Why AP called Michigan for Trump: Race call explained

A vote sign and American flag are shown outside a Michigan primary election location in Dearborn, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Michigan is the last major primary state before Super Tuesday and a critical swing state in November's general election. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – The Associated Press declared former President Donald Trump the winner of Michigan’s Republican primary based on an analysis of initial vote returns from a cross-section of the state. With the victory, Trump is now a perfect five-for-five in state presidential contests in which he appeared on the ballot.

The AP declared Trump the winner at 9:00 p.m. ET Tuesday, when polls closed in the final four counties in the westernmost part of the state's Upper Peninsula. At that time, Trump had 65% of the statewide vote, more than double the 31% his nearest competitor, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, had received.

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By the time polls closed, nearly 134,000 votes had already been tabulated from 20 counties across the state. The votes came from every major geographic region in the state, with the bulk coming from Oakland and Macomb counties in Detroit's northern suburbs, and from southeastern Michigan.

Trump built an early lead once the first results came in from Oakland at about 8:08 p.m. and had won every subsequent vote update by the time the last polls closed at 9:00 p.m.

At the time he was declared the winner, the former president was far ahead in every geographic region — and by almost three-to-one in more conservative northern Michigan.

He also had big leads across the state's political geography. When the last polls closed, he had a 12-point lead in counties that voted heavily for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election. These types of counties are usually where Haley has performed best. Trump led in heavily Republican counties by an almost four-to-one margin.

In the state’s last competitive Republican primary, Trump won 72 of Michigan’s 83 counties, en route to a 12-percentage-point win. He saw his worst performance along the state’s western border, losing to Sen. Ted Cruz in Kent County — home to Grand Rapids, historically the GOP stronghold in the western side of the state — and its surrounding counties. But at the time the race was called Tuesday, Trump was slightly ahead in Kent.

Tonight’s primary elections also marked the first major statewide race since Michigan expanded early voting and allowed for early tabulation of absentee ballots last year. Approximately 1 million voters cast a ballot in either the Democratic or Republican primary before Election Day.