It is no secret to the campaigns of Joe Biden and Donald Trump that the road to the White House runs through places like Michigan’s Macomb County.
It is a swing county in one of a trio of recently reliably Democratic states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin – that shocked Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign by breaking for Trump after backing Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
The county, a suburban and exurban area north of Detroit, is the state’s third-most populous. Eighty percent of its residents are white. Roughly a quarter of adults have college degrees. The median household income in 2018 was about $60,000. Voters there cast ballots at higher rates than the country overall. It is a bellwether that backed the candidate elected president all but three times in the past 50 years.
Simply put, Macomb County is chock-full of people whose demographic and political profiles make them highly sought-after by political strategists from both parties in Washington as potentially persuadable voters.
In the 2020 White House race, top polls show that Biden is widening his lead over Trump in Michigan. The president’s reelection campaign has stopped buying television and radio ads in the state, and studies indicate that white suburban and working-class women are more likely to be having second thoughts about Trump than their male counterparts. Nevertheless, interviews late last month with nearly two dozen Macomb County women fitting this profile show that right now, in this swing county in this swing state, neither candidate has a lock.
As Kristina Gallagher, a 36-year-old married mother of two, put it: “I’m a realist. I’m going to vote for the person who is going to do the best for us.”
Gallagher is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, voting for Obama in 2008, Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 and Trump in 2016. She is a waitress who, for the first time in a decade, has a little money in the bank and wants a president focused on jobs, health insurance and education.
Will she vote for Trump again?
“He’s been a little iffy lately, can’t keep his mouth shut. He’s derogatory sometimes and it really irks me. Maybe stay off Twitter,” Gallagher said as she loaded groceries, and her daughter, into the car outside a Walmart in Roseville.
What about Biden?
“Not sure,” Gallagher said.
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