March 11, 2020


Michigan Romp Shows Biden Could Rebuild Democrats' 'Blue Wall' vs. TrumpA broad, convincing win should make Republicans nervous about November. (Tim Alberta, 3/11/20, Politico)

Maybe you've never heard of Livingston County, Michigan. It's not Oakland County, the vote-rich behemoth located next door; nor is it Macomb County, the much-mythologized home of the culturally conservative "Reagan Democrats" who began defecting to the Republican Party decades ago. It's a lot less populated, and a little too far from Detroit, to attract much notice from journalists and pundits. And yet, as the returns rolled in Tuesday night from Michigan's primary, it was Livingston that told the most compelling story. Not for what it said about Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, but for what it said about Donald Trump.

Four years ago, Livingston was a safe haven for Republicans. Voters there--white, educated, upper-class commuters who head east to Detroit, south to Ann Arbor and west to Lansing--gave no hint of a coming realignment. The county's congressional seat, property of the GOP for 15 years, was locked down. Its political culture, anchored by a love of God, guns and tax cuts, seemed uncrackable. When the presidential primaries were held, the Republican contest attracted nearly three times more voters than the Democratic counterpart. Trump carried the county by 30 points against Hillary Clinton in November 2016, arguably his most impressive pound-for-pound showing in the state.

Today, Republicans are looking over their shoulders in Livingston County--and for good reason. They're not worried Trump is going to lose there; they're not worried about a wholesale change in the area's political DNA. They're worried about the only thing that matters in Michigan: margins. The reason Livingston is now represented by a Democrat in Congress is because Elissa Slotkin, the freshman Democrat, only lost the county by 19 points, limiting the damage in a way that allowed her to eke out an upset win with strong performances elsewhere in the 8th District.

There was a temptation for Republicans to dismiss Slotkin's victory as an outlier, to not sweat a 30-point margin slipping to a 19-point margin. But there can no longer be any doubt about the trajectory of Livingston County and the trouble it poses for the GOP: In Tuesday's Democratic primary, there were 27,458 votes cast in the county--compared to 17,591 four years ago. For Democratic turnout to jump 56 percent in any affluent, well-educated suburb is incredible; for it to happen in a deeply, fundamentally conservative place like Livingston County is astounding. Some people might think a difference of some 10,000 votes is no big deal. But in a state that was decided by some 10,000 votes, it's a very big deal.

Biden had a spectacular showing on Tuesday, winning every single county in Michigan and blowing Sanders out in three other states that voted, essentially sealing the nomination by leaving his lone rival no plausible path forward. But the big takeaway from the day's big prize, Michigan, isn't that Biden is a spectacular candidate. The big takeaway is that he doesn't need to be.

Two things happened on Tuesday in Michigan. First, Democratic turnout exploded. Second, Biden performed far better with key demographic groups than Clinton did four years ago. If either one of those things happen in November, Trump will have a difficult time winning the state again. If both things happen, the president can kiss Michigan's 16 electoral votes goodbye--and with them, more than likely, the electoral votes of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

There goes the White House.

That's why your Trumpie friends are hysterical about Uncle Joe.

Posted by at March 11, 2020 4:00 AM