Michigan again expected to be a key election battleground

(AP) — Michigan represented one of President Donald Trump’s closest victories in 2016.

And one of his most important.

The Great Lakes State again is expected to be a key battleground this time around.

“If you take the states that turned unexpectedly in the last election and turn them back, it’s game over,” said Jeffrey L. Bernstein, a political science professor at Eastern Michigan University. “And that’s one of the reasons that Michigan is obviously a very important state.”

Trump won Michigan by only 10,704 votes in 2016, helping him breach the Democrats’ “blue wall.”

Trump aides had all but written off the state this year, but now say they have seen a tightening. Democrats see optimism, too, having made major gains there in the 2018 midterms, winning every major statewide office and a handful of congressional seats as well.

“We’re ready to win here in Michigan this cycle,” said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign has said it sees multiple ways to secure the 270 Electoral College votes it needs to win in November. But the quickest path may just run through Michigan, as well as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Marian Sheridan, a Trump supporter from West Bloomfield Township in vote-rich Oakland County outside of Detroit, says she hopes her fellow voters return the president to the White House.

“He’s not polished. He’s not a perfect speaker,” Sheridan said. “But that resonates with me, because I want somebody that’s genuine.”

Biden is focusing on the economy and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus — two issues he hopes will resonate with key voters nationwide, but particularly in states like Michigan, which took one of the sharpest hits from the pandemic.

“There’s been several things that he (Trump) has done that makes it so scary to live right now,” said JoAnne McAllister, a Biden supporter from Superior Township, near Ann Arbor. “And to think of him being in for another four years, it would be devastating to me.”