In the months leading up to Michigan's Nov. 6 elections, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer appears to be outpacing the two leading Republican rivals, according to the latest results from Michigan State University's State of the State Survey.
Michigan adults are also in favor of two ballot issues -- one calling for a citizens panel rather than the Michigan Legislature to set legislative districts and the other legalizing recreational marijuana.
In a race between Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, 42 percent of Michigan adults responding to the survey favored the former state senator and 34 percent said they preferred Calley. In a match with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, the survey showed that 41 percent favored Whitmer, compared to 35 percent for Schuette.
However, in both cases, 24 percent of those responding said they were undecided, said State of the State Director Charles Ballard, an MSU economics professor.
“Although our survey shows Gretchen Whitmer in the lead against either Brian Calley or Bill Schuette, her leads are not very large," he said. "With lots of people undecided, and with months to go before the election, the governor’s race is far from over. Much will depend on which campaign does the best job of getting out its message and its voters."
In the race with Calley, Whitmer leads among women by 49 percent to 28 percent. Whitmer has a narrower lead among women in the race with Schuette, with 44 percent of women favoring Whitmer, versus 32 percent for Schuette. Men were about equally divided between Whitmer and either Calley or Schuette.
Survey interviewers called 963 people between Sept. 14, 2017 to Jan. 18, 2018. The margin of error is ±3.16 percent.
When asked about legalizing recreational marijuana, 61 percent of those answering the telephone and cellphone survey were in favor of the ballot question. Just five percent were undecided.
"Since the marijuana initiative has a large lead with relatively few undecideds, it appears likely that it will pass,” Ballard said.The question drew 30 percent support from respondents aged 65 and older, 62 percent from those ages 30 to 64 and 80 percent support from people under the age of 30.
More than half, 53 percent, of those answering SOSS questions supported the proposal for a citizen commission -- of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independents -- to draw legislative district boundaries. Another 27 percent opposed the plan and 20 percent were undecided. The largest support for the ballot question came from those between the ages of 18 and 29, Ballard said.
Legislative boundaries were last drawn in 2011 when Republicans controlled the Legislature. “Thus it’s not surprising that Democrats are more favorable toward this initiative than Republicans, with 62 percent of Democrats in favor,” Ballard said. “However, even Republicans tended to support the move away from gerrymandering, with 45 percent in favor, and 33 percent opposed.”
The State of the State Survey is the only survey conducted in Michigan designed to systematically monitor the public mood on important issues statewide. The survey has been conducted since 1994 by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. IPPSR is a unit of MSU’s College of Social Science.