Did Donald Trump really win Michigan’s 16 electoral votes?
The president-elect’s victory in the rust-belt state was heralded as a fundamental redrawing of the political map. That’s because Michigan, along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, had not gone red in a presidential election since the 1980s. Until Tuesday, that is, according to the prevailing narrative.
However, you may have noticed that many news organizations still considered Michigan up for grabs in their electoral college maps of the presidential election as of November 11. That’s three days after the election. In other words, they hadn’t officially added it to Trump’s column yet.
Thus, the answer to the question of whether Trump really won Michigan is:
He’s ahead now.
A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office in Michigan told Heavy on November 11 that the office has “no reason to believe” there are “significant” numbers of votes somehow unaccounted for, including absentee or provisional ballots. However, Trump’s lead is slender: He has a 13,107 vote lead over Hillary Clinton in Michigan, according to the latest totals from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office.
The reason many news organizations are hedging in declaring Trump the Michigan victor: The Associated Press has yet to call the race for Trump, and many news organizations follow the lead of the AP. The AP told Heavy on November 11 that it hasn’t called New Hampshire yet, either, although Hillary Clinton has a slight lead there. The wire service called Arizona on November 10 for Trump, two days after the election. However, on November 14, the AP called New Hampshire for Clinton after Trump did not request a recount, said The BBC.
“The races in New Hampshire and Michigan remain too close to call, with recounts possible in both states,” Lauren Easton, media relations manager for the AP, had explained to Heavy on November 11. “So long as recounts are possible, AP will not call either race.”
Detroit newspapers have declared Trump the winner, attributing his victory to western, rural areas of the state populated by working class whites concerned about trade and jobs. Hillary Clinton also did not turn out Democratic voters in Michigan at Barack Obama’s levels, and third-party candidates ran stronger than in 2012 (Trump’s margin in Wisconsin was also small; it was about 27,000 votes, but that state was called for Trump.)
So what’s the hold up? The Michigan votes will now go through a canvassing system. A recount can’t be requested until that’s done.
The New York Times has a county-by-county listing of election results. As of November 11, the Times was giving Trump a 92 percent chance of winning Michigan; the results currently list Trump as receiving 47.6% of the vote and Clinton 47.3%.
Fred Woodhams, the spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, told Heavy, “We have no reason to believe that there are significant numbers of votes that are unaccounted for. All cities and townships in the state (1,500 of them) have reported unofficial vote totals.” He said that no recount has been requested because recounts are filed after certified results are available, not unofficial tallies.
Clinton won the popular vote in the United States as a whole. Trump won the three rust-belt states that were crucial to his victory in the electoral college by a combined total of only about 112,000 votes.
The AP did call the election overall for Donald Trump, naming him as presidential victor, despite remaining unsure about Michigan and New Hampshire. Michigan has 16 electoral votes and New Hampshire 4. Clinton would not prevail in the electoral college even if she won Arizona and those two states:
The AP explains how it calls races, saying, “The responsibility for calling races rests with experienced journalists in each state. They are armed with on-the-ground knowledge of their territory that no other national news organization can match.”
In addition, says the AP, “On election night, race callers in each state are assisted by experts in AP’s Washington bureau who examine exit poll numbers and votes as they are counted.”
As of November 11, the Secretary of State in Michigan was reporting the following totals:
The Trump victory is too large to trigger an automatic recount in Michigan. A margin of under 2,000 votes triggers an automatic recount in Michigan, but candidates can seek a recount even if the margin is larger. You can learn more about the Michigan recount rules here:
Woodhams told Heavy: “It’s not for the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office to get involved in when national media outlets ‘call’ a state. At this time, county boards of canvassers are verifying election results and will certify them. At the end of the month, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers will certify the results after the county boards complete their work. At that point, election results will be final.”
Asked whether he expected the results to change substantially, he responded, “No, but in every election small vote shifts occur during the canvassing process.”
Woodhams stressed that the canvassing process will be bi-partisan.
“The canvassing process takes weeks to complete to ensure that voters can have full confidence in the accuracy and integrity of Michigan elections,” Woodhams said. “The canvassing boards are made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.”
The Detroit Free Press reported in a blaring headline that Trump had won Michigan, giving the margin as 13,225 votes. However, the newspaper had earlier mistakenly called the race for Clinton based on an analysis of early returns from key precincts.