Poll: Amidst pandemic, racial division, and dam break, Michiganders give Governor good marks

Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaking during a news briefing Friday, June 5, 2020.

Despite a pandemic that prompted “stay home” orders, a 500 year flood that that caused a dam to break and wipe out a couple of communities, and police brutality protests that in some cities gave way to violence, most Michiganders seem to like Gretchen Whitmer and the job she’s doing as governor.

That’s according to new poll numbers that judged her performance.

While most of those polled think the nation is on the “wrong track” (63%), slightly more people than not think Michigan is headed in the “right direction” (47% to 45%).

When asked to rate the job she’s doing as governor, 55% of those surveyed gave her a positive rating, while 43% gave her a negative rating.

And when asked to judge her performance handling the Coronavirus crisis, she did even better. Three out of five people (60%) gave her a positive rating, while two out of five (40%) gave her negative one.

The numbers come despite large protests in April and May over orders to stay home, close businesses, and wear masks. The orders, which she made to protect public health in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, put more than a million Michiganders out of work. They also prompted lawsuits by businesses, outside interest groups, and Republicans in the Michigan legislature.

The people polled also realize the toll the pandemic has taken on the economy. While slightly more people than not think Michigan is headed in the “right direction”, only a third of those asked (33%) thought the jobs and economic situation in Michigan was positive, while 61% thought it was negative.

Governor Whitmer also had to handle a disaster after dam gave way in Midland County on May 19th, flooding several communities there and prompting her to declare a state of emergency.

The poll also took place in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police. His death, which was recorded by passersby, prompted protests against police brutality in Michigan and across the nation. Many of those protests, including ones in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing, turned violent.

Despite the challenges, a majority of those asked also give Whitmer strong favorability ratings. Her overall favorability (57%) is much higher than her unfavorability (39%). She also bested four people the poll rated, including former Vice President Joe Biden (50%), Senator Gary Peters (45%), President Donald Trump (41%), and Republican Senate candidate John James (31%).

The poll, conducted by the firm EPIC MRA, sampled 600 people between May 30th and June 3rd and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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