Late push in blue-collar Michigan pays off for Trump team

State picks Republican president for the first time in nearly 30 years in another crushing blow to Clinton

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 9:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 11:54pm

Donald Trump’s seizing of Michigan, which last picked a Republican president in 1988, shocked political scientists across the country.

Since propelling George HW Bush into the White House, Michigan voters had been loyal Democrat supporters for 28 years. President Barack Obama carried the state by 9.5 per cent in 2012.

It was not until the final stretch of the campaign that Trump’s team started to crack Michigan. His campaign sensed an opening in the final week, buying ads and holding a rally in a late rush. Hillary Clinton also campaigned hard in the key battleground state.

As key swing states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio fell to Trump during the evening, Clinton was clinging to Michigan as her last hope.

Exit polls showed that half of the state’s electorate felt trade deals had taken away jobs, and they supported Trump by a 57 per cent to 36 per cent split. The 31 per cent who thought such deals had created jobs backed Clinton by a 65 per cent to 31 per cent margin.

Michigan was hit hard by the great recession and shift of manufacturing jobs overseas. But the economy has improved in recent years.

Exit polls showed that 37 per cent of Michigan voters felt their family’s financial situation had improved, and these overwhelmingly supported Clinton.

Neighbouring Wisconsin was similarly intriguing. Last electing a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, in 1980, the Rust Belt state also turned its back on Clinton.

Trump counted on rural areas of the state, such as Eau Claire, where he took 70 per cent of votes, with affluent, suburban Republicans in populous areas that went for Ted Cruz in the primary.

His success in Wisconsin defied a poll by Marquette University Law School that is usually credible and showed him losing by 6 per cent.