Though their margin of victory was relatively narrow, the fact that Democrats won all three races against strong Republicans is a sign of a sea change in western Washtenaw County. Conservative Republican farmers and exurbanites have dominated the area for generations, but population growth in suburban subdivisions is slowly but surely transforming the political landscape.
The county's population grew a robust 22 percent, to 345,000, over the last twenty years. Ann Arbor, its biggest city, rose a slim 3 percent, to 114,000. But together, Chelsea, Saline, Scio Township, and Dexter Village and Township grew an amazing 60 percent, to 44,000 residents. And the newcomers aren't conservative farmers.
"Chelsea and Dexter have become bedroom communities for Ann Arbor, fairly progressive bedroom communities," says Rob Turner. "The whole northwest is becoming more Democratic and more progressive, and that's making it harder for Republicans to be elected."
Though they differ on when it will happen, almost all the politicians interviewed agree that sooner or later the west side of the county will go blue.