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Debate reaction from the heartland

BATTLE CREEK, Michigan (CNN) -- Chicago Bureau Chief Jeff Flock will have live post-debate reaction on CNN throughout the day from Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan -- also known as "Cereal City, USA." His reports will include a live Webcast on at 2 p.m. EDT.

Battle Creek is located along Interstate 94, almost halfway between Chicago and Detroit. Kellogg's, one of the world's largest cereal makers, has been based here since its founding in 1906. We begin the day listening to reaction to the Bush-Gore debate at Schrank's Restaurant in the heart of downtown Battle Creek, in business since 1932. Later, we'll be at a cereal manufacturing plant talking with Kellogg's workers.

Facts about Calhoun County, Michigan:
Median income $44,491
Poverty Rate 10.3%
Population 87.3% white, 10.6% black

Michigan, with its 18 electoral votes, is a key battleground state for Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Calhoun County, in the southwestern corner of the state, has been an electoral bellwether for Michigan as a whole. In the last three presidential elections, the county vote nearly mirrored that of the state.

Key state for candidates

Electoral history: Bill Clinton carried the state twice by margins exceeding the national average. He won in 1992 with slightly more than a 7-point margin and in 1996 with slightly more than a 13-point margin. The Republicans carried Michigan three times in the 1980s.

Michigan Voter Turnout
  Calhoun County Statewide

Clinton 50.1% 51.7%
Dole 40.0 38.5
Perot 9.1 8.7

Clinton 43.5 43.8
Bush 33.7 36.4
Perot 22.2 19.3

Bush 53.8 53.6
Dukakis 45.6 45.7

Political history and control: The GOP controls the governorship, one U.S. Senate seat, and both houses of the state legislature. The Democrats control one U.S. Senate seat and have a 10-6 advantage in the state's House delegation.

Demographics: Michigan voters age 65 and over were closely divided in 1996. They supported Clinton over Dole by only 3 points (48 percent to 45 percent), while voters under 65 supported Clinton by a more solid 14-point margin (52 percent to 38 percent). If this state is tight on Election Day, Gore may need to boost his party's margin among older voters in order to finish ahead of Bush.

Geography: Democrats are generally strongest in the so-called "I-75 corridor," the heavily populated stretch of communities in eastern Michigan from Detroit through Flint, Saginaw, and Bay City. They also typically run well in Ann Arbor, Lansing, and the Upper Peninsula. Republicans usually fare better in the Detroit suburbs and western Michigan, especially Grand Rapids and Traverse City.

Battleground: The real battleground in Michigan is found outside Detroit in the suburbs of Oakland County, Macomb County, and western Wayne County. Oakland County, once a rock-solid Republican stronghold, is home to a large number of more affluent suburbanites who are fiscally conservative but often take moderate or liberal positions on hot-button social issues such as abortion and gun control. As the GOP has shifted more to the right on social issues, Oakland County has become increasingly competitive terrain for Democratic candidates.

On the other hand, Macomb County, home to the famous blue-collar "Reagan Democrats" of the 1980s, is now seen as increasingly favorable territory for the GOP. While still home to working-class social conservatives and union families, it has diversified in recent years, attracting more upscale social moderates as well. The result is fierce competition from both parties for Macomb County votes.

Finally, the suburbs immediately beyond the Detroit line in western Wayne County also contain a large number of swing suburbanites up for grabs in any close statewide contest.

Other: Gore has several possible advantages in Michigan. First, 40 percent of voters in 1996 came from union households, a constituency specifically targeted by Gore's pledge to "fight for working families." Second, Bush lost the Michigan primary to John McCain. Third, Rep. Debbie Stabenow's U.S. Senate campaign could create a highly energized, pro-Democratic female vote if she is competitive on Election Day. One possible reason for a Bush advantage in Michigan: Gore's environmental positions may not play well in a state so dependent upon the automobile industry.

Where do Bush and Gore stand on issues of importance to Europe? Launch our Interactive Guide.

View the latest tracking poll or dig into our poll archives.


Watch selected policy speeches and campaign commercials from the major presidential candidates.

See where George W. Bush and Al Gore stand on the major issues.

Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? What are the presidential primary results and exit polls? Find out with these state political and election facts.

Get Election 2000 zip code searchable candidate biographies and other material for races for governor, Senate and House in our Election Guide.

How much money have the candidates raised? Here are their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission.

If you need to know who's up in 2000 and what seats are open, launch this quick guide.

WEB WHITE AND BLUE is a partner in the Web White and Blue rolling cyber-debate, a daily online exchange among the major presidential candidates. Look for twice-daily updates Sunday through Friday until election day.


Thursday, October 12, 2000


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