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In battleground states, few counties flipped even when states did

Voter turnout spiked this election in battleground states across the country.

Nearly every county in NBC News’ 13 battleground states increased turnout from the 2016 election, according to an analysis of NBC News election results. Of those thousand-plus counties, only 12 had lower turnouts than in the last election, as of the latest results.

While Joe Biden was able to flip four of the 13 states from President Donald Trump and win three more states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, the picture remains largely unchanged within the states themselves.

Out of 1,118 counties in battleground states, only 37 flipped, or 0.3 percent, which meant control of the states rested largely on parties’ turning out votes within counties they had won before.


More than 70 percent of Michigan voters turned out, an increase of almost 10 percentage points over 2016. The state, part of the so-called blue wall, went to Biden after having flipped for Trump in 2016.

Jake Berlin, a first-time voter from Oakland County, teetered on the fence about his decision this year all the way up until he reached his polling place.

“I felt I could be tipping the scale one way or another and felt like I had a good amount of power,” Berlin said. “That was exciting.”

Berlin did not vote in 2016. He said he had a change of heart because of Michigan’s role as a swing state.

“You’ve kind of got to make sure your voice is heard, otherwise it’s just going to be everyone else’s voice heard,” he said.

Berlin said he voted for Trump. His county went for Biden.


Florida, a decisive state in more than one presidential election, had 64 percent voter turnout, up from 57 percent in 2016.

A precinct in the University of Central Florida in Orange County even exceeded a 100 percent voter turnout.

Danaë Rivera-Marasco, a spokesperson for the Orange County Elections Commission, said the commission worked closely with the UCF student government association to encourage young voters to vote.

“It’s great to see young engagement and that they took responsibility,” Rivera-Marasco said. “We haven’t seen anything like that in past elections.”


Arizona was one of the states with the greatest increases in voter turnout, up by 10 percentage points from 2016. Only four counties went to Clinton in 2016, and according to the latest results five have gone to Biden.

This year, more than 300,000 Democratic voters turned out in Maricopa County than in 2016, flipping it to Biden, who holds a lead over Trump in the state. The region, which includes Phoenix, is the state’s most populous county.

North Carolina

Turnout in North Carolina, another such swing state, rose by 7 percentage points over 2016. Scotland County is one of three counties in the state to have flipped this year, having voted for Clinton in 2016 and switching to Trump this year.

Dell Parker, elections director of the Scotland County Board of Elections, said that even with the popularity of mail-in and absentee ballots, the board expected a larger outcome on Election Day.

“We had heard a lot of people talking about the election, so we kind of prepared for a big turnout,” Parker said. “We were actually a little disappointed that more people did not come.”

The state’s final vote count is expected Tuesday.

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