UPDATED: Washtenaw election official predicts county turnout at 70 percent - or more - for Obama
Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com
Final Washtenaw County voting figures are in.
Sixty-seven percent of Washtenaw County voters turned out to re-elect U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday, falling short of county clerk Lawrence Kestenbaum's original prediction that 70 percent would vote for a re-election. Romney garnered 31.3 percent of the county's popular vote.
In Michigan, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, Obama won 53.6 percent of the popular vote, gaining the state's 16 electoral college votes and furthering Obama's edge over GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
Overall 181,032 registered voters voted in Washtenaw County Tuesday, compared to 188,000 voters in the 2008 election. The 64.5 percent turnout rate was lower than in 2008.
Update: 12:57 a.m.
Chanting 'four more years' and 'USA, USA' hundreds of University of Michigan students gathered at the iconic Diag Tuesday night -into early morning Wednesday- to celebrate the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama.
"This is the best day of my life," said U-M freshman Stacy Lamekin, who voted in her first election Tuesday.
Bundled in their winter gear, students flooded the Diag after television networks declared Obama's win over GOP challenger Mitt Romney. One supporter carried a cardboard Obama cutout.
Amid their chanting, students cheered and hugged each other.
"We needed to be with people. it was just such a feeling of celebration that we knew we had to be with people," said fellow U-M student Kate Berg.
U-M Sophomore Clay Gonzalez, who was in chamber choir rehearsal when he learned of Obama's victory, had an emotional reaction to the news.
"I did a dance and I started crying," he said. "I had a lot at stake in the election."
Fellow sophomore Perry Maddox voted for the first time this election. Maddox said having a stake in the results increased his awareness about "how much of an impact the election would have on things I am involved with."
Update: 12:15 a.m.
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said he was glad to President Barack Obama re-elected Tuesday night, but he said there's a lot of work that remains to end the partisan gridlock in Congress.
"It was a strong day for Democrats, but it still leaves us with a national government that's going to have to overcome the deadlock that we've seen and that effects every local government in this nation," he said. "We've got to start to work together a lot better than we've seen in the past."
Update: 12:00 a.m.
When the talking heads of CNN declared California and Hawaii easily in President Barack Obama's hands, the roughly 100 University of Michigan students gathered at the Michigan Union to watch late night election results cheered.
Sure, those states are squarely Democratic each presidential election, but the crowd was boisterous and ready to congratulate each other on 'four more years.'
When CNN called Idaho for Romney, the bulk of students at the event, advertised as nonpartisan, booed.
Then the race was called for Obama and students at Buffalo Wild Wings tweeted about tears of joy and students gathered to celebrate on U-M's iconic Diag.
Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com
It's no secret: The majority of U-M students self-indentify as Democrats. In 2011, 41 percent of incoming freshmen identified themselves as liberals and 39 percent identified themselves as moderates, while just 21 percent of incoming freshmen considered themselves conservative.
While the majority of students were certainly cheering for Obama, many were excited about voting in their first presidential election.
"It feels wonderful. I was so excited to turn in my ballot," said sophomore Kiana Alexander, who voted in her first presidential election Tuesday and celebrated at the Michigan Union election party. "I was going to vote straight ticket, but I just wanted to fill in all the bubbles."
Erica Young, a U-M senior who helped organize the late-night viewing party, said this election —her first presidential election— "feels just as important" as the 2008 race. She said the presidential race, along with the local ballot initiatives, have been a topic in classes.
"On Monday [one professor] spent the whole class talking about Michigan proposals," she said.
Update: 11:36 p.m.
With President Barack Obama pulling ahead in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, the 2012 race now seems squarely in his hands. According to current counts, Obama is expected to secure at least 275 electoral college votes, exceeding the 270 needed win.
In Michigan, with 27 percent of precincts reporting, Obama has 51.2 percent of the vote, or 726,951 ballots. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has 47.8 percent of the popular vote, with 679,293 votes.
In Washtenaw County, with 48 precent of precincts reporting, Obama has received nearly 67 percent of the popular vote, with Romney garnering 31.2 percent.
Update: 10:20 p.m.
President Barack Obama continues his lead in Michigan, further solidifying his hold on the state’s 16 electoral college votes. With 20 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Obama has received 585,881 votes, compared with the 559,275 votes for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Obama's 50.7 percent of the state's popular vote leads over Romney's 48.4 percent.
In Washtenaw County, with 20 percent of precincts reporting, Obama has received 62 percent of the vote, compared to Romney’s 37 percent.
Update: 9:21 p.m.
Some analysts are calling the state of Michigan for President Barack Obama.
As of 9:20 p.m., with roughly 5 percent of Michigan precincts reporting, Obama has received 264,559 votes, or 52.6 percent of the popular vote. GOP challenger Mitt Romney has received 234,327 votes, or 46.6 percent of the popular vote.
"It's inconceivable that Obama could lose the county," said Lawrence Kestenbaum, county clerk since 2004.
To put it in Kestenbaum's words, the county is "getting bluer and bluer."
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Washtenaw County has been trending Democratic for several elections, but it hasn't always been that way. In 1961, for example, the entire 10-member city council and mayor of Ann Arbor were Republican.
"This used to be one of the most Republican counties in Michigan," said Kestenbaum. "It's changed a lot over time."
Meanwhile, voter turnout has been high like in 2008, both Golembiewski and Kestenbaum said, though their observations were anecdotal when they spoke at about 7 p.m.
In 2008, roughly 68 percent of registered voters, or 188,000 people, visited the polls.
Golembiewski expects this year's turnout to exceed the 2008 election. He points to the 46,000 absentee ballots Washtenaw County has received, roughly 4,000 more than this time in 2008.
"It sure looked like we're going to be on par in 2008," Golembiewski said of turnout.
Kestenbaum expects a high turnout, but isn't quite as optimistic.
He expects voter turnout to hit 181,000 individuals.
"He's more optimistic than me," Kestenbaum said of Golembiewski.
"The degree of enthusiasm is down a bit from 2008. I see people who run into some kind of inconvenience and decide not to vote and I don't think we saw that in 2008."
Voter turnout numbers aren't available yet, though polls closed at 8 p.m.
Lines around Washtenaw County averaged between 30 and 60 minutes during peak hours Tuesday.
At times, however, voters waited in line for an estimated two and a half hours before casting their vote, according to Kestenbaum.
The long lines, coupled with a few glitches at certain polling places —including a computer malfunction at the Ann Arbor Community Center that stalled voting,— inconvenienced affected voters.
"During the time when no one was voting and there was a long line, some people left," Kestenbaum said of the Community Center glitch, during which voting was put on hold for roughly 30 minutes.
Golembiewski said no incidents of suspected voter fraud were reported to county election officials.