ABSTRACT

Considerable media attention was given to the so-called “pivot counties” in the U.S. and in Michigan that flipped from supporting Barack Obama twice to voting for Donald Trump in 2016. We first summarize theories of voting behavior and speculate about why Michigan has been consistently competitive over the years. We explore 40 years' worth of county-level presidential and gubernatorial election results in Michigan to determine how frequently counties have flipped across a large number of elections. We find that a number of Michigan counties frequently flip between elections, but the number of competitive Michigan counties has substantially declined in recent decades. Turnout in larger counties can affect election outcomes, and large counties that swing have been key bellwethers in past elections, and should be a major focus of research on future elections in Michigan.

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