Exclusive — Michigan Polls: James Craig Dominant in Primary, Tied with Gretchen Whitmer in General

Police Chief James Craig announced he will be retiring Monday, May 10, 2021 at DPD HQ. in Detroit, MI. James Craig. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich., Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. General Motors is spending $2.2 billion to refurbish the underused factory so …
Kirthmon F. Dozier via Imagn Content Services, LLC; AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Former Detroit police chief James Craig, a Republican running for governor of Michigan, is neck-and-neck tied with Democrat incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the general election and dominant in the primary with a solid double-digit lead over his next closest rival, according to a pair of internal polls his campaign provided exclusively to Breitbart News.

The polls, both conducted by the firm Strategic National whose CEO John Yob is advising the Craig campaign, seem to indicate Craig is in the driver’s seat heading into next year’s governor’s race in both the primary and the general election. They also signal support for Craig surged after his campaign announcement earlier this month, when leftist agitators attempted to interrupt the event, forcing the former police chief to move locations to get away from the disrupters mid-event.

“Chief Craig has built a massive lead in primary polling as we head into the critical Mackinac Island Straw Poll this weekend,” Yob told Breitbart News. “The General Election is now tied as the violent actions of the leftist radicals pulled the Chief even with Governor Whitmer. The Chief has significant room to grow against Whitmer as his name identification improves among the 35% of voters who do not yet know of him.”

MI Statewide General Toplines by Breitbart News on Scribd

The general election survey of 600 likely voters conducted from Sept. 18 to Sept. 19 found that in a head-to-head matchup with Craig, Whitmer leads by a negligible 0.6 percent. Whitmer, at 46.6 percent, is statistically tied with Craig, at 46 percent even, since the survey has a margin of error of four percent. In that hypothetical matchup, there are 7.4 percent undecided.

The survey also found that Whitmer has a slight lead, just outside the margin of error, over Craig’s fellow Republican Tudor Dixon—the former conservative media personality also running in the primary. In that hypothetical matchup, Whitmer’s 45.9 percent is 4.6 percent higher—outside the margin of error—than Dixon’s 41.3 percent. This question found a higher number of undecided voters, with 12.8 percent saying they were unsure between the two candidates.

As for Whitmer’s approval rating, 50.5 percent of likely voters in Michigan view her as favorable—with 35.1 percent saying they view her very favorably and 15.4 percent saying they her somewhat favorably. Inversely, 42.2 percent view her very unfavorably and 6.4 percent view her somewhat unfavorably—for a total net negative rating of 48.6 percent. Less than a full percent, 0.9 percent, say they have no opinion of her or never heard of her.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer introduces Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden to speak at Beech Woods Recreation Center in Southfield, Michigan, on October 16, 2020. - Joe Biden on October 16, 2020 described President Donald Trump's reluctance to denounce white supremacists as "stunning" in a hard-hitting speech in battleground Michigan with 18 days to go until the election. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer introduces Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden to speak at Beech Woods Recreation Center in Southfield, Michigan, on October 16, 2020. – Joe Biden on October 16, 2020 described President Donald Trump’s reluctance to denounce white supremacists as “stunning” in a hard-hitting speech in battleground Michigan with 18 days to go until the election. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

When asked the question slightly differently, whether they approve or disapprove of the job Whitmer is doing as governor, the approval rating actually ticks up slightly to 50.8 percent net approval—with 33.6 percent strongly approving and 17.2 percent somewhat approving. Seven percent somewhat disapprove and 40.9 percent strongly disapprove of Whitmer’s performance in the job of governor of Michigan, for a total of 47.9 percent net disapproval, while 1.2 percent said they have no opinion.

Yob noted, too, that the trend against Whitmer in Michigan among general election likely voters is something other surveys, including recent polling from the Detroit News newspaper, shows as well. In that polling, she has fallen more than double digits in her approval rating since last September—a complete crash in just a year.

