Michigan's Senate race could come down to the last vote

Nov 4, 2020 at 12:45 pm
click to enlarge Republican Senate hopeful John James, left, and Democratic Sen. Gary Peters. - John James campaign, U.S. Senate
John James campaign, U.S. Senate
Republican Senate hopeful John James, left, and Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.

Michigan's all-important U.S. Senate race is coming down to the wire, with Democratic incumbent Gary Peters and Republican challenger John James neck and neck.

As of Wednesday afternoon, James had 2,505,006 votes, or 49.3% of the vote, while Peters trailed slightly with 2,471,119, or 48.7% of the vote, with 90% of precincts reporting.

However, there are still about 100,000 ballots yet to be counted, primarily in cities like Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids, and most of the ballots are absentee, which have favored Democrats.

The race marks James's second attempt for the Senate. The Farmington Hills businessman launched an unsuccessful bid for Sen. Debbie Stabenow's seat in the 2018 election.

Both Peters and James ran somewhat bizarre campaigns in that neither seemed to want voters to know which one was the Democrat and which one was the Republican. That's a bit strange because the stakes were high for the U.S. Senate contest, with Democrats across the country having an opportunity to wrest control of the chamber from Republicans. Indeed, the Peters-James race was so heated that it was perhaps the most expensive in Michigan's history.

For a time, it appeared the strategy might have backfired for Peters, with a poll released last month showing the race narrowing to a virtual tie. (Some believed voters assumed James, the Black guy, was the Democrat, and Peters, the older white guy, was the Republican.)

Numerous polls put Peters well ahead of James, but an October poll placed the two in a virtual tie. James had a strong lead on Peters as election results came in on Tuesday, but Peters narrowed the lead as absentee ballots were counted.

James's strategy has been to distance himself from President Donald Trump during the campaign. However, on Wednesday, James seemed to follow Trump's lead in preemptively declaring victory and casting doubt over the legitimacy of the election.

"Michigan elected it's (sic) first Black Senator," read a tweet shared by his campaign. "The people have spoken. John James has won this race. The ballots are counted. Stop making up numbers, stalling the process and cheating the system."

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