From the beginning of the primary season, I underestimated Donald J. Trump. Even as Tuesday became Wednesday, I thought Trump might still lose the election. I stayed up for the Milwaukee and Detroit returns because I thought those cities would flip their respective states. It didn’t happen.
The post-election reflections are plentiful, and I don’t have a “hot take.” The Barack Obama coalition apparently failed to turnout with the same enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. That’s about it.
Nevertheless, I am interested in what is going on in my city. Grand Rapids is a diverse urban center, but it is still part of “West Michigan” and all of its cultural idiosyncrasies. I had a general sense that Trump was never going to play well here. Indeed, even in the primaries, the Dutch largely resisted Trump.
The election returns tell the story.
In 2012, President Obama received 21,967 more votes in Grand Rapids than Mitt Romney. Romney won 12 out of the city’s 77 precincts.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 27,301 more votes in Grand Rapids than Donald J. Trump. Trump won only 6 out of the city’s 77 precincts.
Trump performed significantly worse than U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R), who had only nominal opposition this cycle. In total, 33,746 city residents voted for Amash. Only 25,151 city residents voted for Trump.
Douglas Smith (D) received 12,850 more votes in Grand Rapids than Amash. Amash won 20 out of the city’s 77 precincts.
This pattern holds if you zoom out to Kent County.
In 2012, Mitt Romney received 155,925 votes in Kent County.
In 2016, Trump received 148,160 votes in Kent County. Meanwhile, 174,222 Kent County residents voted for their Republican U.S. Rep. (Amash or Huizenga).
Trump’s countywide margin of approximately 10,000 votes is less than half of Mitt Romney’s 22,000 vote margin.
Keep in mind that Romney lost Michigan by some 450,000 votes and Trump won Michigan by a narrow 10,000+ margin. Trump also made a late night stop in Grand Rapids on the eve of the election.
What happened in Grand Rapids?
This is a stark result, and it reinforces the perception that the West Michigan or Grand Rapids Republican is just different. There must be something in the water (besides fluoride) or in the CRC.