The 2020 Livingston County political analysis: We’re still red and we’re getting redder

As they sort things out on the national level, let’s do a little analysis of how things played out in Livingston County.

Here it is: We’re Republican. We’re very Republican. Very, very, very Republican. We’ve always been Republican and if anything, we’re becoming even more Republican. We’re pretty much the deepest shade of red there is.

Want proof? Here’s a visual look at the Livingston County map and how the presidential election played out here:

Oh, and here’s a look at how the U.S. Senate race played out here:

Any questions?

(And you can click here to see the VERY cool interactive map that the Livingston County clerk’s office has on its website.)

Once again this year, there had been some talk among the Livingston County Democrats that THIS, finally, was going to be the year we started to turn a little purple.

We’ve been hearing how the suburbs were starting to turn blue – areas filled with college-educated white voters. That describes parts of Livingston County to a “T.” Brighton Township, Green Oak Township, Hartland Township, Hamburg Township, Genoa Township – those areas are filled with college-educated white voters.

And every single one of them voted heavily Republican – just like they’ve always done.

We’ll delve into the results in a minute – and look at who deserves credit and who deserves blame – but as they say in sports, the scoreboard don’t lie.

We remain an island of deep red in a part of the state that’s filled with deep blue. We have Wayne and Oakland counties to the east, Ingham County to the west, Washtenaw County to the south and Genesee County to the north, and they’re all very blue. We’re still very red.

When you look at the results, you’ll see that there’s one tiny sliver of Democratic hope in Livingston County. The City of Brighton is, by the teeniest of margins, starting to turn a little purple.

There are four precincts in the City of Brighton. Among the Democrats, Joe Biden carried two of them. U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin carried three of them. Sen. Gary Peters carried zero of them.

So if you want a ray of sunshine, Democrats, there it is. Everything else is red.

And now, let’s take a closer look at the individual results:


Donald Trump picked up 60.5% of the vote here, compared to 37.9% for Joe Biden. Trump had by far the most total votes that a presidential candidate in Livingston County has ever had – 76,980 – and beat Biden by 28,762 votes.

Trump carried 106 of Livingston County’s 108 precincts. Biden’s only two victories came in the City of Brighton.

Now, how does that compare to past elections?

In the 2018 governor’s race, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer had 40% of the vote and won six precincts. She lost to Republican Bill Schuette here by 16,655 votes. So when you compare 2020 to 2018, you’ll see that Trump greatly increased the red vote.

In 2016 (when there was a much more prominent third-party candidate, Libertarian Gary Johnson), Trump won all 108 precincts and beat Hillary Clinton by 31,000 votes.

Things have been going the wrong direction for Democrats since 2008, when Barack Obama started to give them a huge ray of hope. That year, he won 12 precincts, he carried the cities of Howell and Brighton, and he lost to John McCain by only 13,235 votes.

In 2012, though, Obama fared much worse, losing to Mitt Romney here by 23,000 votes. Things have only gotten worse for the Democrats since then.

U.S. Senate

Of the three big Republican candidates this year, U.S. Senate candidate John James did the best (compared to Trump and Congressional candidate Paul Junge).

James had 77,800 votes, compared to 76,980 for Trump and 72,558 for Junge. James had 61.89% of the vote, compared to 60.54% for Trump and 58% for Junge. And James, as you saw above, didn’t lose a single precinct.

So there were almost a thousand voters here who voted for Joe Biden for president and John James for Senate. That’s noteworthy.

U.S. Congress, 8th District

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, ended up winning the race overall, defeating Republican Paul Junge by a margin of 51% to 47%. That was the exact same margin she had in 2018, when she won the seat by defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Bishop.

That was a surprise, at least to me. I thought Slotkin would win the race by a much bigger margin this time around, considering she had an enormous cash advantage over Junge, and that he was relatively unknown in the district.

It would seem that Slotkin wasn’t surprised by it at all, though. She didn’t seem to take the race for granted. She campaigned like hell, including in Livingston County, where she did much better than Biden and Gary Peters did. Slotkin had 2,000 more votes than Biden and 4,000 more votes than Peters here.

Slotkin won eight of Livingston County’s 108 precincts – three in the City of Brighton, one in the City of Howell, two in Green Oak Township, and one each in Hamburg Township and Deerfield Township.

Here’s a look at the 8th District map in Livingston County:

And while she did the best of the three main Democrats in Livingston County, she still lost big. For those who were thinking Slotkin might actually carry Livingston County, that didn’t come close to happening.

The question now, of course, is what comes next for Elissa Slotkin. We’re about to enter redistricting in advance of the 2022 elections. Michigan is going to lose one Congressional seat, so the 8th District – or whatever district we’re in – is going to look much different in 2022. Slotkin lives in Oakland County, and we have no idea what district she’ll be in the next time around, or what district she’ll choose to run in.

State House and County races

This was a thumping for the Democrats all the way around. They didn’t win a single precinct in any contested race – State House, County Commission, Prosecutor, Drain Commissioner, Clerk, Treasurer, Register of Deeds, nothing.

Lessons learned

I hope that the Livingston County Democrats aren’t so disheartened that they stop fielding candidates in all these races, because the voters always deserve a choice, but it would seem the days of the truly viable, well-financed Democratic candidates here are gone.

In 2018, the Democrats fielded their strongest slate ever – led by 42nd State House candidate Mona Shand, the best candidate the Democrats have ever had here – and they still got thumped. They got thumped even worse this time around. Aside from Slotkin’s relatively strong showing, there were no bright spots.

Credit and blame

We are what we are when it comes to political leanings here, but you have to give some credit to Livingston County Republican Party Chairperson Meghan Reckling and her team for making the county even redder in 2020 than it was in 2018. Whatever they did, it worked.

And on the other side, I continue to scratch my head at some of the baffling strategies employed by longtime Livingston County Democratic Party Chairperson Judy Daubenmier. Through the years, she’s done a lot of goofy things – such as holding a press conference in front of a sign for Congressman Mike Rogers in 2008 – none of which have swayed people in Livingston County one iota to support the Democratic brand.

Earlier this year, as I pointed out here, she actually wondered out loud whether or not Livingston County’s three Republican state legislators were in favor of swastikas.

And they just keep losing here. Whatever she’s doing, it isn’t working.

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