county. Martiny and Sheridan Twp were 55% and 58% Trump areas.

Montcalm County south of there is interesting. Bill Clinton won it (Greenville Unions), as did Bush twice. McCain lost it, but other than that, it’s gone our way, ranging from 54% (Romney) to 59% (Johnson). Bush got 56% and Snyder and Cox got 57%. There is a populist streak here, and it will be interesting to see how Trump does here. There’s also some strong Grand Rapids suburban/exurban commuter influences along US-131 which cuts through the West part of the county. Among the west part of the twp, Reynolds Twp went 60% for all except Mike Cox back in 02. Pierson twp was 60% for all. Maple Valley was 60%+ for all except Bush (who got 59%). Greenville, Evergreen,  and Belvidere Twp are swingish. The dems took Greenville three times (Peters, Obama, Kerry), and Evergreen (Obama and Peters) and  Belvidere Townships twice (Obama and Kerry) with a tie (Peters and Cox). Stanton went for Obama over Romney and is prone to wild swings, although R’s won it the other four times.  The three areas aren’t next to each other. Greenville is near the Kent/Ionia county borders. Evergreen is in the central-eastern part of the county. Belvidere is in the northern part of the county.  The rest of the area is largely base R areas for the most part, some areas more so than others. Trade’s a big issue with Greenville with the Electrolux plant closing around 2004. Montcalm County was tailor-made for Trump. 64% for Trump. NAFTA is still a big deal there with the Electolux situation. He won Greenville and the rest of the county easily.

South of Montcalm County is Ionia County. That’s mostly farms and prisons. It’s a base R area overall due to the Dutch and German populations. Romney had 56%, Snyder 58%, Cox had 58%, Bush 60%, and Johnson 62%. There is state worker and some union influence, although this area is socially conservative. Most of the area is base R. Snyder only lost Ionia and North Plains Twp. Ionia has unions, but I don’t know why North Plains Twp is so dem. Nobody won it. Part of the community of Hubbardston is there, but the township to the east is 60% R. Johnson and Bush won Ionia. Romney lost Belding (just south of Greenville) badly for some reason. My guess is unions because of Greenville, but that’s a guess. The rest of the county is a sweep for R’s outside of Ionia Twp where Cox tied Peters. Trump cleaned up big in Ionia County, getting well over 60% across the board outside of Belding (57%), Ionia (51%), and Portland closer to Lansing (51%). North Plains Twp was 61% Trump and a big flip.

West of Moncalm County is the very large (by area) Newaygo County which has lesser known M-37 run through it North to South. It has a lot of West Michigan and Up North influences. It is consistently strongly R, ranging from 57% (Cox) to 62% (Johnson) Bush and Romney got 58%. Snyder got 61%. Most of this area is 60%+R. One area went democrat every time by a big percentage, and that was Merrill Twp. That’s the only part Snyder and Johnson lost. There’s a sizable black population there. Big Prairie and Denver Townships went dem three times. Lincoln went for Obama and Peters. Troy went for Obama and Kerry. Lilley Twp went for Kerry and Peters. Beaver Twp went for Peters. Big Prairie Twp is in the SE Corner, but the rest of the dem/competitive areas are in the NW part of the township , part of a larger slightly dem leaning area. The fact that this county overall is close to 60% or over 60%R says a lot for the base areas here. Trump got 66% here and swept the county, even normally 65%D Merrill Twp. Big Prairie and Denver Twps were over 60% Trump, as was every municipality in the county outside of Merrill Twp which was 49% for Trump (where R’s normally get 35%). This is a small county, but Trump won it by about 9000 votes, almost his statewide margin.

West of there on the coast and US-31 is Oceana County, which is hard to classify between North or West MI so I put it here with other “transition zone” counties.  Outside of 2008 (Obama), it’s consistently slightly Republican around 54%, although Johnson and Snyder got 59%.  It’s an agricultural area with a lot of migrant workers and Mexican communities. Snyder swept the county, even heavily democrat Newfield Twp, which the others lost, most by double digits. Newfield is moving slightly in our direction however.  Newfield borders Denver Twp in Newaygo County and is part of that area. It’s the Hesperia area. Surprisingly considering Oceana County, it’s one of the whitest parts of the area. Johnson won all except Newfield Twp. Colfax, Crystal, and Ferry went dem three times.  Leavitt and Otto went for Kerry, but Romney won them. That’s all part of the same section connected with Newaygo County. The only heavily Mexican area there is Crystal Twp.  Shelby Twp and Hart have the higher Mexican populations, and they are more reliable R. I wonder what Trump will do there. Trump did well in Oceana County despite the Mexican population, getting 61%, winning democrat (but mostly white) leaning Newfield big with 58%. Crystal Twp was over 63% for Trump. Trump got normal R numbers in Shelby Twp. Trump won Hart as well, but was held to 52%, slightly higher than Romney’s win. I wonder how many Mexicans actually voted or are citizens there.

Most of the areas in the region are base areas. Trump got more out of it here, making up for his Dutch West Michigan struggles.

Part 23 – NW Lower (Green) – 399922, 93.8% White, 50.4% McCain. If I ran party organization for MRP or RNC, I’d be putting a lot of effort into “Up North” and “Da UP, eh?” and quit overlooking these areas. Our state house majority and state senate majority depends on it. A congressional seat depends on it. Our chances to win statewide are dependent on everywhere that isn’t the big city including these smaller populated areas (Cox won by 5500). The NW Lower is one of the two “Up North” regions. Up North” usually refers to the Northern lower peninsula, while the UP is the UP. There’s always an argument about where Up North begins. Some say Grayling, while others say Bay City. I usually put it with Clare. I generally put the counties West of US-127 (or I-75) here, although I put Crawford and Otsego in here with NW lower due to media markets and M-72/M-32 influence (to Traverse City and/or Petoskey).  It’s not a uniform region, but there are some patterns, trends, and countertrends. Two of the main roads here are US-31 and US-131. “Up North” in General moved significantly in our direction after 2000, although was still independent. It took a major swing against us in 2006 and 2008, but swung back in 2010 and stayed strong to a lesser extent in 2012 outside of parts of the Lake Michigan coast.  Snyder struggled to some extent in 2014 in areas since there are a lot of state workers here (particularly in corrections), many of which in these parts are otherwise conservative. Some areas I’m more familiar with than others. I have family in Crawford, Otsego, and Charlevoix counties, as well as Cheboygan County on the NE side.

Snyder – 85690 Votes – 57.60% – Won by about 27,000

Romney – 115980 Votes – 55.62% – Won by about 26,000

Johnson – 90574 Votes  – 60.48% – Won by about 39,500

Bush 04 – 121607 Votes – 58.13% – Won by about 36,000

Cox –  81263 votes – 59.54% – Won by about 41,000

Trump – 125665 votes – 58.90%, won by about 49000

Mike Cox’s 41,000 win is about eight times his statewide winning margin. That’s why I say this area should not be overlooked. Trump’s win was about 4.5 times his statewide margin. It would have been higher if it wasn’t for struggles in Grand Traverse County.

Starting on the far SW corner is Mason County just north of Oceana County.  It’s based around Ludington, a well known tourist town. It’s on the West Coast of Michigan and US-31 North and South and US-10 East to West. US 10 is largely the main East-West “cutoff” in much of the state for what is considered “Up North.” You have a mix of tourists, those retiring here for vacation homes, and townies. The Lake Michigan coast is trending away from us some (while Interior is moving in our direction – mostly), although I think part of that is a Chicago influence that may go away with Obama’s term limits. Mason County has been usually 54-55% R territory, although Johnson got 58% and Romney 51-52%. Obama won the county in 2008 and some dems have been competitive in the county for their state rep campaigns (even non D wave years). Dan Scripps was a one termer who won here in 2008 and lost re-election in 2010. He’s trying again this year with the open seat. He’s a green type, and that does play well here – on the coast.

