LANSING – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer remains a popular leader, but her support has slipped over the last several months in what a pollster believes is a reflection of public frustration over the coronavirus pandemic, nearing its one-year anniversary in Michigan.
In a new poll from EPIC-MRA of Lansing, 52% gave Whitmer a positive job approval rating and 47% gave her a negative rating. Also, 49% said they had a favorable opinion of Whitmer, while 44% said they had an unfavorable opinion of her. Another 7% were undecided or refused to say
More than half — 55% — said the state of the pandemic has improved over the past couple of months, while 35% said it has remained the same and 7% said it has gotten worse.
Whitmer’s numbers have gone down since September, when Whitmer received a positive job approval rating of 56% of those surveyed and a negative job approval rating from 44%. Also in September, Whitmer’s favorability ratings were 56% positive to 41% negative, with 3% undecided or refusing to sday.
“She has slipped in terms of her favorability,” said Bernie Porn, president of EPIC-MRA. “Also, it is unusual that job rating is higher than favorability. That all can be related, I think, to frustration with COVID.”
No governor in recent history has had to deal with the type of all-encompassing crisis Whitmer has, and “you still have a majority saying she is doing a good job as governor,” he said.
The poll of 600 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was conducted by live interviewers between Feb. 19 and 25 and included 50% cellphone users.
Porn said the view that the pandemic is improving, or going away, could relate to increased frustration over a lack of normalcy in terms of ability to patronize bars and restaurants and participate in sports. He said a recent controversy in New York over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of coronavirus cases in nursing homes could also be a factor, since Republicans have raised similar concerns about Whitmer’s nursing home policies.
The poll showed Whitmer in a virtual dead heat with former GOP congresswoman and secretary of state Candice Miller, in a theoretical matchup for governor. The poll found 46% would support Whitmer and 45% would support Miller, while 9% were undecided or refused to say.
Miller, who is public works commissioner in Macomb County, said in July she will not be a candidate for governor in 2022.
Porn said he tested Miller against Whitmer because she is considered the strongest potential GOP gubernatorial candidate among names that have been put forward to date. The numbers for a Whitmer-Miller matchup should cause the governor some concern, Porn said, though Whitmer holds a larger edge over Miller, 42% to 38%, when only voters holding a clear preference are considered.
On the Michigan economy, 69% gave it a negative rating, while just 26% gave it a positive rating.
That is a significant change from July when just 51% gave the Michigan economy a negative raring, while 41% gave it a positive one.
Of those surveyed, 45% described themselves as Democrats, 41% of Republicans, and 11% as Independents.