CBS News projects Joe Biden is the winner in Michigan, capturing the state's 16 electoral votes up for grabs.
President Trump made eight trips to Michigan for campaign events since the start of 2019, with two of those stops coming the day before Election Day. Biden made four trips to Michigan since he locked up the Democratic nomination, including stops with former President Obama on Saturday. Kamala Harris stopped in Michigan on Tuesday morning, saying "the path to the White House and the path to determining who will be the next president of the United States without a question runs through Michigan."
Mr. Trump flipped Michigan in 2016, becoming the first Republican to win the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Michigan judge rejects Trump campaign lawsuit to stop counting votes
A judge in Michigan denied the Trump campaign's request to order officials to stop counting votes, the latest setback in the president's efforts to challenge the election in the courts.
The Trump campaign had asked a Michigan court to stop the count until the secretary of state issued a directive that election inspectors be present at all absent voter counting boards.
Judge Cynthia Stephens noted that Jocelyn Benson, the secretary of state, had already issued a directive about how to follow state laws, with instructions for providing meaningful access for poll-watchers. She also said the day-to-day process of vote counting is up to local jurisdictions, meaning the campaign's request for relief from the secretary of state was unavailable.
Stephens noted that the suit was filed at 4 p.m. Wednesday, at which point vote counting had largely proceeded. The "essence of the count is completed," Stephens said.
The judge criticized evidence the campaign provided, including an affidavit detailing a potential issue at a counting facility. "What I have at best is a hearsay affidavit," the judge said. A campaign lawyer pushed back against that, but the judge wasn't buying it.
The Trump campaign appeared to have one lawyer at the hearing, to face off against one lawyer from the secretary of state's office, the attorney general's office and two lawyers with the Democratic National Committee.
Trump campaign sues to halt counting of votes in Michigan
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the president's reelection campaign has filed a lawsuit in Michigan state court today to stop the counting of ballots, citing inadequate access to vote-tallying locations.
"As votes in Michigan continue to be counted, the presidential race in the state remains extremely tight as we always knew it would be," Stepien said in a statement. "President Trump's campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law."
Stepien said the lawsuit was filed in the Michigan Court of Claims.
In addition to seeking to halt the counting of ballots "until meaningful access has been granted," the Trump campaign is also demanding to "review those ballots which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access."
Secretary of state "optimistic" about completing vote count soon
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said election officials would be closer to a complete count of the state's record number of votes by end of the day on Wednesday. "I'm optimistic that by the end of the day the majority of our ballots will be tabulated and we'll be much closer to having a full, if not a full and complete, unofficial result to announce at that point," she told reporters.
Benson said "tens of thousands of ballots" still needed to be counted in places like Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. "We're focused on counting every single ballot," she said. "That's our focus, every single ballot in Michigan will be counted."
Benson asked for patience as the count proceeded. "We understand that the eyes of the nation are on Michigan right now and our voters and these ballots," she said.
Over 5 million citizens voted in the state, a record turnout, and at least 3.2 million ballots were cast absentee, she said.
"Every vote will count," secretary of state says
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said early Wednesday that state election officials worked through the night to count votes and "that work continues."
She said hundreds of thousands of ballots in Michigan's largest jurisdictions are still being counted, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Warren and Sterling Heights. Benson told CNN that the state is on track to have "a much more complete picture" by the end of the day.
"Every vote will count," Benson said on Twitter.
Her tweet included a graphic that says: "Voters decide elections. Not candidates."
Michigan's Secretary of State now predicts all of the state's votes will be counted within the next 24 hours
Michigan election statistics as of 4:30pm
- 3.2 million absentee ballots have now been returned
- 18,882 new voter registrations today; that's up about 6,000 from two hours earlier.
- Top places: Detroit with 805, Ann Arbor with 472, Grand Rapids with 302, Lansing with 236 and Kalamazoo with 22
All Michigan polls will be closed by 9 p.m. ET. They begin to close in most of the state at 8 p.m. local time, but part of the Upper Peninsula is in the Central Time Zone and those areas will not close until 8 p.m. CT (or 9 p.m. ET)
Mail ballots are due when polls close.
Election workers may start limited processing of absentee ballots for 10 hours on Monday before Election Day. This will give poll workers a head start on counting the record number of absentee ballots, but Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has said it may still take until Friday before all of the votes are counted.
State of the race
President Trump is hoping to replicate his success in Michigan, a state he won by just 10,704 votes in 2016. In 2018, Democrats won every statewide election in the state, and reclaimed the governor's mansion. Those wins were largely propelled by Democratic success in the suburbs.
In 2016, Mr. Trump won Michigan's suburbs 53% to 42%, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer lost the suburbs by just 3 points in 2018. That included wins in Oakland County, wealthier suburban Detroit County, and Macomb County, a more working-class county that Mr. Trump carried in 2016.
