Based on campaign and electioneering results, should we say that Vice President Joe Biden was able to match President Obama's 2008 victory, or better Mrs. Hillary Clinton's efforts in Michigan? The number of counties won by V.P. Biden over President Obama in Michigan was significantly less and he still managed to pull out a 120k vote margin from the small number of counties like Mrs. Clinton did.

From 2000 to 2020, Michigan counties have gone more noticeably Red (Republican), except in 2008, when President Obama had a blowout year by winning 47- counties against Senator McCain's 36. Fast forward to 2012, President Obama's popularity dropped as he won only 20 counties in Michigan compared to the landslide victory of 2008 where he swept 47 counties.

In the year 2016,  the state went most Red from the number of counties won by Republican 75 to 8 counties against the Democrats, as President Trump won against Mrs. Clinton on a landslide victory.  In 2020, those were reduced only by 3 to 72 to 11 by the Democrats.  

Compared to 2000, 2004, 2012, and definitely 2008, it seems like in 2016 and 2020, the Democrats have lost percentage gains to President Trump. It was an encouraging sign for the Republican Party, though they were not able to win the 2020 election. (Some Michigan citizens made claims of voting and vote tabulation irregularities and filed lawsuits, along with President Trump’s legal team, which until 12/20/2020 are still under litigation.)

When compared to 2000,2004, 2012 and definitely 2008,it seems 2016 and 2020 the Democrats have lost percentage gains to President Trump. Encouraging sign for the Republican Party, but have not been able to win the 2020 election. (There were claims of voting & vote tabulation irregularities claimed by citizens of Michigan who brought lawsuits and so did President Trump, which until 12/20/2020 are still in litigation.)  

Since 2008, the Democrat Party has not only been losing counties to the Republicans, but also losing the number of people voting for them. In 2012, they lost 11% of the vote gains of 2008 and 12% of 2012 votes in 2016, bringing them to their lowest number both in counties they won and received. In 2016 they received 2.2M votes, just 100K more than in the year 2000. The Democrats were able to make that happen in 2016 with 1/3rd the number of counties won in 2000.  In 2020, the Democrats were able to match President Obama's 2008 performance of 2.8M votes with winning only 11 counties, instead of 46.  The Democrat's vote numbers were going downwards in the past 2 elections, but had reversed course by 600K, which was a 24% swing from 2016, while adding only 2 additional counties in the win column.

The Republicans reversed their lowest number of counties won, which was 37 in 2008 under Senator McCain, in 2016 to double it to 75. This was greater than in the 2000 election under President Bush, and the highest in 20 years, or maybe even more.  The Republicans increased their numbers by 600K from 2M to 2.6M at the same time. The rise has been gradual since 2008 with a 3% increase in 2012, 8% in 2016, and then doubled to 16%, and is accompanied by the county's won increasing to 63, 75 and 72 respectively.  We do not see a corresponding county gain increase in the Democrat's vote increase. The number of Democrat Voters in the 11 Counties they won doubled in 2020 over then 12-year trend.

So how are the Democrats able to beat the Republican Presidential Candidates with win less counties and increase in the Republican vote gains and increasing their number of county's won?
Number of Democrat Voters in the 11 Counties they won doubled in 2020 over then 12 year trend.

It appears, this can only be possible by getting a high voter participation rate for 12 years since 2008 in a small number of counties irrespective of the candidates’ policies, personality, or popularity. The above graph shows the evidence of the spike in the voter participation from just the "11 counties" the Democrats are mostly dependent on.  70% of their vote comes from here and 30% from the remaining 73 counties.  These 11 counties produced 1M Democrat votes, to the 500K votes for the Republican party in 2020.

In the 2020, the Democrats doubled their participation in these 10- counties when compared it to 2008, when they came to vote for President Obama in 2008. They also doubled the number of votes compared to the past 3- elections, where they got around 500K votes.

A review of the registration data for these 11 counties may reveal that the Democrat's had a very active registration drive to bring in 500K new voters, as these high numbers were never achieved in the past 3 elections including 2008. If Michigan’s lock down prevented an active voter registration, there has to be some other reason for the increase in voter participation in these 11 counties.

The above graphs display the breakdown of each of the 10- Democrat won counties according to voting trends and vote difference for each of the Presidential elections since 2008.  The 11 counties are: Genesee, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Leelanau, Marquette, Muskegon, Oakland, Saginaw, Washtenaw, Wayne. In order to match President Trump's numbers, Vice President Biden had to match President Obama's 2008 performance by winning all 46 counties, which did not happen. The other way was to post big numbers in these 11 counties to make up the difference for the inability to win the remaining 35 counties.

Here are the observations that are common to all these charts

  1. Voters were less enthusiastic for President Obama in 2012 than in 2008 across all 11 counties.
  2. Mrs. Clinton did not recover those voters by President Obama in 2012 across all 11 counties.
  3. Vice President Biden was able to regain the vote loss in 2012 by President Obama and 2016 by Mrs. Clinton by a factor of 2,3, or 4 times in (Kalamazoo, Kent, Leelanau, Oakland, Washtenaw), and made up the loss in (Ingham, Marquette).
  4. President Trump improved his 2016 numbers in all of these counties, but the pattern's do not match. (% of improvement varies drastically from county to county. Genesee to Ingham. [A deeper dive is needed to figure out the demographics of the county.])
  5. Trend lines for these counties were moving downwards for Democrats until 2016, but made an abrupt reversal upward in the range of 20 -35 percentage points. The Republican trend lines have made a linear rise since 2008.
    1. The 2016 to 2020 voter turnout is even more evident. Almost, like the Republican party performance seems to motivate the Democrat party performance in these 11 counties.

      The only anamoly seems to be Democrats have figured  out turning up  enough voter participation in these 11 counties to match the Republican performance and winning state wide elections with margins just big enough.

      The only way to break out of this cycle is for a candidate like President Donald Trump to rack up the votes outside these 11 counties and minimize loses here where it becomes mathematically impossible to match the slope.

      He did campaign extensively in the Michigan to motivate the people to vote. He did bring in the highest number of votes by any Republican Presidential candidate in 20 years in Michigan.    

      The Republicans with a 600K vote gain brought in by President Trump and increasing the number of counties they won by 36 to 73 counties since 2008, in 2020 appears not to be enough to hold up against the gains in these counties.

      An over achieving Republican presidential candidate with his massive rallies in the state, his insistence of in-person voter turnout across the states to accumulate the biggest vote for that party in 20 years.

      The ability to turn up voter participation has its benefits with minimal campaigning. For example, the Democratic party candidate only needs to visit a small area in a key battle ground state, campaigning all across the state is really not necessary. Vice President Joe Biden's campaign and President Obama's assistance in the 2020 campaign was extremely light in the state of Michigan compared to President Trump’s. With this campaigning, Vice President Joe Biden was able to pull off the most massive vote victory which was even better than President Obama's 2008 landslide.