President Trump is hoping to replicate his success in Michigan, a state he won by just 10,704 votes in 2016. In 2018, Democrats won every statewide election in the state, and reclaimed the governor’s mansion. Those wins were largely propelled by Democratic success in the suburbs.
In 2016, Mr. Trump won Michigan’s suburbs 53% to 42%, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer lost the suburbs by just 3 points in 2018. That included wins in Oakland County, wealthier suburban Detroit County, and Macomb County, a more working-class county that Mr. Trump carried in 2016.
The latest CBS News polling showed Biden leading with independent voters 55% to 43%. In 2016, Mr. Trump won independents 52% to 36%, according to exit polls. Polling also shows Mr. Trump is struggling with White voters with college degrees. In 2016, exit polls indicated he won the group 51% to 43%.
CBS News polling also showed Biden leading among White college-educated voters 55% to 43%. White women with college degrees were critical for Whitmer in 2018. She won White women with college degrees 62% to 36%, after Hillary Clinton won that group 50% to 44%, according to exit polls. Democrats are hoping to duplicate Whitmer’s success with college-educated voters in places like Oakland County and in Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, a longtime Republican stronghold that Whitmer carried by 4.2 points in 2018.
The president’s success with White working-class voters was critical to his 2016 victory. He won Macomb and Monroe counties outside of Detroit, but also flipped working-class areas in mid-Michigan like Saginaw County, which is had been safely Democratic. Mr. Trump also won Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which has many White working-class voters, by 18.6 points. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the Upper Peninsula by 3.3 points. But Biden may be encroaching a little on Mr. Trump’s margins among White voters without college degrees. In October, CBS News polling found Mr. Trump led 61% to 37% among those voters, down from his 31-point margin with the group in 2016.
Democrats are also working to increase turnout in cities with large populations of Black voters, including Detroit and Flint. Three days before the election, Biden and former President Obama held drive-in events in both cities, hoping to juice enthusiasm among supporters. Turnout in Detroit fell by more than 41,000 votes from 2012 to 2016 in a city where Clinton won 94.4% of the vote. Mr. Trump also shaved Democratic margins in Genesee County, home to Flint. Mr. Obama won Genesee by 32.5 points in 2008 and 28.2 points in 2012, but Clinton carried it by just 9.5 points in 2016.