Michigan shaping up to be a crucial battleground state in 2020

Published: Nov. 5, 2019 at 1:48 PM EST
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Tuesday is Election Day 2019, but the 2020 presidential race is dominating much of the conversation. That election is less than a year away, and many are calling it a referendum on the Trump administration.

"It's clearly a referendum, I mean, we're voting for the president, so it's not even a referendum, we're just saying, we want more of you or we don't want more of you," said Steven Reynolds, professor of political science at Northern Michigan University.

Donald Trump's presidential victory in 2016 was the result of winning key battleground states like Michigan.

It's lower stakes this year with plenty of local elections seeing low turnout. Next November, the polls are expected to be packed, but cities like Marquette will be ready.

“In any election it's all the same work for myself and my staff, all the preparation that, when you walk into a polling location you just see as seamless, starts about two months ahead of time," said Marquette City Clerk Chris Hazeres.

Everyone involved with the election will be working tirelessly during that crunch time.

Trump won Michigan in 2016 by the narrowest margin in the history of the state, and he will likely be facing a bigger challenge in the coming year, against a Democratic Party looking to spend a lot of money in the region.

"You're going to see a lot of advertising, we'll be tired by the time that November 3 rolls around and the election actually happens," said Reynolds.

President Trump is benefiting early in the cycle however, due to a lack of a clear front-runner in the Democratic Party.

Caucuses and primaries begin in February and by March 10, Michigan's primary, Democrats are hopeful a leader will have emerged from the crowded pack.

"Who knows. There's even rumblings that someone like Bloomberg or Clinton could step in and solve the problem that's perceived with Biden," said Reynolds.

Republicans meanwhile, are hoping to capitalize on the president's momentum, and potentially seize a Senate seat in Michigan for the first time since 2001.

Their top choice to unseat Democratic Senator Gary Peters, is John James, who previously ran against Debbie Stabenow in 2018.

"It's hard to unseat an incumbent, unless they've done something grievously wrong, and I’m not sure that Peters has done that," said Reynolds.

The same can be true for President Trump against any challenger he faces.

"Don't underestimate him,” said Reynolds. “Don't think that just because his approval rating is only at 40 percent or just because a majority of people believe that he is a poor leader, that he's going to lose."

The state of Michigan, and nation as a whole, will make their decision on November 3, 2020.

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