Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) holds a nearly ten-point lead over her closest Republican competitor, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, in Michigan’s 2022 race for governor, according to a poll published Tuesday.
The poll, conducted on behalf of WDIV and the Detroit News from January 3 to 7, found that in a hypothetical gubernatorial matchup against Craig, Whitmer leads by 9.5 percent, garnering 48.6 percent support compared to Craig’s 39.1 percent. Undecided voters account for 11.7 percent.
While Whitmer enjoys an almost double-digit lead in that matchup, and even greater leads in hypothetical matchups against other Republican candidates, poll respondents did not overwhelmingly support the Democrat governor when she became the only option.
Asked if respondents would vote to reelect Whitmer or “someone new,” a plurality, or 41.1 percent, opted for someone new, while 39.9 percent said they would reelect Whitmer. Another 12.2 percent said their vote would depend on who is running against Whitmer.
The poll also revealed that Whitmer’s approval rating has seen a spike, which WDIV credits to independent voters shifting 45 points in favor of Whitmer’s job performance. Whitmer’s overall approval numbers, showing 56.2 percent approve and 39.6 percent disapprove of the governor, contrast with her declining ratings among voters last year. Multiple polls conducted in 2021 while Whitmer’s restrictive coronavirus measures were in place — measures that drew heavy criticism from Republicans — showed Whitmer’s approval sagging when compared with earlier versions of the same polls.
While the poll provides an early grain of optimism for Whitmer, her gubernatorial race is expected to become a highly competitive toss-up election. Cook Political Report recently established as much in a December race ratings report in which it shifted the Michigan election from “lean D” to “toss up.”
We shifted a total of 11 Governors races this week @CookPolitical — 8 toward Rs, 3 toward Ds.
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) December 3, 2021
The poll also surveyed respondents to gauge their name recognition of the more than ten Republican candidates hoping to challenge Whitmer. Craig led, with about 45 percent of respondents recognizing his name, followed by businessman Kevin Rinke and chiropractor Garrett Soldano at about 20 percent name recognition each. Conservative media personality Tudor Dixon came in fourth with about 14 percent of respondents recognizing her name.
The Republican primary takes place August 2.
The poll was conducted by the Glengariff Group, Inc., via telephone among 600 likely general election voters and had a margin of error of +/- four percent.