Home sweet home. This will be more than likely another close race similar to 2000 and 2004. There are a lot of questions about what will happen here. I have all the 2000 and 2004 data on the county pages. They are out of date for 2006 results and 08 previews due to time contraints, but the 2000/2004 stuff is still there and accurate. I recommend looking there if you want to get more detailed than this post here.
John Kerry won 15 counties in Michigan. Al Gore won 24 counties in Michigan (out of 83?) Kerry won one county that Gore lost, Alger County, which is in the UP. Kerry and Gore did underperform in a lot of normally base counties, but there are a lot of democrats which are "local democrats" but not federal democrats. Bush ran into some of that problem in central Oakland County and to a lesser extent in parts of West Michigan where there are "local republican" that aren't "federal republicans."
In 2004, there were 4,839,252 voters. Kerry won the state by 165,707 votes. Gore won the state in 2000 by 217,279 vote. Every region here is important, from Detroit City to the corner of the UP.
Dividing the regions:
1. The UP:
The UP is locally democrat and federally a swing area. They went heavily for Granholm twice, heavily for Bill Clinton, and then voted for Bush twice, or more than likely, against Gore, and against Kerry. These are some of the most independent voters in the state and should not be taken for granted by either party. Bush won the UP by 6462 votes in 2000, and by 6388 votes in 2004. The democrats only won three counties here in 2000 and 2004. Their base counties here are Marquette and Gogebic (Ironwood), which they won both times. Marquette went 53-43% for Gore and 54-45% for Kerry. Gogebic went 48-46% in 2000 and 52-47% in 04. The third county in 2000 was Iron county, which Bush amazingly won in 04 by 9 votes. In 2004, the third county was Alger County which Kerry won by 77 votes after Bush won it by 71 votes in 2000. Houghton County is one to watch. Bush won big there in 2000 and 2004, but for different reasons. The City of Houghton flipped. Bush lost it in 04 after winning it by 10% in 2000. The Nader vote went to Kerry and then some. Bush made up for it in the other parts of the county. Overall, the Eastern UP is more Republican than the Western UP. The whole UP though can not be neglected.
This is another swing area, and overlooked. Pundits say that "Up North" is Republican. That is NOT the case. I repeat. That is NOT the case. It is socially conservative. There is a difference. Bush did win here, but narrowly, with a spread of 2562 votes (50%) in 2000 and 6805 (53%) votes in 2004. Bush did win every county in what I considered NE Lower Michigan in 2004, and he lost Alpena, Ogemaw, Iosco, and Roscommon Counties in 2000. All four of those flipped. Alpena is a democrat base county on the state level, so that was surprising. Cheboygan, Presque Isle (Rogers City), Montmorency (Atlanta), Alpena, Oscoda (Mio), Alcona, Ogemaw (West Branch), Iosco (East Tawas), and Roscommon Counties were included. Montmorency and Oscoda Counties are the most Republican in this area. The rest are all fairly competitive. Much of this area is represented on the state level by two democrats, Joel Sheltrown and Matt Gillard and by Republican Tony Stamas on the senate level (thanks more to Midland).
This is more the base area that the pundits refer to. I do think it's a little shaky up there. The more tradition republican coast is changing, but the interior is more republican these days. Bush won it overall by 26,040 (57%) votes in 2000, and 32,327 (59%) votes in 04, but there is more than meets the eye in SOME of these areas. It was a Republican sweep in the counties I included in NW Michigan outside of Manistee County in 2000. I did NOT include Lake County here, but in West Michigan, so keep that in mind with these numbers. The main thing I notices in the numbers here, and in my travels is that the coastal areas with money are going more purple, while the interior areas are going more red. I think it's cultural issues between liberal outdoors and conservative outdoors. Biking and sightseeing v hunting and snowmobiling. That's overly simplistic and I really like both the coastal and the interior, but there is a clash between the cultures. Grand Traverse County was 59% Bush in 04 and 58% Bush in 2000. Not a lot of change right? Wrong. Traverse City went 51% for Kerry in 2004, and 45% for Gore. The townships masked the numbers. Leelanau County shows it more. Bush won it with 56% in 04, down from 57% in 00. Interior Kalkaska County shows a reverse. Bush won with 56% in 00, and 61% in 04. It's not just Traverse City either, as I've seen signs along the coasts outside of Antrim County. Petoskey and Charlevoix are going more purple as well, to a lesser extent than Traverse City. The two most competitive Counties are Manistee County which is about 50/50 and Benzie County which was close in 2000, although took a right turn in 2004. Frankfort there is still blue however. I do not know if it is cultural or union, as I am unfamiliar with the area. If McCain is going to win this state, he needs to hold the line in the coastal areas, and improve on the interior improvements in 04. Missaukee County is by percentage the 2nd more Republican County in the state. 68% in 2004.
