The 2020 Presidential Election in 14 Minutes Through the Eyes of Michigan

The 2020 U.S. presidential election was as tumultuous as the year itself. And Michigan played a major role, from serving as a closely-contested battleground state to Trump claiming without evidence that Detroit officials rigged the election against him.

Click the audio player above to hear the 2020 presidential campaign in Michigan from start to finish in the words of the candidates themselves, including the moments that made national news and the election’s controversial aftermath.

Michigan members of Congress called for “impeaching the m-f” long before the process began in the U.S. House. President Trump sent racist tweets involving a Michigan congresswoman. 

Dawn Uhl-Zifilippo/WDET
Dawn Uhl-Zifilippo/WDET

Democrats collectively beat up on both Trump and the frontrunner for the party’s nomination, Joe Biden, during a candidate debate in Detroit. Michigan became a topic in the national debate.

Trump claimed to have brought numerous auto plants back to the Motor City and the metro region, even as the eruption of COVID-19 withered the state’s economy. Patients overwhelmed Michigan hospitals through the first part of the year, while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown to help limit the spread of the virus came under legal attack and eventually led to a plot to kidnap and execute her.


Quinn Klinefelter/WDET
Quinn Klinefelter/WDET


All of it became fodder for the presidential candidates who routinely campaigned in the battleground state. In the end, Biden defeated Trump by more than 154,000 votes in Michigan, capturing the state’s 16 electoral votes that the president had narrowly won four years earlier.

Republicans cried foul, falsely claiming election fraud. Trump supporters demanded entry to the TCF Center, where absentee counting boards met. Dozens more rallied outside the building days after the election ended. Two GOP members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers withheld their certification of the results, eventually voted yes, then called for a do-over after getting a call from Trump himself.

Eli Newman/WDET
Eli Newman/WDET

Detroit, in particular, became a target for Trump’s baseless accusations that the election had been stolen from him. State lawmakers held hearings on the allegations, featuring testimony so bizarre that it became grist for comedy sketches on Saturday Night Live.

The election was exhausting. It was highly divisive. And it validated the oft-repeated cliché from the presidential candidates who campaigned across Michigan and just across the state line in Toledo, Ohio that this very well could be the “most important election of our lifetimes.”


Here, in the words of those intimately involved in the race, is a look back at a contentious presidential contest where controversy lasted long after the final votes were cast.


  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.