The SE and Northern parts of Mason county have more democrat leanings. The SE portion is part of that same section of the state from NE Oceana/NW Newaygo that tend to vote at times for dems although not always. Branch (for Schauer) and Logan Twps (for Obama 2012) here went dem once. Eden Twp went for Peters over Mike Cox and Obama over Romney.  The northern part of the county is near Manistee, which is a more union area. Free Soil Twp is always dem.  Grant Twp went  dem for all except Johnson. Meade Twp just east of  Free Soil only went dem against Snyder. Sheridan Twp south of there also has some dem tilts at times in presidential years. Romney and Bush lost it.  The Ludington area itself usually goes R (Townships surrounding it like Pere Marquette and Amber strongly so). The town itself is usually close in the low 50’s for R’s, although Obama won it in 2012 over Romney.

Thanks to Trump and a good campaign from Curt VanderWall, we kept the swing state rep seat here against Scripps. Trump got 58% in Mason County. He won all parts of the county easily outside of Ludington. Free Soil and Grant Twps  are not always democrat anymore. Trump got 62% in Free Soil Twp and 53% in Grant Twp. Sheridan Twp was 59%. Ludington itself flipped back. Trump won it with 50% after Romney’s loss there.

East of there along US-10 is Lake County, historically the most democrat county in Northern Lower Michigan.  It has moved in our direction some, but will be the last northern lower county to flip in a presidential year. (Manistee County somehow went for Bush in 2004). There’s not a lot of money in Lake County and it also has a higher black population (11%) than most of northern Michigan due to Baldwin and Idlewild. Idlewild was supposed to be developed as a major black vacation area during segregation – and had promise until the 60’s, and Baldwin is next door. Most ot of the whites here are also dems, however.  It did go for Snyder in 2014 and Johnson in 2010. The big difference? Baldwin and Idlewild turnout (and improvement among whites here on the trend). Baldwin itself is not incorporated into a “city” but is put in two townships (Webber and Pleasant Plains). Idlewild is in Yates Twp, the most dem township in Northern Michigan by far. While they don’t have black majorities (Yates Twp 39%, Pleasant Plains 15.5%, Webber 20%), they are probably a majority of voters in presidential years, or are close to it based on the results. Snyder and Johnson got 48% and 46% in Pleasant Plains, 36% and 43% in Webber Twp, and 22 and 19% in Yates Twp. Cox was fighting tradition and got 37% in Pleasant Plains, 42% in Webber Twp, and 17% in Yates Twp. Bush got 39% in Pleasant Plains, 39% in Webber, and 19% in Yates. Romney 41% in Pleasant Plains, 30% in Webber, and 18% in Yates. The voting spreads are bigger differences than percentages. Would you rather lose Yates Twp by 150 votes or 250 votes?

The whiter (as in mostly 90%) areas are going more R lately but it’s traditional “conservative” D territory. Most of these areas are close. Eden Twp went D for all except Johnson. Romney and Snyder almost won it. Bush and Cox lost it by 15%. Peacock went dem three times, but is moving in our direction. It was narrow loss for Romney and Snyder/Johnson won it.  Same thing in Newkirk Twp which went for Snyder, Romney and Johnson.  Bush lost it by 8%, and Cox by over 10%. This county overall is very lowly populated, but every vote in this state is important  so this county should get some attention.

Trump was the first R to win Lake County since 1988 or 1984. He won everywhere except Webber Twp and Yates Twp, including Peacock and Newkirk twps. Newkirk was 67% for Trump. Peacock was 56% Trump. Eden Twp 63% Trump. The areas were more minorities were tougher territory, but Trump did win Pleasant Plains Twp with 50% Webber Twp was a 15% improvement over Romney with 45%. He didn’t win it, but he wasn’t supposed to win it. Yates was a blowout as usual, but not to the same degree. 29% is very good for an R in Yates Twp compared to the normal under 20% numbers. This was a very small county, but it was a 1500 vote swing. These add up to a win.

East of there along US-10 is Osceola County, one of the main base regions of the GOP here with Missaukee and Wexford Counties. Osceola is along the US-131 corridor and a rural county between Cadillac (Wexford County) and Big Rapids (Mecosta County). It’s a consistent 59% GOP County, although Cox got 61% and Johnson 65%.  All of the municipalities voted GOP in all five of the races covered here.  What’s key here is getting the vote out. Trump got almost 70% here and a 4500 vote spread out of this small county. That’s all that needs to be said here.

Northeast of there is Missaukee, the 2nd most GOP county in the state by percentage behind Ottawa voting in the high 65%+ range. There’s a high Dutch population here. One democrat however did win here. State Rep Joel Sheltrown, who was a social conservative and legitimately pro-2nd Amendment supporter.  It’s low populated and avoids much of the vacation traffic as the main North South Highways (31, 131, 127, 75, 23) avoid the county.  M-55 is the only real major road there and goes east/west. It’s a heavily GOP area, although some areas more than others. There’s an L shape area where R’s almost always get 70% or more much like most of Ottawa County, even Romney.  Richland, McBain, Aetna, Clam Union, and and Riverside Townships. They always carry the day in the county, even in bad years.  The rest of the county outside of Holland Twp is usually base R.  Holland Twp on the Roscommon County border leans democrat, but always very narrowly. Johnson won it. The others lost it by either one vote or two votes every time. Trump struggled in Grand Rapids Dutch areas, but this was Trump’s best county by percentage of 74% with a win by 3800 votes in this very rural county.

West of Missaukee County along M-55 is Wexford County. Cadillac is the “anchor town” of this interior region where US-131 and M-55 meet.  It’s another base county  and becoming more and more important.  The numbers ranged from 56% for Romney to 63% for Johnson. Bush and Cox both got 59% and Snyder 58%. Cox lost Slagle Twp. Snyder notably lost three townships. Boon, Slagle, and Henderson. They are very lightly populated areas, so it only dropped his numbers slightly below Bush and Cox’s numbers. I think it is a state worker or school worker dynamic. State or school workers despise Snyder. Trump got 65% here, running almost 10% ahead of Romney. His worst spot was Boon Twp and Cadillac, both with 59% – which was higher than Romney got in the entire county.

West of there back to the coast is Manistee County which is a strong union county along US-31. It’s a democrat leaning area with some union strength and light industry. It’s a swingish to light blue like Lake County, but for different reasons than race.  It ranged from 46% for Romney to 53% for Johnson. Bush won it by 23 votes with 49% (after losing it in 2000) and Cox won it with 51%. Snyder had 47%. I’m not sure if this county is moving away from us a bit, or if we had two bad fits for the county in 2012 and 2014. I’m also not sure if there’s the same Chicago influence here as there is in the Ludington or Leelanau areas.  2016 will be interesting here.  The southern part of the county near Manistee is blue, while the northern part is mostly R, outside of Springdale Twp which swings.  While there are a lot of dem areas in the county (Flier Twp, Manistee City/Twp, Stronach Twp, and Norman Twp all in the same area went dem four out of five elections here), it’s mostly not 55%+ territory. Kerry got 55% in Flier Twp. Obama got 58% in Manistee, 55% in Manistee Twp, and 56% in Stronach Twp.  Schauer got 55% in Manistee Twp and 56% in Stronach Twp. Cox surprisingly won the City of Manistee, which even Ruth Johnson didn’t do. This is tough territory that really needs to be won for the GOP to win statewide. Snyder didn’t need it to win due to being very strong in Washtenaw County, but Cox and Johnson won here in their statewide wins.

Manistee flipped back to the R’s for the first time since 2004’s narrow win for Bush. Trump won it with almost 55% I thought this county was moving away from us, but it’s probably more of bad fits for the county. Trump won everywhere in the county outside of the City of Manistee which he got 46%, losing by 2 votes. There’s no shame there. Only Mike Cox won the city and Obama got 58% there. Trump got 57% in Stronach and almost 53% in Manistee Twp, 51% in Flier Twp, and 65% in Norman Twp. The rest of it was base R outside of Arcadia Twp, which Trump lost a bit of ground from Romney, winning it by 3 votes. Overall though, Trump did very well in a tough county, and deserves a lot of coattail credit for the 101st District. 

