Stan Greenberg and Andrew Baumann
Democracy Corps


Executive Summary

Entering the first debate of the presidential contest, Barack Obama has significantly improved his standing in one of the key bellwether counties in the country - Macomb County, Michigan.

In the last report, released at the start of the Democratic Convention, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Democracy Corps found that Obama was struggling to consolidate his base in this white, blue-collar suburb and concluded that winning back these working class Democratic defectors would be a key goal for the Democratic nominee. The media and the major candidates have travelled there to make their case and tilt this key state.

A new survey conducted in Macomb shows that Obama has made great progress doing just that: He has moved from a 7-point deficit to a dead-heat with McCain (43-44 Obama-McCain), now matching John Kerry’s performance in 2004.

Key Findings

The key has been winning back disaffected Democrats. A month ago, Obama was able to win just 71 percent of Democrats; He has now boosted that number to 80 percent, many of them coming at the expense of Ralph Nader whose support has fallen from 8 to 3 percent. Moreover, these gains have come in some of his most problematic demographics:

  • White Non-College Democrats: up 12 points
  • Moderate or Conservative Democrats: up 9 points
  • White union members: up 12 points

Obama has also made large strides on a number of key personal traits. In August, only 48 percent of Macomb voters said Obama was “on your side” - that number is up to 57 percent. Similarly, the percentage saying that Obama “shares your values” has risen from 51 to 58 percent.

Finally, Obama has begun closing the gap with McCain on security issues, something we identified in August as a key roadblock to Obama sealing the deal with Democratic defectors. Macomb voters still believe that McCain will do a better job on Iraq and national security, but Obama has shaved these margins by 9 and 13 points, respectively.

Barack Obama has closed the gap in Macomb County, and this puts him one step closer to claiming Michigan’s all-important 17 electoral votes in November.

Obama is also ahead statewide in Michigan - according to a second Greenberg Quinlan Rosner/Democracy Corps poll conducted at the same time as the survey in Macomb. Obama is taking 49 percent, compared to 42 percent for McCain, 4 for Nader and 1 percent for Barr. These are important pieces in Obama being able to create a winning Electoral College map.


Both the Macomb and Michigan surveys were conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps.  Both surveys fielded September 21-44, 2008.  The Macomb survey has a sample size of 750 likely voters, and a margin of error of +/-3.7.  The Michigan statewide survey has a sample size of 760 likely voters, and a margin of error of +/-3.6.