LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The race between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden was too early to call in battleground Michigan early Wednesday, with many votes uncounted.
So were the state’s most competitive Senate contest in 20 years and several closely watched House races. Detroit, Michigan’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold, was not expected to finish counting until Wednesday night as it processed a surge of absentee ballots.
“I expect we’ll have a clear picture, if not a final picture, of the unofficial results from Michigan within the next 24 hours,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
A look at the election:
Trump smashed the “blue wall” in his first White House bid, narrowly winning Michigan and two other states that had not backed a Republican nominee in decades. The margin of victory in Michigan, about two-tenths of a percentage point, was the closest of any state in 2016.
Michigan was critical this time around, too, and turnout was high. Benson said at least 3.2 million absentee ballots were returned — a record — and she projected an additional 2 million to 2.5 million were cast in person. The total would surpass the high of 5 million votes in the 2008 presidential election.
Biden, determined not to take the state for granted while leading in polls, visited three times in October — once in the final week — speaking at small events with social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Running mate Kamala Harris campaigned in Detroit on Tuesday afternoon.
Trump campaigned in the state six times since September, including four days in the final week, holding big rallies. He again closed his campaign in Grand Rapids on the eve of the election, as he did four years ago.
He focused attention on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is not up for reelection until 2022. Whitmer took aggressive steps to curb the coronavirus in a state that was a hot spot nationally early on and — after she criticized the federal response — drew criticism from Trump, who in March urged Vice President Mike Pence not to call “the woman in Michigan” and in April tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” He continued to criticize her after authorities announced they had thwarted an alleged plot to kidnap her.
Michigan’s Senate race between one-term Democratic Sen. Gary Peters and Republican challenger John James was too early to call. Peters, eyeing a second term, faced a tough challenge from the Black business executive and combat veteran who was looking to become just the second Michigan Republican to serve in the Senate in more than 40 years. Democrats likely could not afford to lose the seat if they were to flip four to take the majority. A deluge of TV ads reflected it was a heavily contested race.
In the 2018 midterm, Democrats Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens flipped Republican-held House districts in suburban Detroit and appear poised to keep them. The battleground shifted westward in 2020.
With five-term Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash’s retirement, Hillary Scholten hoped to become the first House Democrat in 44 years and just the second in over a century to represent Grand Rapids — if she could defeat Republican Peter Meijer in the 3rd District.
In southwestern Michigan’s 6th District, 17-term GOP Rep. Fred Upton beat Democrat Jon Hoadley, who was looking to become the state’s first openly gay congressman.
Democrats must net at least four seats to control the state House for the first time in a decade. A Democratic majority would set the agenda and ease Whitmer’s ability to enact legislation. Whitmer has campaigned for candidates in places like suburban Detroit, Kalamazoo and Traverse City. The Republican-led Senate is not up for election.
The Michigan Supreme Court’s recent 4-3 decision to strike down a law that underpinned Whitmer’s COVID-19 emergency orders put extra attention on the race for two seats. Justice Stephen Markman, author of the opinion, is retiring.
If Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Elizabeth Welch win, Democratic nominees will be in the court’s majority for the first time since 2010 and could rule on restrictions that were reinstated by the Whitmer administration after the ruling. Republicans nominated Mary Kelly and Brock Swartzle. McCormack was leading, and while Welch and Kelly were battling for second.
Michigan voters were poised to overwhelmingly adopt two amendments to the state constitution. One would change how royalties paid by developers of state-owned minerals — primarily oil and natural gas — can be spent under a popular program that buys land for public use and supports projects such as construction of trails, playgrounds and boat launches. The other would require a search warrant before police examine a wireless phone or other electronic devices.
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