Change Evident in Southeastern Michigan for Presidential Election

On Nov. 8, 2016 election results showed that then Republican nominee Donald Trump was elected to serve as the nation’s 45th President; Michigan was one of the states that went red for President-Elect Trump. In 2012 though President Barack Obama, the then Democratic candidate up for re-election, won Michigan, helping assure his second term in the White House. To show exactly what locations swung from Democratic to Republican or Republican to Democratic in the 2016 Presidential Election, voting results by precinct were taken from the Michigan Secretary of State and the County Elections offices and mapped. Even just a glance at the maps shows where significant change occurred-Macomb and Monroe Counties-but our deeper look at the precincts also shows precisely where change occurred throughout Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. In many cases, the change shown is of an area where residents voted Democratic in 2012 and Republican in 2016, but there were instances of the opposite as well.

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In the 2016 map we see that Detroit and its inner-ring suburbs (Ferndale, Royal Oak, parts of Warren, etc.), along with Ann Arbor and its surrounding cities to the east and west, had Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton as the winning candidate. There was also a pocket in the City of Monroe that went to Clinton. However, a large share of the region went to President-Elect Donald Trump, including all of Livingston and St. Clair counties and majority of Macomb and nearly all of Monroe counties.

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The two counties in the region that had the largest number of precincts switching from Democratic to Republican from the 2012 to 2016 election were Macomb and Monroe counties. In 2016 53.6 percent of the votes went to the Republican nominee (President-Elect Trump) in Macomb County while in 2012 47.5 percent of the vote went to then Republican nominee Mitt Romney, according to the election results. In Monroe County in 2016 58.4 percent of the votes went to the Republican nominee (President-Elect Trump) in Monroe County and in 2012 that number was 48.9 percent for the Republican nominee, according to the election results.

When drilling down into Macomb County we see that the central portion of Sterling Heights, the northern portion of Warren, majority of St. Clair Shores and pockets of precincts in Lenox, Chesterfield, Clinton, Harrison, Richmond and Shelby townships and in the cities of Fraser, Utica and Roseville flipped from Democratic to Republican precincts between the 2012 and 2016 elections. There was not one precinct in Macomb County that switched from Republican to Democrat between the 2012 and 2016 elections, according to county election results.

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In Monroe County we see that the city of Monroe and Dundee, London, Erie, Exeter, Berlin and Rainsville townships switched from Democratic in 2012 to Republican in 2016. Similar to Macomb, there were no precincts in Monroe County that had the reverse switch, going from Republican in 2012 to Democratic in 2016.

While overall, Wayne County remained Democratic in the 2016 election, a drill down on the municipalities and precincts shows that nearly all of the Downriver region
(Trenton, Woodhaven, Flat Rock, Gibraltar, Rockwood, Brownstown, Riverview and portions of Wyandotte, Southgate, Taylor and Allen Park) switched from voting Democratic in the 2012 election to going for the Republican Presidential nominee in 2016. Additionally, all of Garden City made that switch, as did portions of Huron, Sumpter and Van Buren townships, along with areas in Westland, Romulus and Livonia. Overall in Wayne County in 2016, 66 percent of the vote went to Democratic nominee Clinton and 29 percent went to Trump, according to the official Wayne County election results. In 2012 though 73 percent of the vote went to the Democratic nominee (Obama) while 26 percent went to the Republican nominee (Romney), according to election results.

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Washtenaw County, unlike Macomb and Monroe, had several precincts in 2016 that switched from being Republican in 2012 to being Democratic in 2016. All precincts in Lima and Sylvan townships switched from Republican in 2012 to Democratic in 2016, and about half of the precincts in Dexter and Lodi townships did the same. Augusta and Lyndon townships did the opposite, switching from Democratic to Republican between the two elections.

In Oakland County, overall, 44 percent of the voters voted for the Republican nominee (Trump) and 52 percent voted for the Democratic nominee (Clinton) in 2016, according to county elections results. In 2012 though there was a higher percentage of votes cast for both the Republican and Democratic nominees. In 2012 the Republican nominee (Romney) received 45 percent of the vote and the Democratic nominee (Obama) received 54 percent of the vote, according to county election results. In 2016, there were pockets of precincts-primarily in the Bloomfield-Birmingham area-that switched from Republican to Democratic. Birmingham though was the only municipality that switched nearly in its entirety. There were also about a dozen precincts that made the opposite switch (from Democratic to Republican) between the two most recent Presidential elections; those switches primarily occurred in the municipalities that have remained Republican in both elections.

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With the evident change between the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections in Southeastern Michigan, we will embark on a detailed series showing not only where the change occurred, as we did in this post, but also how it relates to socioeconomic data, voter turnout and third party votes. Stay tuned for another post related to the 2016 election in the coming weeks.

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