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  • These 18 states,

  • along with Washington, DC,

  • for a long time, were known asthe blue wall.”

  • And we called it that because,

  • starting in 1992,

  • each one of those places voted for a Democrat for president,

  • again, and again, and again,

  • and, well actually--

  • The blue wall, right?!”

  • In 2016, Donald Trump won by breaking the blue wall.

  • We didn't break it, we shattered that sucker.”

  • And the way he shattered that sucker

  • is that he won three blue wall states:

  • Pennsylvania, Wisconsin,

  • and, just barely, and in maybe the biggest surprise:

  • Michigan.

  • Michigan, a state that was supposed to be a lock for Hillary Clinton.”

  • Michigan has been blue for a long time.”

  • Michigan, isn't that one of the pillars of the infamous blue wall?”

  • But here's something that people missed aboutblue wallMichigan.

  • Even though Michigan had consistently voted

  • for Democrats for president over the years,

  • it wasn't as blue as it looked.

  • By 2016,

  • Michigan already had a Republican governor and a Republican legislature,

  • and it had been that way for some time.

  • During the 2010s,

  • that Republican state government had undermined unions...

  • so-called right-to-work legislation

  • ...restricted abortion...

  • The bill is passed.”

  • ...loosened environmental protections...

  • Controversy surrounding this oil refinery.”

  • So Trump winning Michigan didn't really come out of nowhere.

  • But then, in 2018,

  • Michigan elected a Democrat as governor.

  • In 2020, it voted for Joe Biden over Trump.

  • And in 2022, in a midterm election

  • that was expected to be a red wave,

  • Democrats won every elected branch of Michigan's state government --

  • for the first time in 40 years.

  • So now Michigan was blue...

  • again, I guess.

  • And its new blue government got to work fast:

  • repealing some of the Republicanssignature legislation...

  • The first state to repeal a right-to-work law in decades.”

  • ...expanding anti-discrimination laws...

  • The bill is passed.”

  • ...and pouring money into the state's transition to clean energy.

  • Michigan, a national leader in the fight against climate change.”

  • In this video, we're going to ask why Michigan went so red, and then so blue.

  • What do political scientists say, what does the data say...

  • Because, maybe Michigan is just a swing state,

  • and this is what it looks like when a swing state swings.

  • But the forces pushing these swings

  • tell us a lot about the US right now - and about our next election.

  • So let's go back to this timeline of big Michigan elections,

  • and we'll start here.

  • In 2008.

  • Michigan voted for Barack Obama for president,

  • and for a Democratic state House of Representatives.

  • But the next election would turn out differently.

  • 2010 is really a response to 2008.

  • We see a blowback to Obama's national policies.

  • In 2010, Republicans won control of the whole state.

  • And the reason that matters is because the next year, 2011,

  • was a redistricting year.

  • Which means Michigan Republicans were in charge of redrawing these:

  • Maps of the state's political districts.

  • Maps that can favor one party or another, depending

  • on which voters they draw into which districts.

  • The new maps they drew looked like this.

  • And as you can see:

  • well...

  • it's kind of hard to tell, actually.

  • If you just sort of look at the map, it doesn't look too gerrymandered.

  • But once those maps took effect, in the 2012 election,

  • the impact was clear.

  • Let's just look at these.

  • The state House of Representatives districts.

  • If you added up the votes across all of these districts in 2012,

  • Republicans only won about 46% of that vote,

  • but they ended up with 59 out of 110 seats,

  • which was a majority.

  • Meaning, they had successfully skewed this map in their favor.

  • And for the rest of the decade, Michigan Republicans

  • actually never won a majority of the statewide vote

  • for the House of Representatives, but they always won a majority of its seats.

  • Which kind of tells us something about this whole period.

  • Redistricting explains the whole thing.

  • If not for Republican complete control of redistricting in 2012,

  • Michigan would look a lot different,

  • throughout the whole decade and even into today.

  • So Michigan wasn't as red as it looked either.

  • But redistricting doesn't actually explain everything.

  • For example, 2016,

  • which is when Michigan, the whole state,

  • broke the blue wall.

  • So what was going on there?

  • This chart looks at how close the vote was in every state

  • in the 2016 presidential election.

  • And Michigan is all the way at the end over here,

  • the closest state in 2016,

  • voting for Trump by a margin of 0.23%.

  • When it's such a close margin, we could find

  • a dozen different reasons.

  • That's true, lot of factors here.

  • Let's just start with one or two of them.

  • This is a map of all the counties in Michigan.

  • There are 83 of them,

  • and on the map, a lot of them are geographically the same size.

  • But if you were to resize each county

  • according to how many voters there are in each one,

  • that would look more like this.

  • As you might be able to tell,

  • these three counties alone

  • make up a huge part of the state's population.

  • So the way that they vote matters a ton.

  • So let's start here:

  • in Macomb County.

  • Macomb County, just north of Detroit.”

  • Traditionally Democratic, overwhelmingly white.”

  • Historically home to autoworkers, union members...”

  • Between 2000 and 2010, half of the manufacturing jobs in Macomb vanished.”

  • Demographically, Macomb is very...

  • white working class.

  • Before 2016, Macomb was a bellwether.

  • A bellwether - meaning it voted kind of like the rest of the country.

  • So, this chart shows how Macomb County voted

  • for president in the years before 2016.

  • These are years that voted for the Democrat for president,

  • this is when it voted for the Republican,

  • and the height is the margin of victory.

  • And now let's do the thing where we add

  • how the whole US voted each year.

  • And notice how closely Macomb always matches the country as a whole.

  • A bellwether.

  • Until...

  • 2016.

  • 2016 changes all that,

  • and it can come down to one word, and that's Trump.

  • God bless you, Michigan.

  • God bless you.”

  • He just shifts things dramatically in Macomb County.

  • Focused on trade, manufacturing...

  • Michigan has lost one in four manufacturing jobs.”

  • This area is a manufacturing area.

  • A lot of people are affected by losing their jobs.”

  • We will stop the jobs from leaving Michigan.”

  • Job creation. Not doing all our jobs offshore.”

  • We're going to bring a lot of industry back to our country

  • The opportunity to earn a living and take care of our families.

  • Put us all to work.”

  • Talking about car jobs

  • is one way that Trump takes Macomb from this to this.

  • But...

  • it's not the only way.

  • We're seeing Trump stoke racial resentment,

  • which has, in Macomb, always been, sort of, unfortunate to say, popular.

  • Look at the city of Detroit.

  • Nearly half of Detroit residents do not work.”

  • OK, that's not true,

  • incidentally, unless your data includes children and the elderly.

  • But while we're here,

  • let's talk about Detroit,

  • which is right next door to Macomb County,

  • in Wayne County.

  • The city of Detroit is about 78% black,

  • and it typically votes between 93% and 98% Democratic.

  • And in a place with such consistent voting patterns,

  • it really helps to look at turnout.

  • Politically speaking, when Detroit shows up,

  • it's hard for Republicans

  • to be able to win the state.

  • This chart shows how many people voted in Detroit