By CAMRYN GINSBERG
Capital News Service
LANSING — More than 58,000 Michigan voters didn’t mark their ballots for any presidential candidate Nov. 6, according to unofficial data from the Secretary of State.
That’s twice as many as those who participated in the 2008 election but skipped voting for president.
“There will always be those people who are hard to please or cannot make up their mind,” said Bill Ballenger, publisher of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics. “Some people may have been disappointed in Obama but uninterested in Romney.”
Barack Obama received 2,560,015 votes in the state this year, about 300,000 fewer than in 2008. His 54.3 percent of the popular vote was 3.1 percent below 2008’s showing in Michigan.
Analysts classify a county as definitely leaning Republican – red – or Democrat – blue – if a candidate receives 52 percent or greater of the total votes. A purple county is where neither major party’s candidate receives more than 52 percent.
Under that definition, the 2008 contest between Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Obama produced 42 purple Michigan counties. The state has 83 counties.
In this election, there were only 16 purple counties. The greatest change was that red Republican counties in the presidential race grew from 23 in 2008 to 53 in 2012.
“It’s not a surprise that red counties went up this election,” said Douglas Roberts, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University. “Obama lost some support over the past four years.”
In 2012, voters collectively were less excited than four years earlier.
“Because 2008 was an open seat race, meaning that it was not an incumbent seeking election, there was a lot of national enthusiasm in voting,” Ballenger said. “Usually voter turnout isn’t as high when a president is up for re-election, like this year.
“There was a lot of talk of hope and change in 2008, which brings enthusiasm to voters,” said Ballenger. “Some of his previous supporters aren’t as enthusiastic and hopeful.”
Other observations when comparing Obama’s two runs for the presidency:
- Obama received 660,085 of Wayne County’s vote in 2008 and 595,253 in 2012.
- In 2008, Obama received 53.4 percent of Macomb County’s vote, making it a blue county. In 2012, it went purple because Obama received 51.6 percent of the vote.
- McCain won 37 counties in 2008 and Romney won 63 counties in 2012.