MEMO: Michigan Democrats See Enthusiasm in August Primaries

Tuesday’s primary results continue to show increased enthusiasm among Democrats heading into November. The August primary comes on the heels of record turnout in March’s presidential primary that saw turnout increases in all 83 counties across the state. This turnout shattered the Democratic record by 30 percent.

Stats from Tuesday’s primary: 

  • In absentee voting alone, over 1.6 million Michiganders voted in Tuesday’s primary. That’s already over 450,000 more votes than in all of the 2016 primary. 
  • While we don’t have final results, it’s clear key Democratic base counties saw spikes in turnout over August 2016 primaries.
    • Wayne County turnout increased by over 115%
    • Washtenaw County saw over 100,000 voters, an increase of over 165%
    • In Genesee County, turnout nearly doubled, increasing by 96%
  • The increase in absentee voting was especially pronounced in counties that supported Clinton, with a 223.8% increase 

BACKGROUND: Increased turnout for Dems in Michigan. 

The enthusiastic electorate reflects a March Presidential primary that saw Democrats fired up and ready to send a message to Donald Trump and Republicans up and down the ticket. As a reminder, here are some of the topline trends (compared to the 2016 primary) the MDP saw:

  • Michigan Democrats built on the success of the 2018 midterms:
    • Suburban counties saw an increase of 44.3%.
    • In 2018 Red to Blue districts (MI-08 and MI-11), turnout increased by 57.39%.
    • 2020 Red to Blue target district MI-03 saw a 42.5% turnout jump.
  • Democrats turned out in key battleground counties:
    • Kent County saw a 46.8% spike in voter turnout.
    • Turnout in Oakland County was up 44.3%.

Detroit News: In ‘turnout explosion,’ Michigan Democratic primary voters set record

  • Turnout in Tuesday’s presidential primary in Michigan surged as Democratic voters in polling places across the battleground state said they were motivated by a desire to take on President Donald Trump.
  • An analysis of the results showed all 83 counties experienced an increase in turnout for the Democratic primary compared with four years ago. The jumps ranged from 4% to 65%.
  • In Oakland and Macomb counties in southeast Michigan — two counties that are key to Democrats’ chances in November — Democratic turnout rose 44% and 33% respectively. In Wayne County, the state’s largest county, turnout was up 15%.

NYT: How Biden’s Victory in Michigan Points to Trouble for Trump in November

  • The turnout and demographic patterns of voters, from African-Americans in Detroit to affluent suburbanites to working-class white voters in rural areas, provided evidence of a broader Democratic coalition than the party mobilized in 2016, a powerful warning shot to the Trump campaign.
  • What stands out about Mr. Biden’s victory on Tuesday is that he performed well not only among his bedrock supporters, black voters, but also drew solid backing from other key demographic groups — including college-educated white women, moderates and those over 45 — in a primary that shattered Democratic turnout records by more than 30 percent.
  • Turnout in the Democratic primary on Tuesday was up 40 percent in suburban counties, and 44 percent specifically in Oakland County, the second most populous county in the state after Detroit’s Wayne County.

NBC News: In Detroit, signs of increased interest among Black voters, but concerns remain 

  • Early data in Michigan do suggest that interest among Black voters is high. In Detroit, where 80 percent of the population is Black, City Clerk Janice Winfrey said she has already received more than 90,000 requests for absentee ballots for the Senate primary on Tuesday — the most ever, eclipsing even past general elections.
  • In the 2018 midterm election, Black turnout in Wayne County, where Detroit is located, rose sharply compared to the previous midterm election, in 2014 — from 38 percent to 54 percent.

Beginning in 2017, the Michigan Democratic Party took unprecedented steps to organize, talk to Democratic voters, and get out the vote like never before. Now, the coordinated campaign is building on this early work with an infrastructure for Biden and Democrats at every level of the ticket that is unmatched, and will carry Democrats to victory. The organization’s hard work is reflected in the dramatic increase in voting throughout the state, reflecting the coordinated campaign’s 83 county strategy.

  • The coordinated campaign and Michigan Democratic Party has 7X the organizing presence in the state as we did in 2016 at this time.
  • We have organizers doing this work in every single part of the state, including 19 Detroit based organizers.
  • There’s a robust African-American Outreach program including a full-time Director, Deputy Director, and organizers dedicated to African-American outreach. The program includes a focus on the intersection of voting rights and the Black community, working to involve returning citizens and other populations historically affected by voter suppression efforts.
  • The coordinated campaign has a full-time Voter Protection team who is leading an aggressive voter education effort and working to defend the rights of Michigan voters, especially in communities of color.
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