Presidential races

Clinton seeks to avoid Michigan upset


Hillary Clinton’s campaign isn’t taking any chances in Michigan. 

The Democratic presidential nominee will visit Detroit on Friday, spending crucial hours in the final days of the campaign in a state that hasn’t gone to a Republican in a presidential election since 1988.  

{mosads}Sources close to the Clinton campaign insist they are confident she’ll win Michigan over Republican Donald Trump, characterizing the visit as an insurance policy. But they acknowledge support for her in the state is “a little soft.”

“Michigan is part of our thought-out strategy,” said one ally close to the campaign.  

“We’re going to make sure they have the resources they need. When they say we need this to win, they’ll get it. It’s a state that needs care and feeding. We want to make sure they’re not an afterthought.”

Clinton has led every major poll of Michigan aggregated by RealClearPolitics, and her lead in the site’s polling average sits at 7 percentage points. 

Her visit to Detroit is part of a broader push into blue states where Democrats historically have the upper hand. On Tuesday, the campaign moved forward with six-figure ad buys in Virginia, Michigan, New Mexico and Colorado, states where Clinton has long held the lead in polls.

Surrogates for Clinton are out in full force as well. Chelsea Clinton, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have all traveled to Michigan in the past week.   

Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, was in Detroit Wednesday night meeting with ministers, The Hill has learned. A spokesman said he’d be doing a constituency meeting and not holding any public events. 

Trump has upped his investment in Michigan, expanding advertising buys there while sending his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to Portage, Mich., on Thursday. Trump campaigned in Michigan on Monday, and his campaign has claimed momentum in the state, seeing it as fertile ground for his anti-trade message.

The Republican path to 270 electoral votes is much narrower than Clinton’s, so an upset in Michigan would significantly increase Trump’s chances of winning.  

But Republicans have tried and failed to turn Michigan red in the past. Mitt Romney, who was born and raised in Michigan, made a late push for the state in 2012 before losing it to President Obama by almost 10 points. 

Clinton allies portray the late activity in Michigan as a way to mobilize the Democratic base, noting that there is limited early voting in the state.

“The Trump campaign claims their path to the White House is through states like these but we’re going to make sure those doors remain shut,” said Jesse Ferguson, Clinton deputy national press secretary, in a statement announcing the ad buys in Michigan and other blue states. 

“Fueled by record breaking fundraising in the last 72 two hours, we are supercharging our [get-out-the-vote] program with these ads to make sure voters know the urgency and the stakes of voting on November 8th.”

But while many Republicans view Michigan as an uphill climb for Trump, former Michigan GOP chairman Dave Doyle said Clinton’s moves show the state is competitive. 

“Clearly they are concerned about turnout and trying to gin up their base,” he said.

Doyle said a lack of down-ballot races in Detroit means that Clinton’s visit is aimed solely at helping her bid, unlike other trips she’s taken to help out Democrats. 

“There’s obviously some concern on their part. The odds are Hillary still carries the state, but who knows what’s going to happen in an election like this,” he said. 

If there are concerns for Clinton in Michigan, they are likely centered on the black and millennial vote, two crucial parts of Obama’s winning 2012 coalition. Sixteen percent of Michigan voters in 2012 were black, and 95 percent of them voted for Obama. He also won a strong majority of voters under the age of 30. 

Early-voter turnout among African-Americans has dropped from 2012 in a number of battleground states, according to analysis from The New York Times. Millennials have wrestled with their choices this election cycle, although there are signs that those voters are coming home to Clinton. 

Clinton lost Michigan to Sanders during the Democratic primaries in what was seen as a major upset.

Yet Steve Mitchell, who conducts the daily Fox 2 Detroit/Mitchell Poll in Michigan, told The Hill that Clinton seems to be in “good shape,” noting that he expects her to win a similar percentage of black and young voters as Obama.  

That makes turnout key for Clinton’s efforts, Mitchell said. His polling projects a slightly lower turnout for both groups, thanks to Obama’s disappearance from the top of the ticket and lost votes from millennials who wanted Sanders as the nominee. 

Despite those factors, Mitchell called Clinton’s lead stable and said she’s likely to win the state thanks in no small part to the Democratic stronghold of Detroit, the seat of Wayne County that has a large African-American population.  

“There’s potential for some movement but I don’t know if there’s enough time to allow Trump to take Michigan,” he said. 

“If they vote in the same numbers that they voted in four years ago, the Democratic candidate starts off with a pretty good lead. You come out of Wayne County with a 150,000 vote lead — that’s a great cushion to have in an election that will be about 4.2 million votes.”

Friday’s rally also has a secondary purpose for Clinton — the Detroit media market bleeds into Toledo, Ohio, putting her on the local airwaves in another battleground.

One Democrat who worked for Obama’s campaign in Michigan said there’s no panic for the party in the Wolverine State.  

“Given that this campaign is so tightly run on data, it doesn’t give me pause,” the Democrat said.

“If the national campaign feels like one more rally in Detroit seals it, then it’s money well spent.”

Tags Bernie Sanders Bill Clinton Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Mike Pence Tim Kaine

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video