“The Strategic National polling is very similar to the Detroit News polling that showed Governor Whitmer’s approval tanking since their previous survey,” Yob said. “The Michigan Governor’s race is now a tossup between Governor Whitmer and Republican conservative Chief James Craig as the Republicans prepare to gather on Mackinac Island this weekend.”

Interestingly, the survey also shows both Democrat President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, a Republican, with net negative approval ratings. Fifty-one percent total of survey respondents, 5.2 percent somewhat and 45.8 percent very, say they view Biden unfavorably, while 47.9 percent total—31.7 percent very and 16.2 percent somewhat—view Biden favorably and 1.1 percent have no opinion. Trump’s unfavorable net number is slightly higher at 51.9 percent net—48.5 percent very and 3.4 percent somewhat—viewing him unfavorably. Conversely, Trump’s positive rating is net 47 percent even—with 31.7 percent saying they view him very favorably and 15.3 percent saying they view him somewhat favorably.

MI Statewide Primary Toplines by Breitbart News on Scribd

The primary poll is even better news for Craig. That survey, also of 400 likely voters but in the primary, also conducted Sept. 18 to Sept. 19, finds Craig towering over the rest of the GOP field, with 39.7 percent of respondents saying they would back him, while other contenders lag far behind. Garrett Soldano, a Kalamazoo chiropractor, comes in a distant second place in the survey at just 9.9 percent, while Dixon comes in an even further distant third place at just 1.3 percent, and self-funding Detroit businessman Kevin Rinke falls even further back at just 0.1 percent. Forty-nine percent of survey respondents in the GOP primary survey are undecided, so there is still time for the others to try to catch up to Craig but his early dominance seems unflappable. The primary poll has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who was recently cleared to return to work after fighting his own COVID-19 diagnosis, addresses the media during Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s daily press briefing on the coronavirus, Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Both the general election and primary surveys from Strategic National showed leftist agitators at Craig’s campaign announcement seem to shore up his position in both races as well.

In the general election survey, respondents were asked this question: “As you may have heard, James Craig announced his run for Governor in Detroit this week, but as he tried to give a speech, protestors stormed the podium shouting and disrupted the event. Did the leftists storming the podium make you more or less likely to vote for James Craig for Governor?”

James Craig, a former Detroit Police Chief, announces he is a Republican candidate for Governor of Michigan amongst protesters on Belle Isle in Detroit, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

In response, 29.9 percent said it made them much more likely to back Craig and 7.3 percent said it made them somewhat more likely to back him, while 3.6 percent said it made them somewhat less likely to back him, nine percent said it made them much less likely to back him, and 50.1 percent said it made no change for them on this. In other words, 37.2 percent said the leftists targeting Craig’s announcement made it much or somewhat more likely they would back him in the general election, while 12.6 percent said those leftists’ actions made it much more or somewhat less likely they’d back him, and just over 50 percent said it made no change in their opinion.

Primary poll respondents were asked the same question—and 69.9 percent said it made them either much more, 55.4 percent, or somewhat more, 14.5 percent, likely to vote for Craig in the primary next year. Only 1.3 percent said it made them slightly less likely to vote for him, and 28.8 percent said it made no change in their decision.

What’s more, 30.8 percent of general election survey respondents said they believed Whitmer ordered the state police and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to “stand down” when the leftist protesters targeted his campaign launch at Belle Isle, an island state park in the middle of the Detroit River. While 38.5 percent said they did not think Whitmer ordered them to stand down, 30.7 percent said they were unsure.

Again, primary respondents were asked that same question, and 54.1 answered yes, while just 8.3 percent answered no, and 37.6 percent were unsure.

“The protesters disruption of Chief Craig’s announcement last week was a grand slam home run for the campaign,” Yob told Breitbart News. “The disruption received significant media both nationally and in Michigan as the videos of violent protesters putting fists in Chief Craig’s face went viral. Republican primary voters and activists were inspired to leave other primary opponents and join the Chief’s team as evidenced by their collapse in primary polling. The Chief jumped six points in primary polling, nine points in name identification, and multiple points in the General Election.”

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