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Posted on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

Washtenaw election official predicts county turnout at 70 percent - or more - for Obama

By Kellie Woodhouse


People gathered to celebrate at the University of Michigan campus Diag after President Obama was elected to a second term on Tuesday evening.

Daniel Brenner I

Editor's note: is covering the presidential election and voter turnout through a local lens in this post, which will be updated throughout the night.

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.


Supporters celebrate at the University of Michigan campus Diag after President Obama was elected to a second term on Tuesday night.

Daniel Brenner I

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.

8:04 p.m.

A top Washtenaw County election official predicts that at least 70 percent of registered county voters will re-elect President Barack Obama over GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

"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."


President Barack Obama spoke at the University of Michigan's graduation in 2010.

Melanie Maxwell |

In 2000 59.8 percent of voters chose Democratic candidate Al Gore, in 2004 63.4 percent of voters picked Democrat John Kerry and in 2008 a record 69.6 percent of voters, "in a landslide," voted for Obama, according to Ed Golembiewski, county director of elections.

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.

Follow the results

Keep an eye on the voter tallies as they come in

"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.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Interestingly, hundreds of students also flooded the Diag after Obama was first elected in 2008. I found this article doing research recently:

Soft Paw

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

I knew Obama would win the county, but 67% is very high considering Romney was born 40 miles from here and his dad was governor.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

Romney lost just about every state he lived in. Besides losing in Michigan, Massachusetts (where he was governor) was never a possibility for him to carry. He lost in New Hampshire, too. He carried Utah, though some Mormons in Utah have criticized his proposed programs that would have hurt those in need. I think his "hail Mary" lies about the auto companies supposedly cutting jobs backfired on him. When top executives of GM and Chrysler joined workers in complaining about it, it had to be picked up by media. Romney toyed with workers glad to have good jobs when he said they would lose their jobs, which wasn't true. I think the timing of the closing by Bain of the very profitable Sensata Company in Illinois to send the jobs to China affected some voters. Bain had the workers who were to be laid off train the workers who would take over their jobs abroad. Romney benefits when Bain outsources because he has a large investment in Bain Capital. Also, the disclosure that Romney had made millions of dollars from GM holdings while he was against helping GM and then Romney held his earnings from the deal off shore, even though there is a stipulation against that type of gain being held off shore.

Top Cat

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Obama and his supporters have earned their victory and should savor the moment. However, everything they kicked down the road comes due in 2013 and 2014. The next round begins tomorrow.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Isnt it funny how the stock market dropped 300 pts just because Obama was elected. Democrats are not the party to create an atmosphere for business to create jobs. Generally democrats tends to be poorer and/or union employee. Retirement funds are not a concern. Their only hope is that social security will be there for them to retire someday. Take care of me, cradle to grave.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Also, market averages went up excessively ahead of the election results. Stock futures were barely unchanged pre-market and it was news from Europe that triggered the drop we needed to have after excessive moves up recently.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Brad, don't confuse Harry with statistics.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

DJIA on the day after elections in 2008: 9139 Today: 12953 (+42%)


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

Informative news that the 2012 Washtenaw County turn out was a little lower than 2008. Upon seeing as many Romney supporters at the water cooler where I work, I thought I was in KY. Another spin off story would be upgrading the voting ballots where using a black mark blob becomes obsolete. Not sure why this method has not been changed since, the 1990s?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Barack Obama is exactly like the coworker that many of us have had at one time or another who failed miserably at his job but never got fired because the only thing he did well was smooth-talk his boss and trick him into foolishly thinking they are best buddies. The boss is the American electorate in that analogy, if you were wondering. And if you're not sure of a specific example, he's basically like Matt Millen.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

I'm sorry, the link I sent was not good. Here it is: Tiny: Full:


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Wow, he turned around an economic caused by Bush and Republicans, and we've been steadily digging ourselves out the hole they created. This graph says so much: This is a record of accomplishment.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