The latest CBS News polling showed Biden leading with independent voters 55% to 43%. In 2016, Mr. Trump won independents 52% to 36%, according to exit polls. Polling also shows Mr. Trump is struggling with White voters with college degrees. In 2016, exit polls indicated he won the group 51% to 43%.
CBS News polling also showed Biden leading among White college-educated voters 55% to 43%. White women with college degrees were critical for Whitmer in 2018. She won White women with college degrees 62% to 36%, after Hillary Clinton won that group 50% to 44%, according to exit polls. Democrats are hoping to duplicate Whitmer's success with college-educated voters in places like Oakland County and in Kent County, home to Grand Rapids, a longtime Republican stronghold that Whitmer carried by 4.2 points in 2018.
The president's success with White working-class voters was critical to his 2016 victory. He won Macomb and Monroe counties outside of Detroit, but also flipped working-class areas in mid-Michigan like Saginaw County, which is had been safely Democratic. Mr. Trump also won Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which has many White working-class voters, by 18.6 points. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the Upper Peninsula by 3.3 points. But Biden may be encroaching a little on Mr. Trump's margins among White voters without college degrees. In October, CBS News polling found Mr. Trump led 61% to 37% among those voters, down from his 31-point margin with the group in 2016.
Democrats are also working to increase turnout in cities with large populations of Black voters, including Detroit and Flint. Three days before the election, Biden and former President Obama held drive-in events in both cities, hoping to juice enthusiasm among supporters. Turnout in Detroit fell by more than 41,000 votes from 2012 to 2016 in a city where Clinton won 94.4% of the vote. Mr. Trump also shaved Democratic margins in Genesee County, home to Flint. Mr. Obama won Genesee by 32.5 points in 2008 and 28.2 points in 2012, but Clinton carried it by just 9.5 points in 2016.
Democratic incumbent Senator Gary Peters faces a tough reelection bid against Republican John James. In 2018, James lost a close race to the state's other senator, Debbie Stabenow. Peters has been emphasizing his bipartisan work, while James has often attacked Peters' long career in politics. Peters has outraised James, $43 million to $37.2 million but has lagged other Democrats running in battleground states who are trying to flip seats. Polls have mostly shown Peters leading James, but by relatively close margins.
If James pulls off the win, it could throw a wrench into Democrats' efforts to win the Senate. Cook Political report rates the race as "lean Democratic."
Michigan was one of the states hit hardest by the pandemic in March, April and May. The outbreak prompted Governor Gretchen Whitmer to issue some of the strictest restrictions and a stay-at-home order until late May for some parts of the state and early June for the southern part of the lower peninsula.
Republicans sued over her use of emergency powers, and in October, the Michigan Supreme Court struck down a 1945 law that Whitmer used to invoke the emergency powers, forcing her to find other avenues to enact public health measures. CBS News polling in October found 65% of likely voters said the coronavirus outbreak would be a "major factor" in their vote, trailing the economy (82%) and health care (73%). Likely voters also said Biden would do a better job handling the pandemic, while 34% of likely voters said Mr. Trump would do a better job. Half — 51% — of respondents said Mr. Trump deserves blame for making COVID-19 worse, compared to 25% who said he made the situation better.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan has about 260,000 fewer manufacturing jobs than it did in 2000. However, since mid-2009 when manufacturing in Michigan bottomed out, about 200,000 manufacturing jobs have been added. Trade deals like NAFTA were a big part of the president's message in Michigan in 2016 and enacting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has been a signature achievement that Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have touted while campaigning in the state. Manufacturing jobs increased following the Great Recession but began to plateau under the Trump administration. Per BLS, motor vehicle and auto parts manufacturing jobs in Michigan were down about 2,400 from January 2017 to February 2020. Vehicle parts manufacturing jobs were slightly down in February 2020, compared to January 2017. Overall, manufacturing jobs have fallen since COVID struck, but have started to bounce back. The July Battleground Tracker in Michigan found Trump still had an edge over Biden (52%-48%) over who would do more to protect American manufacturing jobs. A CBS News Battleground Tracker poll in October found Biden and Mr. Trump tied (both at 45%) on who would handle the economy better. That same poll found more voters (46%) thought the Trump administration was helping the economy recover than making it worse (44%). More voters (49%) said that Biden would do more to help the economy than make it worse (42%).
Flint water crisis
In August, Whitmer announced a $600 million settlement in the Flint water crisis. But as CBS News has reported, many residents in Flint still don't trust the water and are still lining up to drink bottled water. The city was once a major hub for the American auto industry, but nearly went bankrupt in 2014. Officials hoped to save money by switching the city's water source. According to "60 Minutes," a preliminary finding of 174 children who went through extensive neuro-exams determined 80% of them will require help for language, learning or intellectual disorder. 2,000 kids have been connected to services such as speech and occupational therapy. Flint is 54% Black and the average household income was $27,717 from 2014-2018, with 40% of its residents are in poverty.