North along US-31 is Benzie County. It may be moving away from us, but is usually narrowly Republican. I’m not 100% sure, but I think there’s some Chicago influences all along parts of the coast and some Ann Arbor types moving to that area (at least Leelanau which I’m more familiar with). There’s the Interlochen Center of the Arts nearby (in Southern Grand Traverse County, but Frankfort is closer). It’s also the south end of Sleeping Bear Dunes, a National Park.  Cox got 55%, Bush 54%, Johnson 54%, Snyder 53%, and Romney 51%. The big R strength is Lake, Inland, and Almira Townships which is about 60%R Territory, much higher than the rest of the area. Inland and Almira Twps are close to Traverse City, which has strongly R suburbs. Lake Twp is on the coast north of the more democrat Frankfort area.

Frankfort went for the R’s in gubernatorial years, but D’s in presidential years, swinging hard against against Romney by 12%. Just south of there is the tougher Gilmore Twp (Beluah) which went democrat every time by 20% (except 04 where Bush lost it by 12%). Platte Twp went R very narrowly for Cox and Bush, but swung after 2006. Even Johnson lost it.  Snyder lost it. Romney lost it by double digits. Platte is between Almira and Lake Twp, so I don’t know why that flipped compared to the others.  Crystal Lake and Homestead Twps swing a bit, but out of these 5 races, only Romney lost them. Joyfield Twp went R except for Snyder.  Crystal Lake is north of Frankford. Joyfield and Homestead Twps are along US-31. Most of this county is narrowly R or narrowly D outside of Gilmore, sometimes Platte, and sometimes Frankfort.  I’m not familiar with this area much outside of Sleeping Bear Dunes, so I can only speculate a bit with Chicago, Ann Arbor, and Interlochen.

Trump got 54% here, so he got back up to Bush’s numbers. This surprised me a bit, but I based my instincts more on nearby Traverse City and Leelanau than anywhere else. I’ve driven through Benzie County, and that’s about it. Trump did lose a lot of ground in base R Lake Twp (51%), but did very well in Inland Twp and Almira Twp. He lost ground in Blaine Twp as well, which is also on Lake Michigan. Trump appealed to the inland areas, not the coast. Romney lost Homestead Twp, but Trump got 58% there. That’s where he made up the ground. Frankfort, Gilmore, and Crystal Lake were D once again. Gilmore Twp was a 12pt loss, which wasn’t as bad as some others. Frankfort was a Romney level loss. Swinish Colfax Twp was a big win for Trump, going 2-1 there. Joyfield was another gain area for Trump. In the end, it all evened out here, and Trump did better than Romney.

North of there along the coast is Leelanau County (Leelanau Penninsula) along the Traverse City area. A small part of Traverse City is in this county.  It is formerly a base R moving a bit away from us with a lot of Ann Arbor and Chicago people moving there.  It’s most known for the Lake and the wineries (Californians will laugh at that). It’s a great place to take a lady. On the east side is Grand Traverse Bay and the west side is Lake Michigan. Cox nearly got 60% here leading the pack winning everywhere except the small portion of Traverse City in the county. The other candidates ironically won that portion. Johnson and Snyder got 56% and Bush 55%. Romney 52-53%. Obama won this county in 2008. Johnson and Snyder only lost Empire Twp over by Sleeping Bear. Bush lost Cleveland, Empire, and Leelanau Twps. Leelanau Twp is the top of the penninsula (Northport) and Cleveland Twp is the township on Lake Michigan past Sleeping Bear. Romney lost those, and also Kasson Twp.  The area on the eastern side close to Traverse City is still a base area for R’s, but Bingham, Leland, and Elmwood Twps, aren’t 60% in presidential years anymore, closer to 55%. That as much of the issue here as the Empire Twps. Kasich I think would have been a good fit for this area. Snyder I think was on the gubernatorial level.

Trump struggled here. I didn’t think he’d win Leelanau County (Michigan’s wine country), but he survived it with 48.61% winning it by about 450 votes. Obama won it in 2008. The base R’s I saw slipping away slipped more. Bingham was 55%. Leland 50%. Elmwood 51%. Trump lost Cleveland Twp, Empire (badly), and Leelanau Twp (badly). Glen Arbor flipped to the D’s. after being about 56% Romney. Suttons Bay flipped after being 50-51% Romney. I can see this county continuing to be trouble for R’s in the future with Ann Arbor and Chicago influences. This started moving away from us long before Trump was on the scene. 

Southeast of Leelanau is the politically split but mostly GOP base area of Grand Traverse County. This is the anchor of Northern Lower Michigan.  Traverse City is quite liberal, although not as much as its Ann Arboresque reputation.  It is the “big city” in North Michigan. This isn’t an 75-25 city however (closer to 55-45D). The suburbs are quite conservative.  There’s also Old Mission Penninsula here, part of Michigan wine country.  Cox got 62%, Bush 59%, Johnson 60%, Romney 55%, and Snyder 58% in the county.  The city itself was the only area that went dem at all, going D four out of the five races.  The concern here isn’t really Traverse City as much as the GOP base areas. Outside of the city itself, Bush and Cox ran 59%+ everywhere except Green Lake and Union Twps.  Romney was held under that in a lot of the area, and held to 55% in Garfield and Long Lake Twps (which border the city). Traverse City itself ranged from 41% for Romney, 45% for Johnson and Snyder, to 48% for Bush and 50% for Cox (who won it). The city is moving away from us but it’s not Ann Arbor, at least yet. We need some extra effort there however in the suburbs.

Trump was held to 52.69% in Grand Traverse County. He bled a bit here as well, especially in the highly affluent areas, along with socially liberal Traverse City (although the rest of the county is moderate conservative). The D’s didn’t flip any of the suburbs, but Trump only got 35% in Traverse City, 6% less than Romney. The D’s did break 40% in Garfield, Long Lake and Peninsula Twp’s. Trump was held to 50% in Peninsula Twp (I’m surprised he won it). Garfield and Long Lake were trouble for Romney with 55%. Trump got 52% in Garfield and Long Lake. Acme, East Bay, and Green Lake Twps dropped to the high 50% range (which isn’t good.). Trump still won the county by 5500 votes which was almost the same as Romney (population growth accounts for percentages changes), but it’s dwarfed by Bush’s 9200 vote win here. This will be one county to watch in the future.

East of there along M-72 is very rural Kalkaska County. Kalkaska is the center of that region at US-131 and M-72. It’s mostly a “drive through” county, either from Cadillac to Petoskey or Grayling to Traverse City. The Manistee River is a major trout river. The NW is getting a bit of development near the Torch Lake area (most of which is in Antrim County) and close to Williamsburg and Acme (Gd. Traverse suburb).  I’ve heard there has been democrat history here, but I haven’t seen much in the time I’ve been in politics with the exception of Bart Stupak. If it is, it’s locally or from the 1990’s.  It’s been consistently around 60%R at the top of the ticket, but Snyder bled a bit getting 57%. Much of his bleeding went to third parties, since Schauer did worse than Obama. The dems didn’t win any municipality in Kalkaska County of the races here. Trump swept Kalkaska County as well and got 69% here. He didn’t get less than 54% anywhere, and outside of Blue Lake (one spot he bled), didn’t drop below 62%

East of there along M-72 is Crawford County and Grayling.  I know this area very well.  US-27 and I-75 meet  in the county.  It’s another very low populated county.  It’s most known for Camp Grayling, a large National Guard base, and the Au Sable River which is famous for fly fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. There’s also hunting and snowmobiling here and a growing retirement community. It’s moderately conservative, strong on 2nd Amendment, but there is a bit of a green streak with anything involving the rivers for obvious reasons. It’s not unwinnable for dems (Alpena area moderate dems have won state rep races countywide here), but it’s a lean R county usually going around 55-57%.  A lot of the people seen here do not vote here, but downstate.  The dems didn’t take a municipality in any of the races covered here. Trump got 64% here and ran over 60% everywhere except Grayling itself where he got 58%, still higher than generic R.

North of there along I-75 is Otsego County which is a very strong R county. Snyder and Romney got 59% and the rest got 60%+ I know this area well as well.  Gaylord is the main anchor of this area and is growing a bit. It’s where M-32 and I-75 meet.  This area seems to be growing more than other parts of North Michigan with a lot of retirees moving there.  There’s a lot of outdoor rec here as well. Hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, skiing (Cross country and downhill at neighboring county’s Boyne Mountain) and golfing. A lot of lakes up here as well. There’s some fracking tradition here as well so energy is a bigger issue here than elsewhere in the state. It’s about an hour from Mackinac, 30 minutes to Petoskey, and 30-60 to Traverse City.  The dems didn’t take a municipality in any of the races covered here either. Screwing with energy and guns doesn’t sell in Otsego County. Trump got 66% here, improved everywhere, and did not get under 62% in any municipality. This area is growing as well, so there’s the potential for more gains here. Trump won it by 4700 votes instead of 2400.

