With less than two months until Election Day, President Donald Trump is set to hold a rally Thursday night in Michigan, a battleground state he’s long been fighting for from behind despite the fact that it helped propel him to victory in 2016.
Both the Trump and Biden campaigns are focused on the battleground state, as they pursue different strategies for capturing the Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. The former vice president is targeting more diverse neighborhoods, while Trump is focused on whiter and more suburban areas, as racist dog whistles about preserving the suburbs have played prominently in the president’s bid for reelection. Despite those differences, both candidates are visiting areas that flipped from former President Barack Obama to Trump in the last presidential election.
Earlier this week, the Trump campaign held a press call with reporters that outlined seven different scenarios in which Trump gets the necessary 270 electoral votes to win reelection. Only two of those scenarios show a pathway without winning Michigan. Trump plans to speak in Freeland as he trails former Vice President Joe Biden, who was also in the state this week, by 7.6 points in the state, according to FiveThirtyEight.
On Wednesday, Biden visited Warren, in Macomb County, which flipped Republican in 2016 after previously voting for Obama twice in 2008 and 2012. The county also covers the suburbs of Detroit. Freeland is in Saginaw County, another county that flipped Republican in 2016. Saginaw County backed Trump narrowly, 48%-47%, over Hillary Clinton in that race.
Warren is relatively more diverse than Freeland, which is 85% white, with Black people (8%) and Latinos (3.7%) making up only about 12% of the population, according to U.S. Census data. In Warren, which is 70% white, Black people (18.5%) and Latinos (2.1%) make up just over 20% of the town’s population.
Freeland is a rural suburb of the city of Saginaw (not to be confused with the county) and is located about an hour north of Flint, Michigan. Freeland is also located within Tittabawassee Township, which sided with Trump by a much wider margin — 32 points — over Clinton four years ago.
Trump’s visit comes as reporting by journalist Bob Woodward made public this week by The Washington Post and CNN reveals the president misled the public by purposely downplaying the coronavirus.
The president has said that he did not want to create panic in the country.
According to the state’s website, there have been nearly 6,900 COVID-19 deaths in Michigan. Back in April, during the state’s lockdown, the president demanded it be “liberated” from coronavirus restrictions.
Trump engaged in a public battle with the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who extended the restrictions and faced armed protests to reopen at the state capitol.
A CNN/SSRS poll of Michigan residents in late July found that 59% of Michigan respondents disapproved of the president’s response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, 69% of respondents thought Whitmer was doing everything she could to fight the outbreak, while 23% thought she could be doing more.