New poll shows what Michigan voters think about Whitmer, Trump impeachment, 2020 election


A new poll offers insight into what Michigan voters are feeling heading into the 2020 election cycle.

A WDIV/Detroit News poll released this week looks at a range of topics, including Gov. Whitmer's job approval, President Trump's approval, including on views on impeachment proceedings and trade, as well as on abortion laws moving through the Michigan Legislature. Here's a deeper dive into results:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's approval

Whitmer’s job approval has increased substantially to 50.7 percent approve and 23.7 percent disapprove. 23.3 percent of voters neither approve, nor disapprove of her performance. 

  • Only Strong Republican voters disapprove of Whitmer’s job performance.

In Jan. 2019, Whitmer started with job approval of 38 percent approve to 13 percent disapprove. Her job approval has grown by nearly thirteen points, with a better than 2-1 margin of approval to disapproval.   

  • Voters in outside of Metro Detroit approve of the Governor by a margin of 53.5 percent-27.6 percent.
  • Voters in Metro Detroit approve of the Governor by a margin of 48.9 percent-19.9 percent.
  • Voters over the age of 65 give Governor Whitmer a job approval of 60.7 percent-23.7 percent.

President Trump's approval, impeachment, China trade

Approval unchanged

By a margin of 36.7 percent-53.7 percent, Michigan voters have an unfavorable impression of Donald Trump. President Trump’s favorable/unfavorable has been stuck in cement dating back to January 2018.

Much like his favorable/unfavorable, President Trump’s job approval has been stuck in cement for the past two years with 44.3 percent approving of his performance and 52.0 percent disapproving of his performance.   

  • While 26.8 percent of voters strongly approve of President Trump’s performance, 42.7 percent of voters strongly disapprove of President Trump’s performance.   
  • White voters are narrowly supportive of President Trump’s performance by a margin of 50.6 percent-46.0 percent.  
  • Black voters strongly disapprove of President Trump’s performance 8.2 percent-87.0 percent.   
  • Men approve of President Trump’s performance by a margin of 50.0 percent - 45.8 percent.  
  • Women disapprove of President Trump’s performance by a margin of 39.1 percent-57.7 percent.

President Trump’s highest levels of approval continue to be among men without a college education culminating in a 63.4 percent job approval rating among men with some post high school education but not a college degree. Women, regardless of education, continue to strongly disapprove of his job performance.

Obstruction, impeachment hearings

Michigan voters are narrowly split with 43.0 percent believing Donald Trump did obstruct justice while 41.5 percent believe he did not obstruct justice. 15.0 percent of voters do not know.

Men and women are diametrically opposed on the obstruction of justice issue:

  • Men believe he did not obstruct justice by a margin of 39.2 percent-46.5 percent.
  • Women believe he did obstruct justice by a margin of 46.5 percent-36.9 percent.   
  • Independent voters are split on the issue at 36.3 percent obstructed vs. 40.7 percent no obstruction, with 21.2 percent undecided.

But by a margin of 39.6 percent-52.8 percent, Michigan voters oppose the House of Representatives beginning impeachment hearings against President Trump.

  • While 27.3 percent of voters strongly support beginning impeachment hearings, 41.0 percent of voters strongly oppose hearings.   
  • By a margin of 31.9 percent-59.3 percent, Independent voters oppose beginning impeachment hearings.

China trade policy

By a margin of 25.8 percent-46.8 percent, Michigan voters strongly believe President Trump’s trade strategy with China is bad for Michigan. 9.8 percent of voters believe the policy is having no effect on Michigan. 17.3 percent of voters do not know.   

Michigan voters strongly oppose proposed abortion law

Voters were asked if they support or oppose legislation being considered in the State Legislature that would ban a commonly used abortion procedure in Michigan during the second trimester and charge doctors who use the procedure with a two-year criminal sentence.  

By a margin of 30.7 percent-57.7 percent, Michigan voters oppose the proposed law. 49.5 percent of voters STRONGLY OPPOSE the proposed law.  

