For 2024 Campaign, MSU Students Report on Perspectives and Issues in Diverse Michigan Counties

by American Communities Project November 30, 2023

As 2024 arrives, the nation’s attention will turn to the November election, headlined by the presidential race, with other crucial elections in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. But some states will feel the intensity more than others, and Michigan is near the top of that list.

Michigan was one of the crucial “flip” states in the presidential elections of 2016 (to Republican Donald Trump) and 2020 (to Democrat Joe Biden). It will be a battleground again this cycle. The state has an open U.S. Senate seat, with Debbie Stabenow retiring, and two open U.S. House seats that Democrats currently hold, with one member retiring and another running for the seat that Stabenow is leaving.

For all those reasons, the American Communities Project will work with journalism students at Michigan State University to cover the 2024 elections in the state with the Detroit Free Press.

In total, Michigan holds eight of the ACP’s 15 county types – Big Cities, College Towns, Exurbs, Graying America, Middle Suburbs, Rural Middle America, Urban Suburbs, and Working Class Country. And students at Michigan State are reporting from four of them:

Ingham County, a College Town and home of Michigan State University and the state capital. Ingham is younger than the state, it is more racially and ethnically diverse, and a large share of its population has a bachelor’s degree. President Biden won the county by 32 percentage points in 2020.

Livingston County, an Exurb that sits between Detroit and Lansing. Livingston is a prototypical exurban county, a wealthy and educated mix of suburban and rural places. Its median household income is $25,000 than the state figure, but it is much less racially diverse. It voted for Donald Trump by about 23 percentage points in 2020.

Osceola County, part of Working Class Country in the northwestern Lower Peninsula. Osceola is rural and not very diverse, more than 93% of the population is white and non-Hispanic. Its median household income is about $13,000 less than the state figure, and it has half the state’s percentage of college degrees. Trump won the county by more 46 percentage points in 2020.

Schoolcraft County, part of Graying America in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Schoolcraft is rural and remote with a large senior population, about 29% of its residents are 65 or older. The county also has a good-sized Native American population (9.3% of the total). Trump won the county by about 32 percentage points in 2020.

The Detroit Free Press will be diving into the other counties: Wayne (Big City), Saginaw (Middle Suburb), Newaygo (Rural Middle America), and Kent (Urban Suburb).

Project Goal

As is usually the case with an ACP project like this, the point of the work is not to focus on “battleground counties” or “swing voters.” Even now, about a year before next year’s election, there is not a lot of suspense about how these counties will vote. Ingham is likely to vote for the Democratic nominees and the other three counties are just as likely to vote Republican.

Rather the goal of the work is to see the election through the eyes of these different places and better understand the issues driving them.


Now and in the coming months, you’ll read stories on this site that will explain what life is like in these communities, including the lenses residents bring and the issues that move them, during what’s sure to be a hard-fought campaign.


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