She computes some more. “I think probably I would win. But for me, it’s really important to have neighbors talking to neighbors and we haven’t been able to do as much of that.”
And then, a candid assessment: “I think, without doing the work, a smart person’s money should be on a Republican candidate. … I can’t take anything for granted given how this district was built.”
Fifteen minutes south of Flint and an hour west of Detroit, Holly is a quiet, scenic settlement, the sort of everyman’s resort town where people camp in the summer and ski in the winter. The Slotkin name is royalty here: Hugo Slotkin, who ran the family business, Hygrade Food Products, bought the farm in 1956, the year before his company gained eternal fame with the creation of the Ball Park Frank (“They plump when you cook ’em”) for Tiger Stadium in Detroit. His granddaughter, Elissa, was born in New York, but her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis forced the family to move to Michigan when she was 4. Raised between the farm and some nearby suburbs after her parents’ divorce, Slotkin says Holly was “always home base,” the rallying point for her family, and where she and Dave live today, along with their two dogs and, temporarily, a cousin and his wife.
Even so, Holly, like the rest of Slotkin’s district, is a house divided—a house with a foundation that leans slightly, but noticeably, to the right. She won two of Holly’s four precincts in 2018. But the total vote from her hometown was Bishop: 2,588, Slotkin: 2,243.
The war for the White House in 2020 will come down to a series of smaller battles waged on unique fronts across the country, not simply at the statewide level but inside the towns, counties and congressional districts where the demographic trends are sharpest and the turnout margins are tightest. It is in these places—from the emerging sun-drenched barrios of Phoenix, to the historic and prosperous neighborhoods of northeastern Philadelphia, to the quaint, overlooked, suburban-meets-rural communities like Holly—that control of the White House, and likely the Senate and House of Representatives, will ultimately be decided.