“It’s not as red as they always say. We are quieter, but we are here,” says Macomb Township Ph.D student Andrea Geralds.

MACOMB TWP., MI—In a battleground state, Macomb County is a battleground county. Politics is everywhere in Macomb Township, yard signs for candidates are everywhere, and while Republican signs outnumber Democratic ones, that lead is on a razor’s edge. 

Macomb Township is the most populous civil township in Michigan with nearly 90,000 residents. It’s a suburb in Metro Detroit and is billed as offering a suburban-rural environment to young families. But in terms of politics, the town is at odds. 

Macomb Township resident Andrea Geralds feels this way. A Ph.D student and young professional, she uses her vote to keep schools safe from the coronavirus, to protect a woman’s right to choose, and to bring an end to police violence against Black Americans.

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“My community, they aren’t all bad people,” said “They just lost their way a bit. In the fear and the hate and anger. Fears like that. Most of them still feed stray animals, help each other out. I don’t think they want to be this angry.”

But, Geralds said, they are. Geralds said people rev their engines and scream out their windows when driving by signs for Democratic candidates in her town. She’s concerned about her community being a powder keg of politics, waiting for a match to strike and burst the community into more dramatic conflict. Conversations about politics, she said, rapidly devolve into shouting matches and name-calling.

But that feeling of unease comes from a small minority of people, she explained. And those loud, divisive people drown out the more moderate or progressive voices in Macomb.

“Most people are still okay, you know?” she said to The ‘Gander. “It’s not as red as they always say. We are quieter, but we are here.”

Geralds said she actually doubts President Donald Trump will again carry Macomb County this year. While he took an 11-point victory in Macomb in 2016, in both 2008 and 2012 the county voted for President Barack Obama. 

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Yards where she traditionally sees Republican signs either have none, or notably are missing signs promoting President Trump for a second term. But she isn’t sure that carries down the ballot.

“My thought right now is that Trump will [lose] Macomb, but John James might take it,” she said. “John James has no platform, he has no real moral compass.”

It’s Sen. Gary Peters that has Geralds’ vote this November, she explained. 

“Gary Peters may not always do what I want him to do, but nobody will,” she said. “He is solid, dependable, he doesn’t cause stress or drama and he is smart as it comes. Quiet competence is not a characteristic I undervalue.”

Pivot Counties are counties that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but Trump in 2016. They’re considered a bellwether for the outcome of 2020. Infographic by Denzel Boyd and Katelyn Kivel.

Unpacking the Power of Pivot Counties

Pivot counties are areas in states that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but then voted in  Trump in 2016. Of Michigan’s 12 pivot counties, Macomb is the largest. And according to data compiled by Ballotpedia, that pivot in Macomb was an almost 15-point swing from Obama to Trump.

Michigan’s other pivot counties include: Bay, Calhoun, Eaton, Gogebic, Isabella, Lake, Manistee, Monroe, Saginaw, Shiawassee, and Van Buren.

Pivot counties were initially identified by Ballotpedia following the 2016 election, and represent fewer than 5% of Americans. But they may decide the election reports the Observer. The Observer called pivot counties in swing states “demolition charges” that collapsed the so-called blue wall formed of Midwest states supporting Democratic candidates.

Now, if those counties pivot again, they could be the deciding factor in a second term for President Trump. 

There’s also the senate race, which is as important as the presidential race. 

RealClearPolitics averages show that while Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden has a 6-point lead in Michigan, Peters is on a much closer 4-point lead against John James. 

Of the ten most competitive races this November, Peters is one of only two Democratic incumbents in a tough battle. If Peters loses, four of the eight endangered Republican incumbents have to lose for control of the Senate to shift. 

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In order to flip control of the Senate, Democrats must pick up a net total of three seats. If Senate control doesn’t shift, regardless of who becomes president, the policies America pursues may not meaningfully change. COURIER explained that hundreds of bills have stalled in the US Senate, including coronavirus relief, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) focused on his quest to radically transform the American judiciary. 

McConnell has used his procedural authority as the leader of the Senate to prevent legislation he dislikes from ever coming to a vote, including a package of electoral reforms proposed in 2019 that roughly matches what Michiganders passed a year earlier. He assured his supporters in Kentucky that he would act as the “grim reaper” of Democratic-led initiatives, ensuring they never reach the Senate floor. 

Peters’ election is one of the linchpins of the broader national effort to oust McConnell from the position of power experts have accused him of abusing

There’s also considering how close down ballot races tend to be. 

Geralds, for instance, is running for her local school board. All told, Geralds said she may be exhausted by this election cycle—and with the state of politics in her pivot county. But, she still is intent on doing her part.

“I just want this done so we can start picking up the pieces of what used to be a government and country,” she said.

Early voting in Michigan is already underway, you can get more information here. You can follow The ‘Gander’s election hub for ongoing coverage of the 2020 election.