The race for Michigan governor is a little more a year away. But if it were held today, two of Michigan’s least known public figures would beat the best known potential candidate.
In a head-to-head match-up, flamboyant Democratic Defense Attorney Geoffrey Fieger trails two-term Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette by 10 points.
But in a political contest with Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, the former majority leader of the Michigan Senate, Republican Schuette runs dead even with Whitmer, 37% - 37%.
However, nearly one-quarter of the voters are undecided, so there is still plenty of wiggle room for the numbers to change.
That’s the result of an exclusive new EPIC MRA poll released first to WXYZ-TV/Detroit Free Press and our media polling partners in Grand Rapids, Flint and Lansing.
Forty percent of the likely Michigan voters, who are familiar with Fieger, have an unfavorable opinion of him. Only 27% have a favorable impression of the man who ran for the state’s highest elective office against Gov. John Engler in 1998 and lost badly, 62% - 38%.
Fieger put nearly $6 million of his own personal fortune into that race.
Only 9% of the 600 people surveyed don’t recognize Fieger’s name. That’s a far cry from 57% of Michiganders who don’t know who Whitmer is, 48% who don’t recognize Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s name and 24% who don’t have a clue who Schuette is.
Bernie Porn, President of EPIC MRA, summed up the early contest this way. “Fieger has high unfavorables, is too controversial and is perceived personality-wise like Trump. Schuette is running above his GOP base, 43% - 38%, and even though people don’t know who Whitmer is, she’s running even with Schuette. With advertising, Whitmer and Schuette should be able to get well known.”
The statewide survey also showed that incumbent Governor Rick Snyder is pretty much holding steady with his job performance and favorability numbers.
Voters like him more than President Trump, 48% say Michigan is headed in the “right direction,” 37% voted “wrong direction,” and 15% can’t decide.
The biggest number in Snyder’s favor is that 64% of the respondents surveyed believe the state’s economy is now improving.
The poll was conducted August 27- September 1 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.0%.
Thirty percent of people who participated in the questionnaire did it on their mobile phones.
Read the complete poll results below:
How about in Michigan -- would you say that things in Michigan are generally headed in the right direction, or, have things pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?
Right direction – 48%
Wrong track – 37%
Undecided/Refused – 15%
Now, I would like to read the names of several political figures. For each one, please tell me if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person.
Favorable – 42%
Unfavorable – 45%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 14%
Do not recognize – 24%
Favorable – 26%
Unfavorable – 18%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 32%
Do not recognize – 48%
Favorable – 16%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 29%
Do not recognize – 57%
Favorable – 12%
Unfavorable – 6%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 25%
Do not recognize – 9%
Favorable – 27%
Unfavorable – 40%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 24%
Overall, how would you rate the job that Rick Snyder is doing as Michigan’s Governor – would you give him a positive rating of excellent or pretty good, or a negative rating of just fair or poor?
Positive – 41%
Negative – 57%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 3%
Thinking about the economy in Michigan, do you believe Michigan’s economy…
Is now improving – 64%
Has bottomed out but has not yet started to improve – 18%
Has not yet bottomed out and will still get worse – 10%
Undecided/Refused – 8%
Thinking about the November general election in 2018…
If the candidates for Governor were Gretchen Whitmer and Bill Schuette, would you vote for Bill Schuette the Republican or Gretchen Whitmer the Democrat?
Schuette – 37%
Whitmer – 37%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 26%
If the candidates for Governor were Geoffrey Fieger and Bill Schuette, would you vote for Bill Schuette the Republican or Geoffrey Fieger the Democrat?
Schuette – 43%
Fieger – 33%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 24%
Finally, I would like to ask you a few questions about yourself for statistical purposes.
Democrat – 42%
Independent – 14%
Republican – 38%
Undecided/Refused to answer – 5%