I included Emmet (Petoskey), Charlevoix, Antrim (Elk Rapids), Otsego (Gaylord), Crawford (Grayling), Kalkaska, Grand Traverse (Traverse City), Leelanau (Suttons Bay), Benzie (Frankfort), Manistee, Wexford (Cadillac), and Missaukee (Lake City) Counties.
I think this is one of the most important areas to watch. The election will be won or lost here. In 2000, Gore won this area by 63,132 (57%) votes. In 2004, Kerry won it by 51,343 (55%). Can McCain knock down Obama's numbers in this social moderate to conservative area, but economic liberal area? That is the question here. Gladwin and Midland went for Bush. Gladwin is not a Republican county, but a 50/50 county, along with Arenac County. Midland County is a 56% base county for the GOP. Most of the real democrat strength comes from three counties. Bay, Saginaw, and Genesee Counties. Bay County is probably the strongest "white" county for the democrats. It's more democrat than next door Saginaw County. 55% (6100 spread) in 2000 and 54% (5600 spread) in 2004. It's more democrat locally than statewise. It's comparable to Downriver. Saginaw County is 54% (9700 spread) in 2000 and 53% (7700 spread) in 2004. I figured it would be more because of the minority heavy areas in the City of Saginaw, Bridgeport, and Buena Vista, but there is also heavily Republican Frankenmuth as well. Frakenmuth is one of the most conservative areas in the state and while small, gave a 2000 vote spread to the GOP, cutting the margins in Saginaw County. The big county here is Genesee County, home of Flint, once Buick City. Gore got 63% (53,200 vote spread) here in 2000, Kerry 60% (44,500) in 2004. The northern and Eastern suburbs (Clio, Montrose, Burton, Davison) are generally democrat in Genesee County, the Southern Suburbs (Fenton/Grand Blanc) more Republican.
I included Arenac (Standish), Gladwin, Saginaw, Bay (Bay City), Midland, and Genesee (Flint) Counties here. The question is whether McCain or Obama can sell here. If either can, I think they win. I don't expect McCain to win here, but I think, if he's smart, he can cut the margin in half. He's got to sell hope in the economy though and expand on his new plans for the economy. He needs to give the conservative democrats there a reason to vote for him. Bush didn't sell enough there (daddy's boy problem). McCain paid his dues and then some in the military. Obama isn't working class enough, and Bush isn't on the ballot.
These areas are often included as part of "up North." Bush won the area with 53% (7764 vote spread) in 2000 and 54% (9590 vote spread) in 2004. Two counties went democrat here in 2000, one in 2004. The Democrat base here is Isabella County. It is home to Mt Pleasant and Central Michigan University. It is not a deep blue area, but going more and more blue. Gore won it with 49% and 175 vote spread. Kerry with 51% and a 580 vote spread. I don't see Obama losing Isabella County. Mt Pleasant is 1/4 of the vote there. Only if the rural vote completely turns on him. Clare County is about 50/50. Bush won it in 04 by 150 votes and Gore in 2000 by 350 votes. Osceola County is a base GOP county. Montcalm County is interesting. It's GOP leaning, but has a labor streak to it. Clinton won it. If Kerry or Gore couldn't win it, I can't see Obama winning it. Mecosta is also interesting and runs about 55% GOP. It is a GOP county outside of Big Rapids. Big Rapids is a college town with Ferris State. I'd keep an eye out there. I included Osceola (Reed City), Clare, Mecosta (Big Rapids), Isabella (Mt Pleasant), Gratiot (Alma/St Louis), and Montcalm (Greenville) Counties.
