Poll: Michigan Gov. Whitmer Has Commanding Lead Over Potential Republican Challengers, but . . .

May 31, 2022, 7:00 PM by  Allan Lengel

Gretchen Whitmer, Tudor Dixon and Ryan Kelley

A poll released Tuesday shows Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with a commanding lead over all GOP candidates. But part of that may be because Republicans are angry that top prospects were bounced from the ballot because of a signature scandal, says the pollster.

Last week, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, Perry Johnson and three others were kicked off the Aug. 2 primary ballot because their petitions allegedly contained fraudulent signatures. That leaves the B-Team.   

"The Republicans are so upset at the loss of their top-tier candidates, they're still punishing the party," says Ed Sarpolus, executive director of Target Insyght of Lansing, who conducted the poll with Michigan Information and Research Service, a Lansing newsletter.

"They're still unwilling to commit to this group. It's up to Gretchen Whitmer to capitalize on it. It's up to the Republicans in the party to repair the damage."

The pre-primary survey doesn't indicate a sure win for Whitmer, Sarpolus adds. "It would be wrong of me as a pollster to say Gretchen is doing a great job right now, she's going to win re-election. No, this poll shows Republicans being upset. Despite Republicans leaning Gretchen, or undecided, they still give Gretchen a negative job rating."

The poll shows 80 percent of the Democrats and 57 percent of the Independents give Whitmer an excellent or good job rating. That compares to only 24 percent of the Republicans. Overall, 54 percent said she was doing an excellent or good job. 

Last week's poll of 600 voters included 43 percent Democrats, 39 percent Republicans and 18 percent Independents. It has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Sarpolus said the situation could shift dramatically in 90 days "because Republican voters finally made peace with the party."

When paired against each Republican candidate in November, the poll shows Whitmer with a big lead.

  • Whitmer v Tudor Dixon: 58 to 21 percent, with 21 percent undecided

  • Whitemer v Ryan Kelley: 57 to 23 percent, with 19 percent undecided

  • Whitmer v Ralph Rebandt: 58 to 19 percent, with 23 percent undecided

  • Whitmer v Kevin Rinke: 58 to 24 percent, with 18 percent undecided

  • Whitmer v Garrett Soldano: 58 to 22 percent, with 20 percent undecided

The poll also shows Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel leading Republican opponent Matt DePerno 54 to 23 percent, with 23 percent undecided. In the race for secretary of state, Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson leads GOP opponent Kristina Karamo 56 to 23 percent, with 22 undecided. 

The poll also shows how voters rate the secretary of state and attorney general on job performance since taking office in 2019.


  • Excellent: 34 percent

  • Good: 18 percent

  • Fair: 13 percent

  • Poor: 17 percent

  • Undecided: 18 percent


  • Excellent: 31 percent

  • Good: 19 percent

  • Fair: 10 percent

  • Poor: 20 percent

  • Undecided: 20 percent

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