From the primary to post-election conspiracy theories and everything in between: The Advance’s best stories

By: - December 28, 2020 5:54 am

A President Donald Trump and a former Vice President Joe Biden supporter converse before the Joe Biden Campaign Rally at the National World War I Museum and Memorial on March 7, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. | Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Quotable of the Year:

“Sometimes I really step back and look at how big that primary stage was and so many talented people were on it, and yet throughout the process we picked the leader [Joe Biden] we need in this moment. That’s why I do trust the American system. It’s not perfect but it’s the best in the world.”

— Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before the Dec. 14 Electoral College vote

It’s been a big year of news. To end 2020, the Advance is running a series of our best stories from some of the many issues we cover, from the COVID-19 pandemic to education to the election. We’ll also have a roundup of stories that you might have missed.

Here’s our roundup of our top election stories:

Weeks before Michigan’s March 10 Democratic primary, which President-elect Joe Biden won, Bernie Sanders’ campaign looked to be gaining ground in Michigan, with young voters emerging as a force.

Elizabeth Warren dropped out before Michigan’s primary, dashing the hopes of the progressive women who fueled her campaign.

President-elect Joe Biden won Michigan’s primary after campaigning in Detroit with Kamala Harris, who became his running mate, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was on his short list.

President Donald Trump did a number of rallies in Michigan in 2020, particularly in the closing weeks of the election. Days after state and federal agents foiled a terrorist plot against Whitmer, “Lock her up!” chants broke out at a Muskegon Trump event.

Michigan only ended up with two ballot measures, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult for groups to gather signatures for citizen-led petitions. But this process itself is controversial, as groups are not barred from lying to get signatures. The Advance looked at possible reforms and First Amendment issues.

The Advance did a deep dive into efforts of the Biden and Trump campaigns to woo Black male voters in Detroit.

A month before the election, the Advance delved into the legal issues before and after the election — specifically if the Legislature could get involved and try to appoint a slate of Trump electors even if he lost. This would turn out to be highly relevant as Trump’s lawyers tried to pressure GOP lawmakers to do just that.

As part of our States Newsroom series looking at voting rights across the state, “Battle for the Ballot,” we looked at voter fraud myths and why they persist.

On the eve the election, Trump returned to Grand Rapids, where he ended his 2016 campaign, in hopes that he would win Michigan and the election again. On Nov. 3, he lost Michigan by about 154,000 votes.

Biden was declared the winner in Michigan on Nov. 4 by the AP and other media outlets. Three days later, outlets called the election for him with a 306-232 lead in the electoral college. His popular vote lead would grow to about 7 million votes.


After the election, the Advance did a series on the new Biden coalition and talked to young voters about why they showed up to the polls in 2020.

Some Black voters cited Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and Biden’s choice of Harris, who is Black and Indian-American, as reasons why the Democrat clinched their votes.

Trump made immigration restrictions a centerpiece of his administration and immigrant voters, including some who usually vote Republican, told the Advance they were motivated to vote Democratic this year.

Some LGBTQ voters said they weren’t sure how much progress would be made under Biden.

Educators who have long clashed with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ aggressive school choice agenda expressed relief to have Biden in the White House, especially as future first Lady Jill Biden teaches college.

African-American and Asian-American women told the Advance that having Harris elected as vice president sent a powerful message.

In spite of Biden’s majority win in Michigan, Republican lawmakers have spent the weeks since Nov. 3 entertaining myths and conspiracy theories about election irregularities, particularly in Detroit.

The Advance did an explainer on what would happen if the bipartisan state board didn’t certify the election, which it ended up doing after a long hearing on Nov. 23.

Republican leaders went to the White House before Thanksgiving and talked with Trump about COVID-19 relief and his plan to overturn the election.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was invited in December to essentially run a Michigan House hearing in which GOP activists, who were not sworn in under oath, repeated election conspiracies rejected in court. Giuliani was hospitalized days later with COVID-19.

The Michigan Advance tried to track down all 80 Michigan GOP lawmakers in December to see if they acknowledged Biden won the election and if they back Trump’s attempts to overturn the election.

On Dec. 14, the Electoral College met and voted for Biden and Harris.

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