West of there is Antrim County, which is one of the most GOP counties in the state usually running with Hillsdale and Allegan for 4th place by percentage (most often it is Ottawa 1st, Missaukee 2nd, Livingston 3rd) unless a Bart Stupak is on the ballot.   There’s two parts. The US-131 side on the interior and the US-31 side on the coast. It’s most known for Torch Lake, Michael Moore’s home.  Torch Lake is millionaire country.  Torch Lake runs north and south for about 20 miles and is one of the most well known lakes in Michigan. Elk Lake is another well known lake just South of Torch Lake. US-31 runs west of Torch Lake . US-131 runs northeast through the interior of the county going through Mancelona, and north toward Boyne (Charlevoix County) which is more rural. M-32 cuts through south of Boyne to the more historically (light) industrial East Jordan area. East Jordan is in Charlevoix County, but Jordan Twp is in Antrim County and is very light red. Dems win it in a bad year.  This is a major base county by percentage in Northern Michigan and quite important. Mike Cox in a low turnout year won it by 2500 votes. That was 1/2 of his statewide win. Bush won it by 3300 and Romney 2700. This county turns out to vote often. Everyone got over 60% here. Antrim’s  went 62% for Trump, but it was a big of improvements and bleeding. He struggled compared to most R’s by Torch Lake and Lake Michigan, but did very well inland. Jordan Twp was 60% instead of the low 50’s, but Torch Lake Twp was 57% instead of over 60%. Mancelona was almost 70% Trump, but Elk Rapids was only 55%. Trump still won the county by 4000 votes instead of 2800.

North of there also with the two parts is Charlevoix County with the US-131 and US-31 sides.  I’m familiar with this county a bit as well.  It’s a base GOP county, but not to the same degree as its neighbors (Emmet, Antrim) to the North and South. It usually goes in the high 50’s, although Ruth Johnson broke 60% here. The dems have some strength in St James Twp (D in presidential years, R in state years) and Hudson Twp (Peters won it over Cox). St James Twp is Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. I don’t know anything about it beyond that. Hudson Twp is in the SE portion of the county and very rural. Charlevoix itself tends to shift 5pts between presidential and gubernatorial elections (both Bush/Romney). The township did not shift that much, except in Romney’s case.  There is a bit of a Chicago influence here on the coast, going back to Hemingway’s time.  The big landmark here is Lake Charlevoix which separates much of the coast and inland areas (although that lake could be ‘coast’ in general as it connects to Lake Michigan in Charlevoix). The south arm of the lake goes to East Jordan, known for East Jordan Iron Works. You might have seen their sewer manhole covers. It’s slightly Republican, as is Boyne City on the east part of the lake. Boyne City is very seasonal and dependant on tourism in the summer (lakes) and winter (Boyne Mountain ski resort). Outside of an uptick with Ruth Johnson’s 59% there, it votes with East Jordan. Boyne Valley Twp is swingish to narrowly R. That’s Boyne Falls, the home of Boyne Mountain. Very seasonal and tourist dependent. The recession took a beating on that area. The big 60% areas are on the south shore of Lake Charlevoix NW of East Jordan. Marion, and Norwood Twps. Those are generally inline with the Antrim County townships south of there.  One of the other notable townships that is also 60%(except for Romney and Snyder) is Melrose Twp. That’s the home of another famous lake (thanks to Hemingway), Walloon Lake. Walloon Lake is the border of Emmett and Charlevoix Counties. US-131 and M-75 (not to be confused with I-75 which goes in Emmet County) go by Wallon Lake.

Charlevoix County went for Trump with 59.54% Trump improved about 3% on Romney due to gains inland. Boyne Valley Twp improved 11%. East Jordan broke 60%. Even Charlevoix itself wasn’t as bad as many coastal towns going 51-52% for Trump, about a 1% bleed from Romney.

North of there is Emmet County. US-31 and US-131 meet in Petoskey which anchors the county in the SW portion on the coast. It then goes up to the Mackinac Bridge. It is usually a strong base county, but D’s have made inroads here with the right candidates. Bart Stupak is one. The other was Gary McDowell. Bush won the county in 2004 by 3500 votes.  In the state rep race the same year. The R candidate for state rep won the county by 500 votes over the dem who was Gary McDowell (nearly became congressman in 2012). McDowell won the county in 2006 narrowly, and easily in 2008. Everyone here outside of Mitt got over 60%. Romney got 58%. Bush 60%. Cox, Snyder and Johnson 62%. The dems ddidn’t win any municipalities here of the five races looked at, but did come close.  Romney really struggled in Petoskey (resort town with a lot of money), barely winning it. Romney got 50% there. Bush got 53%. The rest got 56-57%. Romney did rebound from Bush however in highly affluent Harbor Springs, getting 55% to Bush’s 51%. The townships there next to Harbor Springs however were stronger for Bush (62 and 66%) than for Romney.   Snyder got 60% and is a perfect fit there.  Most of the super rural areas are lean R, but not overwhelmingly as you’d expect in a 60% county. Most of the major 60%+ areas are the townships clustered north of Petoskey along US-31 (until Littlefield Twp and Alanson) and branching northwest to Harbor Springs. West and Little Traverse Twps, Littlefield Twp, Friendship Twp, Resort Twp, and Springvale Twps are all 60%+ every time. Most of the population of the county is there between Petoskey and Harbor Springs. The rest is extremely rural, both on the coast, and inland. If you want to see a scenic drive and have time, take M-119 Lakeshore Dr from Harbor Springs to Mackinac City going through Wilderness State Park. It’s an apt name  The rest of the area further north leans R as well, although usually the lower to mid 50’s. The main route past Petoskey is US-31 which goes between Petoskey and Mackinac City. Pellston (Maple River/McKinley Twp borders) is a village that is the coldest place in Michigan. It’s also known for the “main” airport in Northern Michigan. Needless to say, flights are very expensive there. The northern end is Mackinac City, split between Cheboygan and Emmet Counties. The portion here is Watwatam Twp which was 60%+ for all except Romney who was probably bad a fit for that area, which doesn’t have the money of the townships outside of Petoskey, parts of Walloon Lake, and Harbor Springs.

Emmet County went 56.55% for Trump. He bled here to 3rd parties since his vote total was similar to Romney’s.  The difference between Emmet and Antrim counties are the distribution of votes coastal vs inland and base issues among coastal R’s. Petoskey went D. Harbor Springs only went 52% for Trump. Trump won the rest of the areas, but not by the normal margins. This is more Jason Allen or even Dan Benishek Country than it is for a Macomb County style of rep.

Overall, this is mostly a base area, but with some concern locations where we need to see if it’s a case of bad candidates or a long term issue. Manistee County has some D roots and really moved against us in 2012. Romney was a horrible fit there, but is that a case of a revolting candidate for Michigan blue collar voters?  The resort towns (Petoskey, Ludington, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Leelanau County in general) need to be watched. There’s some Chicago influence, and with Obama off the ballot, may go well for us. I don’t see those areas as Trump friendly, but  even Bush held his own there. It’s something we need to keep an eye on. Traverse City itself is going to be more and more trouble likely, but those townships by it should counteract it – if the bleeding is controlled. If TC turns into a 60-40 town, that’s going to be trouble for the state rep district. The 101st State Rep race here will be one to watch, as will the Jack Bergman/Lon Johnson race for Congress. This area doesn’t have the population of SE Michigan, but it is just as important, especially for state rep control. Up North cost us – and won us the state house in 2006/2010.

Trump was a better fit for the NE lower peninsula than the western part, but even on the western side, we can’t discount the interior votes and even D leaning places like Manistee. Even taking Leelanau, Petoskey, and Traverse City on the chin, he won Manistee County and did better than Bush, who did quite well in this region.