2020 election preview, Democrats vs. Trump in Michigan

Trump re-election

Voters were asked if they would vote to re-elect President Trump or vote for someone else. 51.2 percent of voters would vote to elect someone new with 44.2 percent of voters DEFINITELY VOTING FOR SOMEONE NEW.  

35.7 percent of voters would vote to re-elect President Trump with 27.0 percent DEFINITELY VOTING TO RE-ELECT PRESIDENT TRUMP.

  • Voters that would re-elect President Trump have increased by 5.1 percent from January 2019. Those that would vote for someone new has remained statistically unchanged since January 2019.
  • Among Independent voters, 23.9 percent would vote to re-elect President Trump while 50.3 percent of Independent voters would elect someone new.
    • Only 13.3 percent of Independents would definitely vote to re-elect the President while 34.4 percent would definitely vote to replace him.

Democrats lead by 8.8 points on generic ballot test

Voters were asked if the election was held today would they vote for the Democratic or the Republican candidate for State House.  

By a margin of 43.5 percent-34.7 percent, voters said they would vote for the Democratic candidate – an 8.8 percent-point lead for the generic Democratic candidate.  

This figure remains consistent with the Democratic margin heading into the 2018 elections.   

Biden leads Democratic candidates in Michigan

Among the top five Democratic contenders polling nationally above 5 percent, Joe Biden is the only candidate with favorable name identification breaking 46.0 percent favorable to 37.2 percent unfavorable. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg rounded out the top five candidates.

While all five candidates have low unfavorable ratings among Strong Democratic voters, Joe Biden has 80 percent approval with the lowest unfavorable ratings among the five candidates.   

  • Only Joe Biden has name identification breaking favorably among Independent voters.   Elizabeth Warren, in particular, appears to have a favorability problem with Independent voters.

All five of the potential Democratic nominees tested currently lead the President. President Trump falls in a very narrow two-point range against all five candidates from 41.3 percent to 43.5 percent.  

Of particular note is that less than 5 percent of voters remain undecided in matchups with Sanders or Biden whose name identification have already ‘topped out’ at near 100 percent.

  • The overall difference in the margins among the five candidates is that Biden and Sanders are each doing better among male voters than Harris, Warren and Buttigieg.   
  • Sanders and Biden are equally strongly among Independent voters. Buttigieg and Warren are statistically even among Independent voters. Harris trails Trump among Independent voters by eight points.   

Biden vs. Sanders

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders both lead Donald Trump by 12.1 percent -- statistically unchanged from January 2019.  But the two candidates get to the same numbers in slightly different, but important, ways.

Biden has a 24.7 percent lead among women while Sanders has a 21.4 percent lead among women. Biden runs better than Sanders among women with a high school degree and women with a college degree.

Among college educated white women, Biden leads Trump 52.3 percent-39.7 percent -- a lead of 12.6 percent. Sanders leads among college educated white women 49.2 percent-42.1 percent -- a lead of 7.1 percent.

While Biden loses to Trump among men by 2.8 percent, Sanders leads among men by 2.4 percent. Sanders does better than Biden among men without a college degree. Biden does better with men with a college degree.

Amash factor

In a hypothetical three-way race, respondents were asked who they would support between Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Justin Amash as the hypothetical Libertarian candidate.  In this matchup, Biden leads by 6.7 percent -- down from a lead of 12.1 percent.   

Poll methodology:

The Glengariff Group, Inc. conducted a Michigan statewide survey of November 2020 likely general election voters. The 600 sample, live operator telephone survey was conducted on May 28-30, 2019 and has a margin of error of +/-4.0 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. 65.0 percent of respondents were contacted via landline telephone. 35.0 percent of respondents were contacted via cell phone telephone. This survey was commissioned by the Glengariff Group, Inc. as part of our public polling program and provided to WDIV Local 4 and the Detroit News.   

View the full polling data document below:

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