A statewide poll in Michigan taken last week by Lambert, Edwards & Associates (LE&A) and Denno Research shows that a majority of Detroit voters might be again ready for a white mayor, but statewide voters think the possibility is less likely.
Detroit’s last white mayor – Roman Gribbs – served from 1970 to 1974, declining to run for a second term. Gribbs was replaced by city voters in 1974 by Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, who became the city’s first African American leader.
The survey, conducted June 14-15, asked 600 likely voters statewide if Detroiters would vote for a white mayoral candidate, given the opportunity. Overarchingly, almost 40 percent of statewide respondents said no, 22 percent said yes, while 39 percent said they were unsure.
But, a closer look at the data tells a different story in the city of Detroit, as nearly 50 percent of residents said they would vote for a white candidate for mayor, 25 percent said they wouldn’t, and 25 percent were unsure.
"By a 2 to 1 margin, Detroiters are open to the idea of a white mayoral candidate," said Jeff Lambert, President and Managing Partner of LE&A. "Statewide, individuals are less open to the idea, but ultimately, they won’t be the ones casting the votes. I think if an organized campaign promoting a highly qualified white candidate captured the attention of Detroit voters, he or she might have a shot at it."
Additionally, 43 percent of African Americans statewide in the survey said they thought Detroiters would vote for a white candidate, while 36 percent of African Americans thought Detroiters would not. Only 19 percent of whites thought Detroiters would vote for a white candidate and 40 percent thought they would not.
"Interestingly, when you step across the Detroit city border and ask people this questions who live right on the other side of it, they tell a different story, too," said Dennis Denno, CEO of Denno Research. "Our poll shows that 56 percent of Macomb and Oakland county voters thought Detroiters would not vote for White mayor, while only 20 percent of Macomb and 15 percent of Oakland county residents thought they would. Obviously, there’s a disconnect on this issue in southeast Michigan."
The LE&A/Denno Research poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.