Part 25 – NE Lower (Green)  – 227116 – 96% White, 49.6% Obama 08 – This is one of the two “Up North” regions. ” It’s historically been a swingish area that likes social moderate-conservative dems, but not the John Kerry types. This is more Bart Stupak and Joel Sheltrown territory. I’m not sure Sheltrown is even really a dem anymore. He may  have gone independent. This is an area that is pro-gun, pro-life, and supports working people.  A lot of union members retired up here. It’s more blue collar than the Lake Michigan side and has less affluent retirees. There’s arguments where Clare and Roscommon Counties (Northern Central MI) would go. Culturally they are more like the NE lower peninsula, so I put them here instead of NW lower (and Crawford/Otsego I put in the NW lower). Alpena County will really interest me this year with Trump for various reasons I’ll get to. There is a lot of declining population here due to lack of jobs, but there is a growing retiree population. Tourism is the big industry. There’s a lot of German, Polish, Irish, Yankee, and French Canadian populations here.

Snyder – 44304 Votes – 52.66% – Won by about 7,300

Romney – 63938 Votes – 53.18% – Won by about 9,200

Johnson – 48533 Votes  – 56.18% – Won by about 16,000

Bush 04 – 66857 Votes – 52.32% – Won by about 7,300

Cox –  42775 votes – 49.51% – Won by about 1,500

Trump – 77683 votes – 64.14% – Won by about 40,000

This area was a longtime haven for socially moderate to conservative populist democrats. Most of them voted for Trump. You can see the trends, but it exploded this election.

We’ll start in Clare County, often nicknamed the “Gateway to the North.” US-127 goes through it from Lansing to Grayling, and US-10 goes  East/West from Bay City to Ludington. It’s a traditionally somewhat democrat swing county moving in our direction. It went for Gore, Posthumus, Cox, Bush, Granholm, Obama, Johnson, Romney, and Snyder. Of the five races here looked at, Cox got 48% (and won by 68), Bush 49% (won by 100), Snyder 50%, Romney 51%, (although Bush had more votes) and Johnson was the outlier with 57%. Up North really turned against the D’s after 2010, and started that direction around 2004. In 2002, there was an open state rep seat covering Clare, Gladwin,  Arenac, and I believe Northern Bay County. In a supposed upset, the D took the seat. That D voted pro-gun, but also voted against a gay marriage ban in 2003 or 2004. That was the wrong district for that. This district doesn’t like those democrats. The R’s won the state rep seat and have hung on to it since 2004.

Romney lost 6 municipalities despite not being on paper a good fit for the area. That’s actually the best of the candidates outside of Ruth Johnson. Bush only won 5 and Cox won 8. Bush won the county because there were a handful of bigtime R areas here (while most of the county was dem). Bush got 60% in three small townships, and Grant Township surrounding Clare is a strong R area (56%) with a large (for the area) population. Four areas went dem 4 times. Most of the county went dem two or three times. Most of the dem areas aren’t 55%+ areas, although Obama and Kerry got 58% in low populated Summerfield Twp. Peters got 56% in Franklin and 55% in Lincoln townships. I don’t know as much about Clare as I do some of the other counties Up North. It’s a very working class area traditionally with a fairly high poverty rate (which I think is part of its dem heritage). There’s a famous Cops and Doughnuts business that originated there. Neighboring Gladwin is a center for corrections so there’s union traditions in the area. There’s an Amish community in the county, and I suspect that’s a reason for a couple of the major smaller R townships that are 60%+ R. This is one of many tough counties in the area. Trump got 63.52% in Clare County. Romney’s 51% in 2012 was actually considered good here. He got 52% in swingish Clare itself, and got over 59% in every other municipality, flipping 6 of them. Gore won this county.

East along M-61 is Gladwin County, most known for the prison. It’s another swing county like the rest of the group here (Clare, Arenac, Ogemaw, Iosco and Roscommon) although R’s win it more often than Clare, Ogemaw or Arenac. Cox lost this county in 2002, but the other four won it. It’s moving our way like much of up North. It’s a working class socially conservative pro-union area. Like neighboring Clare, Bush had more votes than Romney, but Romney had a better percentage. Cox had the lowest percentage at 48% (losing), followed by 51% Bush, 53% for Romney and Snyder, and 55% for Johnson. The more rural parts were more dem than the town (Gladwin) itself.  Gladwin (city and Twp) is actually quite Republican as is Butman and Sage townships which are more populated. The only “high populated” dem leaning area was Billings Twp which went dem 4 out of 5 times. Billings is a township on the Tobacco River. That’s all I know about it.  The east side of the county is significantly more democrat, like it’s neighboring county (Arenac). Gladwin went 65% for Trump. The only area where Trump got less than 60% was Beaverton (56%). D leaning Billings Twp was 61% for Trump.

Arenac County is stubbornly narrowly democrat leaning but starting to go our way. It’s just north of Bay County, so there’s more union influence here. Standish is corrections area. Bay County is UAW. The main thing people notice with Arenac is where US-23 and I-75 split. US-23 goes around the Lake Huron shore as a non-expressway highway. I-75 goes northwest towards Grayling where it meets with US-127 and then goes north to the Mackinac Bridge. Romney and Bush had almost the same number of votes here. Bush had about 20 more, but lost the county to Kerry by 5 votes. Gore won it as well. Romney beat Obama by 350. Cox did the worst here with 45%, then Bush 49%, Snyder 50%, Romney 51%, and Johnson 54%. Standish Twp (not City which goes R) and Omer are dem every time. Deep River Twp (Sterling) and Arenac Twp (surrounding Omer) went D 4 of the five times here. The NE part of the County along with Adams Twp, Standish, and Au Gres went R every time. The D’s only took Au Gres Twp, Sims Twp, and Mason Twp once.  This will continue to be a tough county, but like rural Bay County, it is starting to flip some. Trump got 64% in this traditional D (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama 08) county. Trump’s worst area was Standish Twp where he got 58%. Romney lost it. Deep River and Arenac Twps were 62% and 66% for Trump. They are usually D. I’m going to be repeating this narrative quite a bit since most of these counties all have the same story. The moderate D’s here voted for Trump.

NE of here along US-23 is Iosco County. It’s story is similar in a lot of ways to the other counties in this group. Cox did the worst here and lost Iosco County.  Gore won it as well. By percentage, Cox got 46%, Romney 51% Bush 52%, Snyder 54%, and Johnson 55%.  The only area Johnson lost was the “city” of Whittemore which went D every time.. Burleigh Twp surrounding Whittemore went D for all except Johnson, as did Grant Twp northeast of there. The Tawas area by Lake Huron (Baldwin Twp, Tawas City, East Tawas, Tawas Twp) went R every time.  Au Sable Twp has some dem leanings still, but is moving in our direction. Interestingly, Bush did his best due to Tawas numbers. Romney did better by winning those rural areas on the west side narrowly that Bush lost. They won for different reasons. This area is still important for State Rep, State Senate, and statewide ramifications. Trump got 62.50% in Iosco County and did got get less than 59% in any municipality. Burleigh Twp was 59% Trump. Whittemore was 59%. Grant Twp went almost 63%. Au Sable was 59.88% He didn’t bleed in Tawas area either and increased those margins. 59% in Tawas City. 71% in Tawas Twp. This is Trump Country after being a Gore county in 2000.

West of here along M-55 is Ogemaw County. I-75 goes here NW of Standish. M-33 goes north through here from Alger towards Atlanta.  West Branch is the anchor along I-75 and a stop for outlet shopping and fast food, often on the way further north. Rose City is the other “city” along M-33. I use city in quotes since it has about 650 people. The biggest population spot is Mills Township although West Branch City/Twp combined have more people. Bush won by 240 and Romney by 650, but Bush actually had more votes.  Cox lost the county by 400 and was the only one of the four to lose it overall.  Cox got 46%, Bush 51%, Snyder and Romney 52%, and Johnson 54%.

