Michigan was one of the last states to count all its votes Wednesday morning — finishing many hours after the election itself was called — with the delay in part due to Washtenaw County.
Earlier in the night, the unexpected tightness of the race drew significant national attention as a potential tipping point for the general election, but the presidential race was ultimately called for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at about 2:30 a.m. without Michigan’s electoral votes, after he won several battleground states. The outcome of the state will not impact the outcome of the general election.
Statewide with all precincts reporting, Trump carried 47.6 percent of the vote, with Democratic presidential nominee Clinton trailing close behind with 47.3 percent.
The state, along with several of the ones that spurred Trump to victory, was originally supposed to be a part of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s “blue wall” in the Midwest. In the leadup to the election, Michigan was expected to vote blue, as it has in elections since 1988. But especially in the past few weeks, it’s been suggested that the state could swing from to red, as a large lead that Clinton initially held in the state dwindled in the past few weeks from 11 percent to 3 percent. Similar to other states that emerged as unexpected battlegrounds in Trump’s path to victory Tuesday evening, the state came into question as a potential upset for Trump as the race narrowed. In 2012, President Barack Obama carried the state by 9.5 points.
Because of the narrowing of the race, Michigan experienced an influx of campaign events immediately prior to Election Day from both parties. Clinton visited Grand Rapids on Monday night and President Barack Obama visited Ann Arbor Monday morning to campaign for Clinton. Later that night, Trump and his vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence (R–Ind.) also rallied in Grand Rapids. Along with Obama, surrogates for both candidates visited throughout the week.
In Washtenaw County itself — a typically heavily blue area — precincts were not fully reported until late Wednesday morning, one of the latest in the state. With 100 percent reporting, Clinton carried 67.59 percent of the county. Trump carried 26.64 percent, and 5 percent of the vote went to third-party or write-in candidates. In Obama’s 2012 victory, he won 67.04 percent of the vote in Washtenaw County.
Overall, voter turnout in the county totalled 65 percent.
On campus specifically, turnout in districts with high numbers of student this year were larger than in 2012. In Ward 1 Precinct 1 at the Michigan Union in 2012, 761 people voted with a 31 percent turnout rate; at the Michigan League in Ward 3 precinct 1 there was a 29 percent turnout rate with 684 ballots cast; in Ward 3 precinct 2 1,076 people voted for a 36 percent turnout rate.
For 2016 turnout, 2,764 people voted in Ward 1 precinct 1 at the Michigan Union; at the Michigan League in Ward 3 precinct 1, 1197 ballots were cast; and in Ward 3 precinct 2, 1,261 people voted.
Communications Prof. Josh Pasek, an expert on public opinion and polling, said results of the outcome in Michigan could have come down to singular votes.
“Functionally anybody could have made the difference in the state,” he said. “Any switch would have the chance to shift Michigan … What this means for the student vote, one lesson that should be very apparent is that if you think your vote isn’t going to be the marginal one and you end up voting for a third party or something else, you have an incredible ability to make a difference.”
“We are incredibly excited with the current numbers and continue to look forward to the final results,” said LSA junior Enrique Zalamea, president of the University of Michigan’s chapter of
College Republicans, Tuesday night.
A number of Republican students on campus gathered earlier in the evening for a watch party as the polls closed, expressing a mix of both optimism and acknowledgement of polling numbers that had shown Clinton taking a lead.
In contrast, across campus and the city, many residents and members of the University community also expressed shock and concern about the results as they were announced throughout Wednesday morning.
Washtenaw County Commissioner and state representative candidate Yousef Rabhi said Tuesday night that he was shocked by the outcome of the election so far in Michigan, but remains optimistic.
“I’m really having trouble formulating my thoughts on this. It’s terrifying to me that people in my state are this bigoted and racist to vote for someone like this,” he said. “I’m very disappointed in my fellow Michiganders, but I’m hopeful that we can still pull out a victory for Clinton.”