My best to all candidates win or lose, the people have spoken. This time instead of focusing on 2016 let's focus on the here, and the now. We need to put to rest are divisive rhetoric, and get this country back to work for the good of all!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Agreed. Good comments.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

These kids don't know what is coming at the them- it called a freight train. Good luck


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Good luck Kids! Don't worry about paying off your college debt when you graduate because borrowing and default is the American way and who better to teach you fiscal responsibility, your newly re-elected president. Of course the dollar isn't going to be devalued that much, and our borrowing power isn't going down that much, and inflation, whatever. Gas, 6, 8, or 10 dollars a gallon doesn't matter, you can borrow a huge amount to buy an electric car and use it everywhere. Actually, why don't I just pay for some of your school debt since I pay huge taxes now and the plan is to tax me more and give it you. Then when you can't find a job when you graduate, have no worries, whine, camp out in any city, and get your free phone. You helped re-elect the best leader for the job, Congrats!!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

.... and Romney would have solved all these problems by doing exactly what? I am surprised also by your litany of issues that you blame on President Obama. Hey, how come you did not blame Hurricane Sandy on the President?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

Ann Arbor offers the US hope for a more peaceful world. Look to Ole Miss in Oxford , MS last night. The ensuing riot by those students looked more like America of old..


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Mississippi, last in education and number one in food stamp recipients. Ignorant, hungry, jobless and angry at the wrong people and voting against their own self interests.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

I hope those celebrating students remember this day when they're looking for jobs a few years from now.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

4 years ago, I was a Mich grad forced to work part time at Applebees because the auto industry collapsed and had my job offer pulled. Today, I have a great job. So I'd say they'll be looking back fondly, just as I have!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

I was one of those celebrating students 4 years ago, and I'm happily employed now!

Annette Poole

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

I'm feeling slightly confident for Obama. I believe Romney's won the majority of what he's going to win (such as the southern states) and Obama will end up sweeping up the rest.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

Gee. You mean to say that the wild-eyed tea party types who seem to dominate this so-called "newspaper's" discussions don't represent mainstream thought in Ann Arbor? Who knew?

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

" once they got to this site, they couldn't figure out how to leave it and go to another one." says one of the regulars here.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

I know you didn't mean it this way, but that's actually a compliment.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:25 a.m.

A lot of the commentary on this site can be explained by the fact that cranky old people got their son to set up the World Wide Web for them, but once they got to this site, they couldn't figure out how to leave it and go to another one.

Urban Sombrero

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:01 a.m.

OK, so, I can watch the major networks for Presidential race info. I want to know about the proposals! State and Ann Arbor. Any news?

Urban Sombrero

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

@Erocypsi, I saw that on I was hoping it wasn't necessarily true. And, thanks, Julie. I hope you keep us posted on all fronts. I'm in this for the long haul, you guys. I've brewed coffee and everything. lol

Julie Baker

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

We're awaiting returns in the local proposals. You can follow the statewide ballot returns on


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

Latest says that all props are going to fail with the exception of prop 1 which is too close to call.

An Arborigine

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2 a.m.

Is this the top story in local elections?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

Really? What a bold and reckless prediction for an "election official" to make.... Or is that editorializing in your headline? It implies a 70% win for Obama. How about wording it a bit precisely' like, "edge to Obama" or something that doesn't run it all together as if one candidate is going to achieve an unlikely 70% margin?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

In 1961, for example, the entire 10-member city council and mayor of Ann Arbor were Republican. What year did U of M Students become eligible to vote in Ann Arbor instead of their home residence?

Milton Shift

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

The year they began living there.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:38 a.m.

If, like me, you're watching live results, keep in mind that rural (i.e. more conservative) locations report earlier since they have fewer votes to count and fewer people voting after polls closes (if you're in line when polls close you still get to vote).


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:21 a.m.

I really hope Obama wins MI, so far it is not looking good for him, even though there is a long way to go before the winner is announced.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

Wayne county goes 75 - 80% for Obama, will be more than enough even if rest of state goes for Romney.