Mills Twp (Skidway Lake) is a D stronghold here, consistently 54-56% D (60% against Cox). It also has a higher population than most of the rest of the county and puts candidates 150 (Gubernatorial) and 250 (presidential) votes in the hole off the bat in the county.  I don’t know anything about Mills Twp. I’ve been to West Branch. I’ve been through Rose City. I’ve never been to Skidway Lake or Mills Twp. Most of the eastern portion of the county is more D. The West Branch and Rose City areas lean R. Interestingly, Snyder was the only one to lose Churchill Twp, and Romney was the only one to lose the City of West Branch.  Outside of Mills Twp, most of the area is going our way, although I’m interested is seeing what happens in West Branch (city) and Churchill Twp after the Snyder/Romney results. Trump got 65.73% in Ogemaw County, and did not get less than 55% anywhere. West Branch was his only municipality where he got under 61%, and that was a Romney flip. Mills Twp, that D stronghold? Trump got 63%. I never expected that. 51% would have been very impressive there. This was also Gore County in 2000.

West of there is Roscommon County. Roscommon is swingish like the rest of the area, although Mike Cox won there. Bush and Romney won it by similar margins, but Romney again had less raw votes than Bush here.  Bush and Romney got 51%, Cox 52%, Snyder 53%, and Johnson 54%. Gore won this county in 2000 and Obama won it in 2008. Richfield Twp (St Helens) is the major D area here. Au Sable Twp has few people, but goes D sometimes as well. Romney lost Markey Twp as well (NE Houghton Lake). I sometimes drive through Richfield going to a family cottage east of Grayling. I don’t know why Mills Twp is so D. There isn’t a lot of money in St Helens, but that’s not unique to North Michigan. Roscommon County in general isn’t a wealthy area, but there is Houghton and Higgins Lakes, as well as one of the Au Sable River branches and tourism. Roscommon is the major town.  The major attraction in St Helens is Lake St Helens and part of an Au Sable River branch. Outside of Mills Twp, this is an R leaning county. Trump got 62.37% here winning all municipalities. His worst and only one under 60% was Au Sable Twp which was 58%, much higher than usual for R’s. Richfield Twp – the big D stronghold? 62% for Trump. This is another Gore county.

NE of Roscommon County and North of Ogemaw County is the very rural Oscoda County, with 8,500 people.  The only main highways through it are M-33 (North South) and M-72 (East-West). Mio (split among several townships) is the main community. The main feature here is the Au Sable river running through the county.  There’s an Amish Community in the county along M-33 near Mio. This is a solid R county.  It’s mid to upper 50’s territory Snyder had 54%,  Cox and Romney 57%, Bush 58%, and Johnson 60%. Dems were swept out, but almost took Mentor Twp.  Most of the county is in the 53-55%, but Comins Twp (part of Mio and all of Fairview) is 67% territory. There is an Amish community there, and I suspect the Amish there vote based on their numbers. This was heavy R territory to begin with, but the only difference for Trump here is that the 60% Amish leaning area was in the 70% range, while the lean R areas were in the upper 60% range. Trump got 69.99%.

East of there on M-72 is Alcona County. It meets with US-23 on the Lake Huron Coast at Harrisville. It a lean R county (top of ticket) moving further in our direction. 52% for Cox, 55% for Bush, 57% Snyder, 58% Romney, 61% Johnson.  Unlike much of North Michigan, Romney got more votes than Bush here.  Dems had won Hawes Twp, Harrisville, Millen Twp, and Curtis Twp at times, but Romney swept the county moving in our direction. 67.99% was Trump’s number in Alcona County. It’s moving in our direction anyway, although I expected high 50’s  more than high 60’s.

Northwest of there centered around M-32 and M-33 is Montmorency County. This is elk country and extremely rural. Atlanta (unincorporated, mostly Briley Twp) is the county seat and the elk capital of Michigan. This area is most known for the outdoors. The D’s were swept here. R numbers ranged from 54% for Snyder, 55% for Cox, 58% for Romney, 59% for Bush, and 61% for Johnson. Romney did have 350 votes less than Bush here. That’s a concern, although some of that was population drop. Trump got 69.83% here in this traditional R blue collar county.

East down M-32 along Lake Huron and US-23 is Alpena County, the anchor of NE lower Michigan. I am very interested to see what Alpena County does this year. That has been a moderate democrat stronghold for a long time until very recently due to union influences (both manufacturing there and Rogers City in Presque Isle County, along with retirees). I’ll call is a swing county. Bush took it in 2004 after losing it in 2000. Romney actually won it as well. Benishek won it after Stupak retired. What shocked me is that Benishek hung on to the county in 2012. The dems won it during their state senate pushes for that district (running strong Alpena D’s), although the district went R due to Midland saving us. The Alpena based state rep seat finally flipped in 2010 after being democrat for 20 years and dominated by pro-2a dems like Andy Neumann and Matthew Gillard. I think on paper, Trump helps there more than hurts. Snyder took it which surprised me even more then when Romney took it. It’s too early for me to call this county lean R. There’s too much D tradition.  Cox got 45% here, Snyder and Bush 50%, Romney 52%, and Johnson 54%. Bush did get 400 votes more than Romney, despite a lower percentage. That could be population decline.

The City of Alpena is still D leaning, although Johnson did win it. Cox had 41% there, Bush Snyder, and Romney 46%, and Johnson 50%  Alpena Township now goes R more than D and is a big reason for the change in the county. Cox got 44%, Bush got 49% (lost), Snyder got 49% (won),  Romney 50%, and Johnson 52%. Cox only won three areas, the very strongly Republican Ossineke Twp along with Wilson and  Wellington Twps. The only area Bush lost outside of Alpena itself (city or Twp) was Maple Ridge Twp.  Cox got 40% there, Bush 49%, Snyder 49% (tied), Romney and Johnson 54%. That’s another reason for the flip.

When I first got involved in politics, Alpena County was a D leaning swing county in NE Michigan due to unions. It was winnable for presidential candidates, but state level was moderate pro-2a D territory. Alpena City was a D stronghold. Stupak got major numbers there. D state reps there held a district like that for a decade. Trump won Alpena with 53.85%. That’s the city, not the county. Trump got 61.94% in the county and got 60% in formerly D leaning Alpena Twp, and 65% or more in all other municipalities. I knew there was potential here after seeing Romney win it despite being a bad fit. Trump was the right fit for this area and swept the area.

North of Alpena County on US 23 is Presque Isle County. It also had a D tradition, although Bush took it from Gore in 2000 and Cox won it in 2002. I am less familiar with this area, since the only part of the county I’ve been to is driving through Onaway along M-33 on my way to Cheboygan. The Onaway area is by a big UAW retreat which probably influences (retirees) there and Allis/North Allis Twp.  Rogers City and Preque Isle Twps are the main population areas, and actually lean more R than D. There may be less trendings here than elsewhere. Cox and Snyder got 52%, Bush 53%, Romney 54%, and Johnson 55%

Dems  seem to be losing strength in the Polish named townships, but tend to be gaining in the Onaway area. Bush and Cox won Allis Twp and Onaway. Johnson, Romney, and Snyder lost there. Snyder lost N. Allis Twp as well. On the other note, while the D’s took Metz, Posen, and Pulawski Twps every time, they aren’t winning them by the same margin they once did. Metz Twp is 51%D now instead of 54%. Posen was 59% and 56% and now down to around 53-54%. Pulawski was 60%+ territory and now low-mid 50’s. That evens out. The rest of the area is lean R, although the D’s took Krakow Twp twice against Cox and Snyder. R’s need to get all the votes possible here, as there’s state house and congressional ramifications here.

Trump got 62.18% here, sweeping the county. Onaway and those Polish named townships were his worst area, but with 59%. The rest were well over 60%.

West along Lake Huron is the last “Up North” county of Cheboygan. It run along the Lake Huron and Straits of Mackinac Coast. The main areas there are Cheboygan (and Benton Twp),  Indian River (Tuscaroa Twp), and Mackinaw City (Mackinaw Twp). Confusing to most, even Michiganders is the spelling. With the UP side, it’s Mackinac. Mackinac Island. Mackinac County. South of the bridge, it’s Mackinaw City. It’s pronounced Mackinaw.  I-75 goes up the West part through Indian River to Mackinaw City. US-23 goes along the coast. M-27 goes from I-75 to Cheboygan through Mullet Lake.  The main thing this area is known for is the lake. Big lakes. Besides Lake Huron, Mullet Lake and Burt Lake are major lakes in the county, both of which connect to Lake Huron.

