MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — In the race for the White House, an election battle is brewing in Muskegon County.
Both presidential candidates are making a play for Muskegon County.
As President Donald Trump plans to visit Muskegon County Saturday for a rally, Democratic candidate Joe Biden rolled out a new TV advertisement Friday with a message specifically for Muskegon voters.
While historically, Muskegon County has turned out in favor of the Democrat on the ticket, the race has grown closer in recent years.
In 2012, Democrats won big. President Barack Obama beat GOP candidate Mitt Romney by 17.7 percentage points with 13,552 more votes.
In 2016, Muskegon County still went blue but by a much slimmer margin. Democrat Hillary Clinton claimed a victory in the county over Trump by 1.5%. Trump coming in with just 1,177 fewer votes than Clinton.
News 8 Political Reporter Rick Albin said it’s likely these numbers have the Trump campaign making a big push in Muskegon this time around.
“They look for these counties where they think they have the opportunity to flip them or get some more votes,” Albin said. “To get enough votes all piled together to get those 16 electoral votes here in the state (of Michigan).”
Chairman of the Muskegon County Republican Party, Joseph Bush, is hopeful Trump’s visit will be enough to seal the deal.
“I think that’s the reason why he’s coming here is because he knows that we’re in play,” Bush said. “The margin is that thin again one way or the other, otherwise he wouldn’t be coming.”
While Trump’s visit will make history as he’ll be only the fourth sitting president to visit the Muskegon area, Biden’s campaign is making a play of their own with their latest ad.
The TV ad references Muskegon’s unemployment rate, touting his plan to achieve economic recovery.
Albin said it’s unusual to see a national campaign come out with such a specific message for one county in particular.
“There are 50 states like this all across that big map and all of these counties and all of those states, and (Biden) singled out Muskegon County,” Albin said. “But this is a new type of campaigning as you can see because things can be directed so specifically.”
The chair of Muskegon County’s Democratic Party, Jennifer Barnes, said this ad should go a long way with Muskegon viewers.
“This is an area that’s dominated by unions and they will appreciate that they are being acknowledged (and) that we need to buy American-made products made by union labor,” Barnes said.