Some counties many considered North Michigan I put under West Michigan. I'm an East sider, so what can I say. Out west, you consider anything east of Lansing (or Lowell) "Detroit". Even with the expansions, it is overall the most GOP area of Michigan based on vote spread. Bush won it twice with 57% (137,420 spread) and 58% (151,670 spread) of the vote. Three counties went blue here, all twice. Lake County, Muskegon County, and Kalamazoo County. The latter one concerns me the most in 2008.
Lake County (Baldwin) is strongly democrat but small. It went 55% with a 623 vote spread for Gore and 51% with a 173 vote spread for Kerry. There is a sizable black population in Idlewild and Baldwin which may pump numbers up for Obama. I'm not sure how things will go there. Muskegon County is the union capital of West Michigan. It twice went 55% for the dems, more so than Bay City or Saginaw. Kalamazoo County is more narrowly democrat, but I doubt it will be in 08. Western Michigan University. 48% Gore, 51% Kerry. I expect 52-53% for Obama thanks to the university crowd there.
Areas to watch:
Oceana County - Leans GOP, but has a large Mexican population.
Van Buren County - Very close, narrowly won by the GOP.
Kent County - A GOP base county, but Grand Rapids itself leans democrat. How much will it cut the numbers.
Berrien County - Leans GOP, but Benton Harbor will go big for Obama there. Will it cut the numbers?
The rest are base counties. Ottawa is the most GOP area in the state. 72% with a 56,500 vote spread. Newaygo, Ionia, Allegan, and St Joe County should all hit at least 60%.
I included Lake (Baldwin), Mason (Ludington), Oceana (Hart), Newaygo (Fremont), Muskegon, Kent (Grand Rapids), Ionia, Ottawa (Holland), Barry (Hastings), Allegan (Holland), Kalamazoo, Van Buren (Paw Paw), Berrien (Benton Harbor/St Joe), Cass (Dowagiac), and St Joseph (Sturgis) Counties.
South Central/Capital Area:
This is a good bellwether for the state. Gore won this area in 2000 by 4128 votes. Bush won it in 2004 by 16,817 votes. This area is very significant if McCain is going to win.
Two counties went for Gore. Ingham and Calhoun. In 2004, Calhoun County flipped. It is a swing county if there was one. Battle Creek and Albion go democrat, withthe rest of the area going Republican for the most part. The key is how democrat Battle Creek itself goes. It's leans that way, not overwhelmingly. Shiawassee and Eaton Counties are also very competitive. Bush narrow won then in 2000, although won them by a more comfortable margin in 2004. They are very friendly to democrats on the state level however, so don't take them for granted. Clinton County is a base Republican county for the most part, but not as much on the state level. The Lansing influence affects all three of those counties. Clinton County also has a bit of East Lansing moving into Bath. Will that effect the numbers this year? Kerry won Bath Township by 3 votes and East Lansing's Clinton County portion by 99 votes. Few were cast there.
Ingham County is the base of the democrats in this area. It's the home of Lansing and East Lansing. Okemos is also strongly democrat. It went 58% in 2004 and 57% in 2000. In both elections there was about a 22,000 vote spread. McCain will lose big in those three areas, but can make up for some of it in Holt, Mason, and the rural areas. If he can get the spread under 20,000 he'll be a great shape. I don't expect that there.
Jackson is a key county here. It's narrowly Republican with the city leaning democrat and the county leaning Republican. It went 56% in 2004 which surprised me a little. It's normally not that solid. South of the Jackson area, the GOP base counties are Hillsdale and Branch Counties. Lenawaee County is conservative, not republican, but Bush won it by a good margin in 2004. That is Tim Walberg country, and he'll get his backers out to vote. I think all three of them go big for McCain. They have to, if he'll have a chance.
I included Shiawassee (Owosso), Clinton (DeWitt), Eaton (Charlotte), Ingham (Lansing), Jackson, Calhoun (Battle Creek), Branch (Coldwater), Hillsdale, and Lenawee (Adrian) Counties.
