The Hill, a prominent Washington news site, is out with its top 10 battlegound counties across the nation with two weeks to go before Election Day and Macomb County sits at the top of the list.
The Hill calls Macomb “a top battleground county in one of the top battleground states.” Macomb’s longtime status as one of the ultimate bellwether counties in the U.S. remains intact.
“Like other suburban counties,” The Hill writes, “it is home to many swing voters who voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012 before abandoning the Democratic Party to vote for a brash outsider in Trump. A county where 20 percent of the jobs are in manufacturing and more than 83 percent of residents are white, it also represents a test of Biden’s hypothesis that he’ll be able to recoup blue-collar white voters Trump flipped four years ago.”
The publication explains that Macomb served as “a microcosm for Trump’s strength and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s weakness in Michigan and across the country.” Similarly, after the president’s 2016 squeaker of a victory in Michigan – by just 10,704 votes – the highly regarded Cook Report concluded that Macomb, where Trump gained more than 48,000 votes, was one of three U.S. counties who put Trump over the top.
From the outside looking in, The Hill sums up Macomb this way: “A voting hub boasting more than 687,000 registered voters, the county also has a strong history in automotive manufacturing, and a General Motors factory closed down there last year. The county appears to set the stage for a contrast between Trump’s controversial trade policies and Biden’s record on supporting deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement and bailing out the auto industry in the Obama administration.”
I doubt that NAFTA is anywhere near the top of voters’ concerns in this election season. Many of the county’s best jobs are white-collar work in engineering and design that are tied to the auto and defense industries. Because of the disastrous economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, job losses in Macomb are centered in the retail and restaurant industries.
The county’s unemployment rate is just below 10 percent after hitting 27 percent at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak in April.
One key factor to keep in mind on Election Day: The myth that Trump benefited in Macomb in 2016 from a flood of straight-ticket Republican voters persists four years later. In fact, straight-ticket voting gave Democrats an edge of nearly 5,000 votes over the GOP. Overall turnout was typical for a presidential election (67 percent) and a majority of voters split their ticket. That’s the Macomb County way.
The biggest determining factor four years ago in Macomb was that Trump outpolled Mitt Romney’s 2012 vote total by six percentage points – not a difficult feat – while Hillary Clinton fell a whopping 10 points short of Barack Obama’s 2012 tally.