BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — As former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. pulls ahead in Michigan, it is becoming clear that he has accomplished two goals that Democrats believed were key to regaining Midwestern battleground states.
First, he increased turnout in Detroit considerably, where low African-American enthusiasm kept many voters away from the polls in 2016. Wayne County, which includes the city of Detroit, was still counting its ballots on Wednesday. And in Detroit itself, where only half of precincts had fully reported, almost as many ballots were reported counted as in all of 2016.
Mr. Biden was winning Detroit with nearly 95 percent of the vote.
Second, Mr. Biden benefited from a groundswell of discontent with President Donald J. Trump in the Detroit suburbs. Mr. Trump did well in the white, middle class communities he won last time in places like Macomb County, one of the nation’s bellwethers that President Barack Obama also carried. But that support does not appear to have been enough to overcome the shifts against him in suburbs that were once more friendly.
That shift was especially pronounced in well-heeled Oakland County suburbs like Bloomfield Hills, where Mitt Romney grew up and where being a Democrat was once one of the surest impediments to getting elected at any level of government.
In 2016, there were about a dozen precincts in the area that voted for Mr. Trump. But only a small handful did this time.
The Republican Party has long relied on well-to-do suburbanites who believe their economic interests will be better served by fiscally conservative policy prescriptions like tax cuts and deregulation. And while Mr. Trump’s presidency accelerated the flight of these voters into the Democratic Party, those changes were slower to arrive in Bloomfield Hills.
In Oakland, the state’s second-largest county, Mr. Biden was leading by 14 points as of Wednesday morning, a significant improvement over the Democratic presidential candidates on the ballot before him. Like many suburban enclaves across the Midwestern battlegrounds, women voters were especially activated this time.
Evidence of their enthusiasm was apparent in candidates for local office like Dani Walsh, a former Republican who ran for Bloomfield Township supervisor and won, becoming the first woman and Democrat to occupy the office.