Michigan Poll Shows Strong Support for Rashida Tlaib, but Not Shri Thanedar

January 24, 2022, 12:06 AM by  Allan Lengel

Top, from left: Rashida Tlaib, Phil Cavanagh, Ralph Godbee
Bottom: Shri Thanedar, Janice Winfrey, Michael Griffie 

With just over six months until the Aug. 2 Democratic primary, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib leads overwhelmingly in a poll of likely voters in the new 12th Congressional District with 62 percent support.

The poll by Target Insyght of Lansing, and released Sunday night, compares Tlaib with other potential Democratic candidates who have yet to announce:

Westland Mayor William Wild garnered 13 percent support; Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett, 6 percent; Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, 4 percent; and Livonia Mayor Maureen Miller Bronsan, 2 percent.

Besides Tlaib, two others have announced their candidacy -- former state lawmaker Phil Cavanagh, son of the late Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, who garnered only 3 percent, and ex-state Rep. Shannelle Jackson, who had less than 1 percent. Ten percent are undecided. 

The poll is a joint project between Target Insyght and the Michigan Democratic Black Caucus. The error margin is plus or minus 4 percentage points. 

The redrawn 12th District includes Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Livonia, Westland, Redford and parts of the west side of Detroit. 

13th District Contenders

Meanwhile, in the the 13th Congressional District, Democratic state Rep. Shri Thanedar -- who previously ran unsuccessfully for governor and has vowed to spend millions of his money -- got only 7 percent support in the survey. The revised district covers Detroit, the Grosse Pointes, Harper Woods, Highland Park, Hamtramck, most of Downriver, including Romulus and Taylor, and the southern portion of Dearborn Heights. 

Several other Democrats who have yet to announce their candidacy, but have been mentioned as possibilities, fared far better than Thanedar. Past Detroit Councilwoman Sharon McPhail leads the 13th District poll with 25 percent, followed by former Congressman Hansen Clarke at 23 percent.

Those who have already announced they plan to run include Detroit Schoool Board member and ex-state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, who got 11 percent, followed by state Sen. Adam Hollier with 5 percent, attorney Michael Griffie with 4 percent and former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee with 1 percent.

Focus: HOPE Director Portia Roberson, mentioned as a possible candidate, got 7 percent, the same as Thanedar. Sixteen percent are undecided. 

Tlaib, who currently holds the 13th Congressional District seat, announced she was running in the 12th Congressional District after Michigan’s independent redistricting commission redrew the boundaries. Rep. Debbie Dingell, who currently represents the 12th District, will run in the new 6th Congressional District, which includes Ann Arbor. 

Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, is running for a third term in Congress and is member of "The Squad," a progressive group of congresswomen who've been the target of criticism from the far right, but also among some moderates in her own party. She holds the seat held for decades by the late John Conyers.

Tlaib's Black Strength

Tlaib fared well among Black voters in the poll, with 72 percent support and 56 percent among whites. That compared with Detroit City Clerk Winfrey, who is Black and only had 5 percent support of the Black voters from 600 people included in the poll of different races and ethnicities.  

"It's surprising that Rashida Tlaib is doing far better than Janet Winfrey among Black voters," said Ed Sarpolus, founder of Target Insyght, who conducted the poll. 

He also noted that that Thanedar has spent millions in the race for governor and in his successful bid for state represenative in Detroit. Still, the poll shows he only had 2 percent support among Black voters in the poll, and 6 percent among whites.

"He has spent millions of dollars to run against Gretchen Whitmer and a good amount in the city of Detroit for state representative," Sarpolus said. "The poll shows he has not had a good return on his money."

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