Trump narrowly wins in Michigan

Chad Livengood, Michael Wayland and Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 13,225 votes in Michigan in his path to the presidency, unofficial Secretary of State office results show.

Trump captured the presidency in a dramatic photo finish to an unpredictable and wild presidential election, using his anti-establishment movement to break through Clinton’s last line of defense in the industrial Upper Midwest.

"America will no longer settle for anything less than the best," Trump said in a victory speech just before 3 a.m. "We must reclaim our country's destiny."

"We must reclaim our country's destiny," President-elect Donald Trump said an election night rally Wednesday in New York.

Michigan proved to be one of Trump's crucial final states after the New York businessman won critical swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Iowa and Ohio.

The victories came in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Democratic-leaning states like Michigan where Trump competed with Clinton in the final days of the campaign to open up different pathways to the White House.

Trump said Clinton called to concede the election.

"She congratulated us on our victory and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard fought campaign," Trump told supporters in New York.

All precincts in all 83 counties reporting, Trump carried Michigan with 47.6 percent over Clinton's 47.33 percent of the state's popular vote.

Michigan Republicans celebrated in the early morning hours of Wednesday like Trump had prevailed.

“It’s a great night for Republicans, it’s a great night for our voters and the people of Michigan because they looked at what Michigan leadership has done in this state and they said, ‘you’ve turned our state around’ … It’s a win for the whole Republican team," said Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party.

The New York billionaire bet his campaign on winning Michigan, holding a 12:30 a.m. rally in Grand Rapids less than seven hours before the polls opened Tuesday morning.

“Michigan stands at the crossroads of history,” Trump said. “If we win Michigan, we will win this historic election and then we will truly be able to do all of the things we want to do.”

At stake were 16 electoral votes that Trump needs to break Clinton’s so-called “firewall” in a state that has voted Democrat in six consecutive elections dating back to her husband Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory.

At the Michigan Democratic Party election night party in Detroit, Democrats were noticeably nervous as the results rolled in and Trump appeared to be headed to victory in the traditional swing states.

“Excited as I am about my victory, tomorrow morning I’m really concerned with my country,” said U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat who campaigned with Clinton on Friday in Wayne County, sounded like she was preparing for defeat in the presidential race late Tuesday night.

“Tomorrow we’ve got to be part of pulling this country together. We need to remember that we are Americans,” Dingell said. “... And we’ve got to make sure as Democrats we are pulling the country together and leading us to a future that includes everybody.”

Clinton won Oakland County by eight percentage points, while Trump prevailed by 11.5 percentage points in Macomb County, where he assembled a coalition of voters upset with the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada as well as other trade deals.

“The key thing is we need to have is a big surge in west Michigan — traditionally strong Republican — and we’re going to do well in Macomb because of Trump, and then I think it boils down to what happened to Oakland County,” Attorney General Bill Schuette said late Tuesday.

Trump’s strategy for upsetting Clinton in Michigan has hinged on building a large coalition of white working-class voters to outmatch Clinton’s overwhelming advantage among African-American voters.

Trump had a 2-to-1 lead over Clinton among white voters without a college education in presidential election exit polling Tuesday that also showed white women favoring Trump over Clinton.

Exit polling conducted for The Detroit News and national television networks in Michigan found 61 percent of white voters without a college education favoring Trump and 31 percent siding with Clinton.

Among white female voters, Trump had a seven-percentage point lead in the exit poll of 2,774 Michigan voters conducted by Edison Research.

Turnout in Detroit and Flint was being closely watched as election results rolled in. Clinton led in Detroit with 95 percent of the vote with 71 percent of precincts reporting. Clinton was leading 66 percent to 30 percent over Trump in Democrat-friendly Wayne County with 77 percent of the precincts reporting.

Clinton and Trump fought for Michigan until the very last day of the campaign as both candidates and their top surrogates stumped for votes across the Lower Peninsula.

On Monday, Clinton went to the traditionally Republican stronghold of west Michigan to appeal to moderate voters as part of a campaign strategy to make the election a referendum on Trump’s heated rhetoric about immigration and attempt to “divide” Americans. President Barack Obama addressed an Ann Arbor rally at the University of Michigan baseball field.

Trump and running mate Mike Pence made six total stops in out-state Michigan in the last eight days of the campaign in a bid to generate excitement among conservative Republican voters who have been wary about Trump.

Clinton, former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, offered her candidacy as a continuation of progressive policies pursued by Obama.

Carey Cameron, 59, of Sterling Heights said he voted for Clinton because he believes she’s “the more stable decision” from a political and economic standpoint.

“Donald Trump is a smart man, to say the least. But running the country? I’m not sure,” Cameron said.

The construction management company owner said he was concerned a Trump’s vow to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement could “create a lot of chaos,” destabilizing the economy — and his personal stock portfolio.

“Right now, we’re on a positive track for the last eight years,” Cameron said. “I don’t want to disrupt that.”

Throughout the general election, Clinton’s team was mindful of the shocking upset loss she suffered in Michigan’s March 8 Democratic presidential primary to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Clinton campaign built a large ground game in Michigan, opening 35 offices and filling them with more than 200 paid staffers.

“I would be frightened for our world if the other candidate were to be elected,” said Caren Gittleman of Farmington Hills. “He does not have the temperament (to be president). ... He just doesn’t represent at all what I think this country should be.”

Both candidates set new lows for being the most unpopular choices for president in generations, as measured by public opinion polling.

“It’s disgusting that this country has come to these two candidates,” said Jim Truan, 55, of Livonia.

Truan said he ended up voting for Trump, whom he considered “the better of two bad candidates.”

“I voted against the candidate I wanted in office least,” he said. “... Hopefully the country will have better options next time.”

Amanda Denny, a clinical scientist at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, said she reluctantly voted for Clinton.

“She is the known kind of evil, as opposed to the unknown kind of evil,” said Denny, 32, of Lansing.

Tabitha Taylor, 32, of Roseville, said she voted for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

“I’m usually a Republican, but this time I voted Libertarian,” the day care center worker said after casting her ballot at Roseville voting precinct No. 4 at Huron Park Elementary. “I changed. I was a Bernie Sanders fan. I’m not a fan of Hillary and definitely not a fan of Trump.”

Detroiter Edward Dobbs, 65, was bracing Tuesday for possibility of a Trump presidency as he prepared to vote for Clinton.

“I fear the prospect of having Donald Trump as a president,” he said. “It looks like there’s nothing much I can do about it other than keeping my fingers crossed.”

Clinton’s candidacy was dogged by an FBI investigation of the controversial private email server she maintained as the country’s top diplomat.

“I just don’t think she’s totally honest,” said James Coleburn, a 70-year-old retiree from Farmington Hills.

Jan Eckhout of Westland voted Tuesday for Hillary Clinton and defended her in the face of negativity that’s been rampant for both campaigns.

“I just cannot stand the fact that we have someone who is so mean and so awful as Donald Trump,” Eckhout said. “We don’t need to go back to Mad Men days. No way in hell. We don’t need that. We’ve come too far.”


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Twitter: @ChadLivengood

Detroit News Staff Writers Christine Ferretti, Jonathan Oosting and Charles E. Ramirez contributed.