Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has a 5-point lead over her top Republican rival, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, according to a new poll released this week.
The EPIC-MRA poll shows Whitmer winning the support of 46 percent of voters, while Craig trails at 41 percent. Another 13 percent remain undecided or refused to say who they would vote for.
Whitmer leads Craig in spite of her negative job approval rating. The poll found that overall, 45 percent of respondents have a positive opinion of Whitmer’s handling of her job as governor compared to 52 percent who have a negative view of her work in office.
At the same time, a plurality of Michigan voters polled — 45 percent — say that the state is on the “wrong track.” Just over one-third of respondents — 35 percent — believe the state is heading in the right direction, while 20 percent are either undecided or refused to say.
Whitmer’s lead over Craig may be due in part to the fact that the former police chief remains unknown to most voters. Only 20 percent of respondents say they have a favorable opinion of Craig, while 9 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. Fifty-five percent say that they don’t recognize his name.
Whitmer’s favorability, meanwhile, remains above water. Fifty percent of Michigan voters surveyed have a favorable opinion of the governor, while 43 percent see her in an unfavorable light, according to the survey.
While Whitmer’s approval rating is underwater, she still performs better on that front than President Biden. Only 32 percent of respondents gave Biden positive reviews on his job performance. Two-thirds — 66 percent — gave Biden a negative rating for his handling of the presidency.
Whitmer was first elected to the governor’s mansion in 2018, the same year that Democrats dominated races up and down the ballot. But she’s facing strong headwinds heading into her reelection bid this year.
The EPIC-MRA poll surveyed 600 active and likely Michigan voters from Jan. 15-20. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.