The thumb is conservative, not necessarily republican. There are a lot of ticket splitters here. It's like North Michigan. In fact, two state reps there are democrats, as well as state senator Jim Barcia (partly due to Bay City). Bush did win the area twice with 53% (13,364 spread) and 56% (23,585 spread) of the vote. All of the thumb counties went for Bush. St Clair County is competitive and Tuscola County is sometimes compeitive (more so locally). They both shifted right in 2004. Lapeer leans GOP and was 58% in 2004. Huron County leans GOP (locally competitive) Sanilac County is a GOP base county consistantly. The cultural issues should work well in McCain/Palin's favor here.
I included Huron (Bad Axe), Sanilac (Sandusky), Tuscola (Caro), Lapeer, and St Clair (Port Huron) counties.
SE Michigan (Outside Tri-County)
I included three counties here as I do not consider them "Detroit area" like I do the tri-county area. Livingston County is 1/2 between four metro counties of different areas. Washtenaw County is its own main area. Monroe County is closer to Toledo, Ohio than it is to Detroit. This area overall went 52% to Gore by 20916 votes and 53% for Kerry by 22,248 votes largely on the strength of one county. Livingston County is base GOP. Washtenaw County base democrat. Monroe County is up for grabs each election.
Livingston County went 59% Bush in 2000 with a 15,900 vote spread and 63% for Bush in 2004 with a 24,900 vote spread. If McCain's going to win, it needs to improve on the 2004 numbers because of Washtenaw County.
Monroe County is a swing county. Gore won it in 2000 by 2600 votes(51%) and Bush won it in 2004 by 1400 votes (51%). Western Monroe County leans more Republican and Eastern Monroe County leans more democrat, however democrats can win in the western part of the county, and republicans in the eastern part. It is largely blue collar and has a labor heritage.
Washtenaw County is the number two democrat county in the state. Gore won it in 2000 with 60% and a nearly 35000 vote spread. Kerry won it in 2004 with 63% and a nearly 49,000 vote spread. Most of that gain is from Ann Arbor, Ypsi, and its main townships like Scio, Pittsfield, and Superior. I expect something similar to the latter with Obama. He might not run as well in the rural areas that lean slightly GOP like Manchester, but he'll fit right in at Ann Arbor. He's one of them right to the core.
The only way this section is close is if Monroe goes big for McCain (55%+) and Livingston gets big turnout and a 65%+ for McCain. I can see Livingston going that way. Monroe maybe, for one reason. One thing I notice that surprised me at the McCain event in Sterling Heights was a group of Catholic nuns. I did not expect that at all. Most nuns I do know lean democrat because of pacifism and labor sympathies, although they are pro-life. Monroe is home to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Depending on the issues, I can see that as an advantage to either side.
Tri-County Detroit area:
Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne Counties. Overall this area went 58% for Gore and 58% for Kerry. The vote spread in 2000 was 322,635 votes and in 2004 was 339,045 votes. These three counties are the key.
Macomb County - Gore won it with 50% and by almost 8400 votes. Bush won it with 50% by slightly over 6000 votes. That's not good enough to win. McCain needs to get at least a 15,000 vote margin here. That means reducing his losses in Warren, Mt Clemens, Clinton Township (must win), St Clair Shores (Must win) Eastpointe, and Roseville, and getting better gains out of the northern tier (Shelby Township, Washington Township, Macomb Township) The most important areas are around M-59 and I-94. Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, Harrison Township, Chesterfield Township, and St Clair Shores. That will make or break either candidate.
Oakland County - The most misunderstood county in Michigan. Believe it or not, it got redder in 2004 than it did in 2000. Gore won it with 49% and by almost 7,000 votes, and Kerry won it with 50% and 2760 votes. But, I thought the Knollenberg district almost went for Kerry in 2004? It did, but the county is more than that district, although that district is obviously very important.
McCain's job here is twofold. He must win back the Bush 2004 defectors while also improving on the lesser known parts of the county. Obama has a very good base here. Southfield, Oak Park, Lathrup Village, Royal Oak Township and Pontiac are black majority areas. Expect a 50,000 vote defecit from those five areas right off the bat. That, along with outmigration to other counties like Livingston, is why Oakland County is so much harder to win. There are also cultural left areas that will go dem in a big way over on the east end. Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Madison Heights, Royal Oak City, Hazel Park (more labor there, bleeding might be stopped), and in Central Oakland - West Bloomfield (unless Obama is viewed as too friendly with Muslims), and Farmington Hills is going that way. Based on 2004 numbers, that will be another 22,500 votes. 72,500 defecit off the bat.
