Western Michigan, a longtime GOP stronghold, is now a battleground: "We see all that's developed in the Trump era"

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is ahead in Michigan 52 to 46%, a new CBS News Battleground Tracker poll shows. President Trump narrowly won the pivotal state in 2016.

Western Michigan has long been a Republican stronghold, but Democrats have had success in recent elections, making the region a premier battleground. Some elected officials say they believe the race is tighter than the polls show.

Voters like Adrien Ross have already decided. She said she will vote for Mr. Trump. The biggest factors in her decision are guns and abortion, she told CBS News correspondent Janet Shamlian.

Kearsten and Justin McCoy are just as set on their choice of Biden.

“I think one of the things that feels the most heartbreaking for me right now is the state of race relations and racism in America,” Kearsten said.

“It’s really important to me that everybody has access to health care,” Justin said. “It’s really important to me that we’re taking care of the planet.”

Both campaigns are pushing hard to rally their base. The president won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes in 2016, the smallest margin of victory in any state. Many of his supporters remain enthusiastic.

Jacque Hinds teaches a flower arranging class in the small community of Cedar Springs. Her decision to vote for Mr. Trump is based on a single issue.

“Pro-life,” she said. “That’s pretty much it. Honestly, I am not a fan of either candidate, but that is very important to me.”

The recent news about an alleged plot by an extremist group to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has shocked voters like Regina Manning, who blames the president’s rhetoric for emboldening such groups.

“The way he’s carrying on, I think he’s making it easier for people to show their true colors,” Manning said.

The African American community in Grand Rapids has been holding events to register voters. William Braylock and Iryonna Hogan say the president has let them down.

“He’s driving voters to the polls to vote him out,” Braylock said.

“He doesn’t stand up for the African American community,” Hogan said. “We want to feel supported in the things that we do and some of the injustice that happens.”

Amid a tight race, it may be Michiganders like Sally and Ron Pleune who help decide it. They’ve already voted, and it was the first time Sally has voted Democrat. 

“I need somebody that has a little compassion and thinks about the other person,” she said. 

“We see all that’s developed in the Trump era here of these past four years, and I’m asking myself, what is he doing to help us out? He’s denying that COVID even really exists. He says it’s no more than a flu,” Ron said. “He doesn’t show vision and he lies like a rug.”

With a population of almost 10 million, most are dug in and decided. What’s rare is voters still thinking it over.

“I don’t like the things that Donald Trump has to say about women, about minorities, about different ethnic groups. I think it’s very inappropriate. But I think he is appropriate to lead an economy and grow. He’s a businessman so I agree with that,” said voter Kim Hensley.

Vice President Mike Pence has announced he’ll be in Grand Rapids for a rally Wednesday and Biden was there a few weeks ago. Both sides believe they can win the critical region in an important state.