Battleground States


Battleground States: Michigan

July 31, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
Unemployment is among the top concerns for voters in Michigan, where the auto industry has deteriorated in recent years. The state is one of several battleground states in which local races may influence the outcome of national contests.


Michigan native Mitt Romney won the Republican primary in January 2008, promising jobs to workers suffering job cuts due to the state’s collapsing auto industry. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary, although her two main opponents, Barack Obama and John Edwards, did not appear on the ballot. Both candidates withdrew their names because the state scheduled its presidential primary too early, which resulted in its disqualification.

Key Players

According to recent poll, only 11 percent of Michigan voters are satisfied with their legislators. Democrat Jennifer Granholm continues to serve as Governor even though her time in office is characterized by Michigan’s budget crisis and tax increases during an already difficult economic period. Granholm, a Clinton supporter, clashed with Obama in January when his allies prevented Michigan from holding a revote of the Democratic primary. She later publicly supported Obama when Clinton endorsed the senator.

Possible Outcomes

Michigan, which holds 17 electoral votes in the presidential election, suffers from the highest unemployment rate in the country. Voters tend to favor candidates who empathize with their situation and call for change. Michigan has voted in favor of Democratic presidential candidates—Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry—since 1992. However the gap between Democratic and Republican votes has been narrowing each year. Current polls show Obama with a 3 percentage point lead over McCain, but Republican Rep. Brian Calley of Michigan points out that “Republicans can pin $1.5 billion in tax increases on Democrats—a potentially strong argument as the cost of living rises in a stagnant economy.”

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