Auburn Hills will be tough to call. It's voted democrat, but also for Tom McMillan. The good news is that can be made up. The key is stopping the bleeding in the money areas. Southfield Township (Bingham Farms, Franklin), Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Troy, and the Rochester areas took a big step back in 04. Clawson took a step forward. McCain needs to do very there. Birmingham had an 1800 vote spread in 2000, but 1200 in 2004. Bloomfield Hills? 1027 to 851. Troy? 7300 to 6000. In 2004, those areas overall had slightly under 25,000 votes. That needs to go up. The other edges are the best shots. West of I-275 or North of M-59. Novi westward and Clarkston Northward. They moved in a big way towards Bush in 2004. McCain needs to keep that up. That area went 60% for Bush and racked up a 47,000 vote spread. The combination there based on 04 numbers....72,000. Oakland is more than the Bloomfields and the Oxfords, Lake Orions, Clarkstons, Milfords, and South Lyons can not be forgotten. It is a key county in 2008 as the pundits say, but all of it is key.
John Kerry won Michigan by about 165,707 votes. He won Wayne County by 342,297, and 69%. Gore got 69% and won it by 307,393. Kerry got 94% of the Detroit vote and won it by 285,915 votes, more than the difference in the entire state. With Obama on the ticket, I expect a similar margin if the election is run above board there...if...more if some of the same shenanigans went on as it did in 04. We as Republicans need to make sure that the cheating does not happen.
Outside of Detroit itself, John Kerry won Wayne County 55-44% and by 56,575 votes. Take out Hamtramck and Highland Park within Detroit, and it is 54-45% That area is what needs to be targeted and targeted heavily. Most of it can be seperated into three areas. Grosse Pointe area, Downriver, and Western Wayne County. For those outside of Michigan, Downriver refers to the southern suburbs of Detroit near the Detroit river. Dearborn (and for some uninformed people on the right, it's not Dearbornistan) southward, generally.
The Grosse Pointe area leans republican, but Bush bled heavily there in 2004, as he did in a lot of money areas. McCain can't do that in 08. I threw in the more middle class Harper Woods area as well here. Overall it went 56-43% for Bush, with a 4683 vote spread. McCain needs to do well there.
Western Wayne County is more split. Some areas are democrat, and some republican. The far west is generally more Republican until you go more south to Van Buren and Sumpter closer to the airport (labor). The Ford Rd and Michigan Ave cooridor is very democrat outside of Canton which leans republican by the skin of its teeth. Plymouth (Township, not City) and Northville are mostly solid Republican (but they like Granholm). Livonia leans GOP. Redford is now solidly democrat and Dearborn Heights is as well, but maybe not as much as it was in 04. Garden City, Wayne, Westland, Romulus, Van Buren, Belleville are dem. Inkster is like Detroit. Overall this area went about 53% for Kerry and a 20,240 vote spread. This area can be won with the right candidate or wrong candidate on the democrat side. McCain needs to work this area, particulary Canton, Livonia, and even Westland.
Downriver is strongly labor democrat. It went 58% for Kerry with a 33,000 vote spread. I think McCain can cut this down some in places like Brownstown and Flat Rock, which moved towards the GOP slightly. Grosse Ile is GOP. Allen Park, Trenton, Riverview, Woodhaven, and Gibralter should be targets. Ecorse and River Rouge will go big for Obama. Dearborn will be tough, but Bush DID win it in 2000. Wyandotte, Taylor, and Lincoln Park are solidly democrat, but could their numbers be reduced. It's possible. This area needs to be targeted. There are a lot of seniors in this area, and McCain could do well there. McCain won't win Wayne County, but if he can run close within 5% outside of Detroit itself, he's in very good shape, especially if he pulls in big numbers out of Macomb County.
Overall, I think this state will be down to the wire. I like our chances this year with this candidate and opponent, despite Bush. Bush isn't on the ticket. Granholm is still governor however. If McCain wins here, it's most likely over. Much as the Republicans can not lose Ohio and win, the democrats can not lose Michigan and win. (If Michigan goes Republican, so does Ohio). Turnout is the biggest key here.