The numbers here were 55% for Romney and Snyder, 56% Bush, 58% Cox, and 59% for Johnson. Most of it is fairly strong R territory. Some areas have moved away from us some. Cheboygan was close the last two elections on here. Bush and Cox won Hebron Twp, while Romney and Snyder lost it.  Romney was the only one to lose Munro Twp. I don’t know if that was due to matchups, or trends. This is an important county like the other NE lower counties for the same reasons.

Cheboygan County was 63.61% for Trump. It was another sweep for Trump as well. The swing areas were in the high 50’s for Trump, with the rest of the area over 60%.

While the population here is not that high, it’s political importance is. For statewide wins, every vote counts. Beyond that, the congressional districts are important, as are the state legislative races. Most areas are not swing areas. Most of this area can swing. Cox won despite his low numbers here, but it made it harder. Snyder needed his 52 percent. I think this is one of the areas Trump can help more than hurt, more so than the UP. This could impact the 1st district race in a big way.

Trump got 64% in this part of Michigan. I did not expect that high of a number. He needed all of that as well to win the state. This was like what he did in Florida. Take a formerly swing area and get a 40,000 vote cushion out of it. This was as much the difference as Macomb County.


All that’s left to cover is “da UP, eh?”

Part 1, 2 –

Part 3-7 –

Part 8-11 –

Part 12-15 –

Part 16-19 –

Part 20-21 –

The Path to Win (or lose) Michigan – Parts 20, 21 (West Michigan) – UPDATES with Trump results


Part 20 – Urban West Michigan. (red) (Grand Rapids, Muskegon metro, Holland) – 527,932 – 68.5% White, 14.3% Black, 12% Latin American. 60.6% Obama 08 I hesitated to put Holland here because it is much more conservative than the other cities and still is heavily Dutch influenced. If I put swingish Holland here, I have to put swingish Grand Haven (a vacation town) here as well. Grand Rapids has a Republican reputation, but that’s due to the suburbs, not the city. Muskegon County overall is heavily union influenced and has long been democrat. I put most of the county here outside of three townships (Casnovia, Ravenna, Moorland) which are more Rural Kent County (Dutch) influenced. This area includes Muskegon’s suburbs and the three close inner ring suburbs of Kent County as well (East Grand Rapids, Wyoming, and Kentwood). Wyoming and Kentwood have “Grand Rapids” moving into parts of them at a rapid rate.

Snyder – 72870 votes – 50.85%, won by 6100

Romney – 97181 votes – 41.93%, lost by about 34,800

Johnson – 73449 votes – 49.92%, won by about 5700

Bush04 – 116933 votes – 48.75%, lost by about 4000

Cox – 79482 votes – 52.07%, won by about 9900

Trump – 94992 votes – 39.61%, lost by about 34,100

Hard to believe with the McCain numbers that three candidates won here.  This was 60% Obama in 08. Snyder, Johnson, and Cox won it. Bush almost won it. Turnout is one of the big differences between the gubernatorial and presidential years.  Romney also strongly underperformed the rest of the GOP in this region. Bush was beat here strictly due to Grand Rapids bluing and Metro Muskegon turnout. There’s still some warning here with Romney’s setback. Trump worries me here. Bigtime

Trump worried me for good reason, but he basically had a similar vote spread to Romney’s. He did very well in the Muskegon burbs, but bombed elsewhere.

Holland along US-31/I-196 is split between Allegan and Ottawa Counties. Obama fought McCain to a draw here (McCain lost Ottawa portion, made up for it in Allegan portion). Romney was held to a near draw in the Ottawa  portion. This is due to the high Latin American population there. Romney was held overall to 53.08% in the combined part of Holland. Everyone else ranged from 63% (Johnson) to 66.91% (Cox) with Bush getting 64.35% and Snyder 65.24%. That’s a BIG difference. Grand Haven along US-31 is a tourist vacation town in Lake Michigan. I put it here, since it is about as close to Muskegon as it is to Zeeland, but it’s tough to classify. Obama won it twice and Romney got 47% here, again trailing the pack by far. The rest all got 53% except for Snyder who got 55%. That’s an area we should win easily. Trump bombed in Holland and Grand Haven. 46% in Grand Haven and 43% in the Ottawa part of Holland. He was a bad fit for both areas. He was the first GOP candidate to lose the combined part of Holland, possibly ever.

The parts of Kent County here (I-96 and US-131) are Grand Rapids itself, East Grand Rapids which is a highly affluent town and your stereotypical “moderate” area, and two inner ring suburbs rapidly increasing their minority populations. Wyoming has gone from 15% minority in 2000 to about 30% minority (7% black, 20% Latin American) in 2010. Kentwood is also about 30% minority (15% black, 8.5% Latin American, 6.6% Asian) as of 2010. Grand Rapids itself is almost 40% minority now (including 21% black, 16% Latin American). A lot of the once Dutch population is now out into the outer ring suburbs and exurbs. Mike Cox’s election was in 2002. He did the best of all candidates in this part of Kent County, getting 55.39%. He won big in all these areas, but got 63% in East Grand Rapids (One Tough Prosecutor campaign sold well there), 61% in Wyoming, and nearly 64% in Kentwood. He also actually won Grand Rapids itself with 50.17% which hasn’t been done in a long time statewide. Rick Snyder did 2nd best in the region with 51.94%, doing very well in the three suburbs getting at least 58% in all of them, but only broke 60% in East Grand Rapids. He lost Grand Rapids itself, but under today’s demographics there, got a very respectable 46.72%. We can win statewide with that today. Ruth Johnson won the region in 2010 with 50.76%. She was a tea party favored candidate, which hurt her in East Grand Rapids (held to 53%), but broke 60% in Wyoming and 58% in Kentwood. She got 44.69% in Grand Rapids itself. Bush won the Kent County region by 1400 votes and got 50.01%. He got 54.68% in East Grand Rapids, 58% in Kentwood, and 60% in Wyoming. He struggled in Grand Rapids itself, getting 43.61% there, losing it 9600 votes.  Then, there’s Romney. Romney got 41.79%….in the Kent County entire region. He won EGR with 50.91%, and edged out Obama in Wyoming with 51.86%. He lost Kentwood, getting 47.57% there. He cratered in Grand Rapids, getting 35.73% and losing it by 22,000 votes.  That’s not going to cut it at all.

“Then there’s Romney” can be replaced with “Then, there’s Trump.” This was possibly Trump’s worst area in the state in accordance with expectations. 35.90% in the region, running 6pts behind Romney’s cratering. He lost EGR (Liberal affluent but usually Republican area)  and got 35% there after Romney won it. 41% in Kentwood with the minority growth there. He got 48% and barely won Wyoming (increasing minority population). In Grand Rapids itself, he got 30%. Hillary got 62%, so there was some 3rd party bleeding, likely among the Calvin College crowd. A lot of the R base here is Cruz Country (and Kasich in EGR).

Muskegon County (I-96 and US-31) overall is the main democrat base county in West Michigan. It’s a union area, with high minority populations in Muskegon (35% black) and Muskegon Heights (78% black).  I removed three GOP townships along the Kent County border more culturally tied to rural Dutch areas than the union influenced areas here. The percentages overall here ranged from Romney’s 39.63% to Snyder’s 45.82% with Cox (42.67%), Bush (43.15%), and Johnson (45.58%) in between.  Muskegon Heights is the most democrat part, going 90%+ for everybody. Bush and Cox did the best getting 7% here. Romney had 3%. You read that right. 3% Romney had less raw votes (122) here than Mike Cox (191) in a low turnout gubernatorial year, let alone Bush (312). Nobody broke the 30% barrier in Muskegon. Cox did the best there with 29.63% (it was the suburbs where Cox did quite poorly losing some areas that even Romney won).  Among the suburbs and rural areas, Snyder lost four municipalities, all with strong D leanings (Egelston Twp, City of Montague, Muskegon Twp, Roosevelt Park). Johnson lost three of those (won Montague). Bush lost eight (Cedar Creek twp, Dalton Twp, Egelston Twp, City of Montague, Muskegon Twp, Roosevelt Park, Sullivan Twp, City of Whitehall).  Cox lost 11. Romney lost 12. It’s tough territory.

