Michigan: Obama Would Have Won Without Detroit

Photograph by David Guralnick/The Detroit News/AP Photo

Volunteer Nsombe Iamodou works the phone bank at the campaign headquarters of President Barack Obama in Detroit the day before the election, on Nov. 5, 2012.

President Barack Obama’s bid for votes in Detroit could have gone bankrupt  in the Nov. 6 election. He still would have beaten Republican Mitt Romney in Michigan.

In fact, the president would have won Michigan excluding all of Wayne County, which includes Detroit, and next-door Oakland County, which has voted Democratic in five straight presidential elections after decades of Republican dominance.

Obama won Michigan, which has 16 electoral votes, by margins of 449,313 votes and 9.5 percentage points, according to an official tally of votes released yesterday by the state elections board. Obama won Wayne by 382,032 votes and 47 points, and carried Oakland, where Romney grew up, by 52,488 votes and eight points.

While Obama’s Michigan vote share fell to 54.2 percent on Nov. 6 from 57.4 percent in 2008, the president still won the state handily. Obama’s showing in Michigan in 2008 was the best by a Democrat presidential candidate in 44 years. His drop-offs from four years ago were especially modest in major population centers.

In Wayne, Obama fell by just 1.1 points, to 73 percent from 74.1 percent in 2008, his smallest drop in the state. In Macomb County north of Detroit, Obama fell by just 1.9 points, to 51.5 percent from 53.4 percent. In Genesee County, which envelops Flint, Obama also fell by just 1.9 points, to 63.6 percent from 65.5 percent.

The president took 63 percent in Ingham County, which includes the state capital of Lansing and Michigan State University in East Lansing, and 67 percent in Washtenaw County, which takes in the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Some Republican officials said in the waning days of the campaign that Michigan was politically competitive, partly because of Romney’s ties to the state where he was born and raised and his father served as governor. Restore Our Future, the main pro-Romney super-political action committee, supplied 1,627 Michigan ads in the 14-day period ended Nov. 6, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG. Seven other anti-Obama groups, including the nonprofit organizations Americans for Prosperity and American Future Fund, paid for a combined 974 spots. Obama’s campaign ran 425 spots in Michigan from Nov. 1-6, CMAG data show.

As it turned out, the Michigan race wasn’t close. The president’s 9.5 point win exceeded Romney’s margin of victory in Georgia and Arizona. Democrats have won six consecutive presidential elections in Michigan, matching the number of times that the state voted Democratic in the 34 elections between 1856 and 1988.

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