In 2016, President Trump’s narrow win in Michigan helped him secure his presidential victory. In 2018, voters elected a wave of Democratic candidates in the midterms. Now, both parties have already begun to focus their attention on Michigan, which they predict may be a critical swing state in 2020. During a rally in Warren, Michigan on Friday, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said that voters in the state helped start a “political revolution” by embracing ideas once viewed as radical, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 and switching to a single-payer healthcare system. He hopes now that he can find enough support for his platform among Michigan residents, especially workers frustrated with Trump’s trade policies. Trump also sought to engage Michigan workers during his March 28 rally, stressing his commitment to the state’s automotive industry.
Besides Sanders and Trump, several other candidates have made Michigan a campaign priority. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and former Representative Beto O’Rourke both made visits to the state shortly after announcing their intentions to run for president. Senator Amy Klobuchar, another Democratic presidential candidate, will visit Detroit in May. Early polling suggests that loyalty to Trump might be declining among Michigan voters as the 2020 election approaches, but he still maintains plenty of support in the state. A statewide poll conducted by EPICMRA in March indicated that 49 percent of those surveyed planned to vote to replace Trump, and only 31 percent claimed they would reelect him. Democrats seeking a platform in Michigan have also been able to take advantage of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s support. Whitmer has shown willingness to help candidates campaign and connect with local organizations across the state, and her influence may help fellow Democrats build on her success.
Part of the reason Democrats have put so much energy into campaigning in Michigan is that many regret their lack of attention to the state in 2016. Gillibrand admitted during an event in Auburn Hills that Oakland County was one of the places that got left behind in the last election. “They didn’t feel like the Democrats were going to help them,” she said, according to MLive News. “Michiganders deserve to have a voice in our politics.” Whitmer agrees. “It’s very early, but Michigan is an important state,” she said at a campaign stop in March. “I think it’s critical that all the candidates get to Michigan and engage with Michigan voters.”