Trump did well in Metro Muskegon. He got 45.12% here which was about the same as Snyder. He did only get 26% in Muskegon itself which is still 4% higher than Romney. He got 5% in Muskegon Heights which is an improvement over Romney. It’s the suburbs where Trump shined. He won all of them except Roosevelt Park, flipping 10 of them from Romney. Muskegon Twp can sometimes go 60% D, but Trump won it with 48%. This helped reduce the pain in Grand Rapids.

There’s a lot of swing areas here and that affects several districts downticket. Grand Rapids has two democrat districts, although one can POSSIBLY be won in a GREAT year for us. The state senate district there is a swing district currently held by an R, although often contested strongly. The Muskegon suburbs have a state rep district that’s flipped several times in the past 15 years. The state senate district covering all of Muskegon County and a couple of rural counties is Republican, but we’ve been lucky there on several occasions with candidate quality. Congressionally, Ottawa County outvotes Muskegon County, and the Kent County suburbs outvote Grand Rapids with the 2008 exception so those congressional seats are safe. This area overall is a must win for the GOP to win the state. There’s different ways to do it. Cox did it due to overperforming in Kent County and doing better in Muskegon itself than many R’s. Snyder overperformed  in the Muskegon suburbs. Whoever the candidate is however can’t get completely smoked in Grand Rapids, and needs to reduce the losses in Muskegon/Muskegon Heights.

Part 21 – Dutch Influenced West Michigan (Green) (North Allegan, Barry, Ottawa, Kent County) – 625,859 – 90% White,  60.4% McCain 08. This is the most Republican part of Michigan.  I hesitated on where to put Barry County as it is a crossroads between Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, and between Kalamazoo and Lansing). It’s one of the most conservative areas in Michigan and is a bit of overlap with Free Soil and Dutch influences. It’s in Justin Amash’s district, so I put it here. Allegan County is split between two areas, and I put the north part of it here.  Ottawa County and Zeeland/Hudsonville especially is the heart of the area. Most of suburban Kent County is here outside of the most inner ring suburbs (Kentwood, Wyoming, East Grand Rapids). The fact that McCain of all people broke 60% here shows how much of a base area this is.

Snyder – 160670 Votes – 71.72% – Won by about 102,000

Romney – 214600 Votes – 65.58% – Won by about 105,000

Johnson – 147819 Votes  – 71.06% – Won by about 104,000

Bush 04 – 221710 Votes – 69.33% – Won by about 128,000

Cox – 149382 votes – 70.42% – Won by about 91,000

Trump – 218550 votes – 62.49% – Won by about 109,000

The percentages here are relatively consistent outside of (again) Romney.  In much of this district, you’ll see a lot of names that start with “Van”, have two e’s or a’s together, or end with “sma.”

Barry County is the SE part of this region. It’s a largely farming and commuting area within an hour or so from Grand Rapids, Lansing, Battle Creek, Holland, Ionia, and Kalamazoo. I placed it here due to being in Amash’s district, but it could have also easily fit under the “Free soil” category.  The numbers here range from 58% for Romney to 63-64% for Snyder and Johnson win Cox (59%) and Bush (62%) in between. It’s a small town area and I don’t know a lot of about it since I’ve been there maybe three times at most. It’s claim to fame for me is that I won a gun I had to pick up in Hastings a few years back. Romney really bombed in Hastings for some reason losing it with 48%. All of the other candidates here got between 55% and 58%. Hastings wasn’t the worst municipality for any other candidate in the county outside of Snyder.

Barry County was good for Trump. It’s the most rural part of the area, and Trump got over 63% there. Trump won Hastings as well with 54%, which Romney lost.

Northwest of there is Kent County. Suburban and rural Kent County are base areas for the GOP.  All of the candidates here ranged from 63.86% (Romney) to 70% (Snyder) with Bush (67.39%), Cox (69.39%), and Johnson (69.50%) in between.  I’m not a Kent County expert, but from my experiences from a distance, it’s quite a difficult county to navigate politically. There’s the Ford types, DeVos folks, Amash folks, business interests, a sizable number of liberal Republicans (I noticed that with the gun issue), Dutch Reform Church, Christian Reform Church, Right to Life, and the regional interests.  Infighting isn’t uncommon, although the two issues I see uniting are the life issue and respect for Gerry Ford. I hope the 2008 loss countywide to Obama there woke them up as I know it embarrassed them. I hope the 2012 close call (countywide) there showed that there’s political challenges there (Grand Rapids City in particular). This isn’t 1998 or 2000 Kent County anymore. There’s a lot of suburban growth in the county, and I think George W Bush’s campaign actually fit this area well, as did Snyder’s.  Two different styles, but a similar “problem solver” message. I am not confident that Trump will sell here. Cruz fit there. Kasich probably could. Walker would have been ideal.

Trump got 59% in this part of Kent County. That’s actually not good. My fears were confirmed. This was the reason I did not think Trump would win Michigan. Too much base bleeding. I underestimated his appeal Downriver, in Free Soil country, the farm belt, and Up North. I still wouldn’t count on being able to bleed this much in suburban Kent County and win the state. Some fences need to be mended. 

I only had three townships (Casnovia, Moorland, Ravenna) of neighboring Muskegon County here. Numbers ranged from 59% for Cox to 64% for Snyder. Trump got 70% there. Blue collar appeal.

I can really combine North Allegan and Ottawa County as there are really one overlapping area and this area is the heart of Dutch Michigan.  Much of what can be said for one can be said for the other. North Allegan ranges from 68% for Romney to 73% for Johnson and Snyder. Bush and Cox got 71%. Some places here (Fillmore and Overisel) are over 85% GOP. Most places are over 70%, and almost all (except Casco Twp) are at or 60% GOP here outside of (in Romney’s case) Wayland.  On the Ottawa Side, the numbers ranged from 69% for Romney to 73-75% for the other candidates. Six municipalities routinely go over 80% for the GOP here (Blendon, Hudsonville, Jamestown, Olive, Zeeland, Zeeland Twp). Even Romney got 80% in three areas here. Snyder and Cox got over 60% everywhere. Only three areas were under 60% for Bush (Spring Lake, Crockery, Ferrysburg).  Johnson got over 60% everywhere except Crockery Twp. Romney struggled. Trump got 65% in this part of the state. The same 4-6% consistent bleed from Romney in West MI applies to much of this area as well.

This area is fast growing, especially Metro Grand Rapids. The one biggest challenge here is the growing Latin American population. It’s more numerous in my “Urban West MI” section, but Kent, Ottawa, and Allegan counties have a rapidly growing Latin American population, and not just in the cities (Holland, Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood).  I think there’s an opportunity here to gain some of that vote, but it takes local outreach – emphasis on local.  Base GOP counties have an edge on others in gaining votes of newcomers to the county. I know that from living in a county surrounded by blue counties. One of the things I emphasize in Livingston County is the difference between Wayne County and Livingston County politics. Our success and their failure is not an accident. It’s due to the choices our voters make. People move to these areas for a reason.  This is an opportunity, and Michigan in general needs to take advantage of it. A lot of our votes in my county are from people who lived in D areas and probably voted for at least some Ds in the past. “Livingstonizing” our newcomers strengthens our community as well as our party. The same could be said for Metro Grand Rapids and Metro Holland. Trump presents a new challenge here. Will the bleed here become more permanent or be a one time thing. While Trump opened the door in Michigan to winning a lot of areas that have been going D in the past (Wyandotte, etc), it presents a challenge in other parts of the state, and outside of the Bloomfields, nowhere is that more apparent than in Kent County. There’s a lot of work to be done here.


Part 1,2 –

Part 3-7 –

Part 8-11 –

Part 12-15 –

Part 16-19 –

Coming soon, but not quite finished:

Part 22 – Farm Belt and Transition Zone (between West/Mid Michigan and “Up North”)

Part 23 – NW Michigan (“Up North”)

Part 24 – NE Michigan (Other part of “Up North”)

Part 25 – The UP (What is considered past “Up North”).

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