2016-11-10 / Columns

Late Presidential Surge in Michigan

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

In the final hours of the presidential campaign, Michigan emerged as a prime battleground as the candidates, their running mates, families, and other surrogates swarmed a state that has not voted for a Republican for president since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

This week’s lineup as of this writing: Republican nominee Donald Trump was scheduled Sunday in Sterling Heights; former President Bill Clinton on behalf of his wife in Lansing, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka in the Grand Rapids suburb of Hudsonville on Monday.

Also on Monday, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was scheduled to be in Grand Rapids, President Barack Obama on her behalf in Ann Arbor, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, in Traverse City.

Last week, Trump was in Warren and Grand Rapids. Son Donald and daughter Ivanka were elsewhere in Michigan.

On behalf of Trump, Pence campaigned in Portage near Kalamazoo with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who finished second in the Michigan GOP presidential primary.

Pence said: “A week ago all of Hillary Clinton’s allies in the media were saying the race was all but over, but I think you in Michigan know better. You know here in Michigan this race is on.”

Indeed. On Saturday, the Detroit Free Press headlined atop page one on its story about its poll by EPIC-MRA: “Trump gains in Michigan. Clinton’s lead shrinks to four points, 42% to 38%, on last weekend before election.” She was ahead 11 points in early October.

In the poll of 600 likely voters, Libertarian Gary Johnson had 5% and Green Party contender Jill Stein 2%.

Also last week, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was in her third visit to Michigan since her nomination.

Among the surrogates for Clinton was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who won the Michigan Democratic primary but lost to Clinton in the Democratic nomination race, campaigned for her in Traverse City and Kalamazoo.

As Bill Clinton said last week in Detroit, about the close polls, “It’s a turnout race.” For his wife, the need is a big turnout of women and blacks.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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