Just 40 percent of Michiganders would vote to reelect Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer, according to a new poll.
Forty-two percent of likely voters said they would back another candidate, and 12 percent said their decision depends on who runs against the governor, according to a Detroit News/WDIV poll. And while 56 percent said they approve of Whitmer's job performance, 48 percent of respondents said the state is on the "wrong track," compared with 36 percent who said it is on the "right track."
The survey results present a mixed bag for Whitmer, who is seeking reelection in 2022. The Michigan GOP said the poll shows the Democratic governor is in a "dead heat" with Republicans.
"While Whitmer is ridin' with Biden playing national politics, this poll clearly shows she's about to get a reality check here at home, where in a dead heat, a plurality of voters would pick someone else to be governor," Republican communications director Gustavo Portela said in a statement.
Whitmer's approval rating increased 6 points since November, when it dropped to 48 percent. Richard Czuba, president of the Michigan-based Glengariff Group, which conducted the poll, said Whitmer's recent shift to the middle on COVID policy helps explain her rise in popularity. The pollster believes, however, that the "race is going to tighten and be close because of the national environment."
The Whitmer campaign "can't make this assumption that they're going to just coast," Czuba told the News.
Whitmer faced widespread criticism early in the pandemic for her COVID restrictions, which shuttered "nonessential" businesses and restricted travel within the state. Amid the latest spike in cases, Whitmer has forgone statewide vaccine mandates—a policy President Joe Biden has promoted through executive order. Biden's approval rating among Michigan voters is 43 percent, according to the poll.