Poll: Where Michigan voters stand on governor race 1 month before election

Incumbent Whitmer leads opponent Dixon by 17 points

Democratic incumbent Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (left) and her 2022 Republican opponent Tudor Dixon (right) (WDIV)

DETROIT – Incumbent Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues to poll ahead of her opponent just one month ahead of Election Day, according to a new WDIV/Detroit News poll.

A survey of Michigan voters conducted between Sept. 26-29 found that voters continue to feel motivated to participate in the upcoming midterm elections -- a motivation largely driven by the issues of abortion rights and inflation. The survey also finds that Democratic Gov. Whitmer continues to hold a significant lead over Republican opponent Tudor Dixon, who has a low favorability rating.

More: Poll: Where Michigan voters stand on attorney general, secretary of state races 1 month before election

Here are some of the key findings from this portion of the survey:

Whitmer leading Dixon by 17 points

  • Democratic Gov. Whitmer continues to hold a lead over Republican candidate Dixon, though Whitmer’s numbers are not going up; Dixon’s numbers are going down.
  • Whitmer is currently estimated to win about 49.5% of the vote in November.
  • Whitmer is more popular among voters who identify as “strong Democratic” (95%) and those who lean Democratic (83.3%), but she is also securing 38.3% of the Independent vote, 22.1% of those leaning Republican, as well as 9.5% of voters who identify as “strong Republican.”
  • Dixon’s hold among voters has continued to decline. As of October, the candidate is expected to win about 32.2% of the vote, down from 34.9% in September and 40.3% in July.
  • Dixon is most popular among “strong Republican” voters, securing 79.8% of their vote so far, and is expected to win 55.9% of the vote from those who lean Republican. About 17.7% of Independent voters favor Dixon.
  • Whitmer and Dixon are tied among leaning Republican women.
  • Whitmer continues to lead among women over Dixon by a 2-1 margin, but holds a narrower lead among men (41.7% Whitmer to 38.1% Dixon).
  • Whitmer’s lead over Dixon is much stronger in the Metro Detroit area compared to throughout the rest of the state, where her lead is narrower.

Dixon approval rating

  • Only 17.3% of Michigan voters view Dixon favorably, while 44.7% of voters view her unfavorably.
  • 24.1% of voters have no opinion of Dixon, while 13.1% of voters have never heard of Dixon.
    • 40.5% of strong Republican voters either have no opinion of Dixon, or have never heard of her.
  • Dixon is most unfavorable among strong and leaning Democrats, and most favorable among strong Republicans. Leaning Republicans and Independent voters primarily view Dixon unfavorably, or have no opinion of her.

Whitmer approval rating

  • The incumbent governor has a job approval rating of 54%, unchanged from September’s poll.
  • Whitmer is viewed favorably among Democrats, and largely unfavorably among Republicans. Independent voters are split.
  • Of note, 22.1% of leaning Republicans view Whitmer favorably. In comparison, 81.6% of strong Republican voters view her unfavorably.
  • Whitmer’s job approval has remained consistent all year with few fluctuations.
  • Most voters said that Whitmer’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether they approved of her handling or not, would not really make them more or less likely to vote for her.

Abortion still primary motivating factor

  • Abortion rights continue to be the primary motivating factor behind Michigan voters’ desire to participate in the November election.
  • 35.5% of voters said abortion and women’s rights are issues that would most motivate them to vote in November.
  • 23.6% of voters said inflation and the cost of living would most motivate them, while 10.8% of voters said threats to our democracy would most motivate them. Fewer voters said education, jobs/economy or crime/violence would primarily motivate them.
  • Abortion is a stronger motivating factor among women compared to men.
  • 50% of female voters noted abortion and women’s rights as their primary motivating factor, while only 20.3% of male voters did.
  • Voters who oppose overturning the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade favor Whitmer over Dixon. Among those voters, Whitmer leads Dixon 70.2% to 13.8%.
  • Voters who support overturning Roe v. Wade favor Dixon over Whitmer. Among those voters, Dixon leads Whitmer 71.4% to 10.9%.

Michigan’s economic outlook

  • 36.9% of voters are optimistic about Michigan’s economy, while 38.4% of voters are pessimistic. 22.3% of voters say they feel indifferent about Michigan’s economy.
  • Michigan voters were more optimistic about their individual economic situation than they were about the state’s.
  • 58.1% of voters are optimistic about their economic situation. 18.9% of voters feel pessimistic about their economic situation, and 19.6% of voters feel indifferent.
  • Strong and leaning Democratic voters are more likely to feel optimistic about their personal economic outlook, compared to strong and leaning Republican voters, who were more split among optimistic, pessimistic and indifferent.

Biden/Trump ratings

  • Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump have low favorability ratings among Michigan voters -- numbers that remain largely unchanged in the last month.
  • 53.2% of Michigan voters view Biden unfavorably, while 33.7% of voters view him favorably.
    • 11.6% of voters have “no opinion” of Biden.
  • 52.2% of Michigan voters view Trump unfavorably, while 33.9% view him favorably.
  • 37.6% of Michigan voters said Trump’s endorsement of a candidate would make them less likely to vote for the candidate. 49.8% of voters said Trump’s endorsement wouldn’t matter to them, and 11.3% of voters said Trump’s endorsement would make them more likely to support a candidate.

Methodology

The Glengariff Group, Inc. conducted a Michigan statewide survey of November 2022 likely general election voters. The 600 sample, live operator telephone survey was conducted on September 26-29, 2022 and has a margin of error of +/-4.0% with a 95% level of confidence. 25.9% of respondents were contacted via landline telephone. 74.1% of respondents were contacted via cell phone telephone. This survey was commissioned by WDIV Local 4 News and the Detroit News.


See the poll results from September right here to compare.


About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.