Republicans are heading toward what could be a very good Election Day for them, according to an EPIC-MRA poll released Thursday.
The poll shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder leading Democratic Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero 55 percent to 37 percent, with 4 percent backing one of three third-party candidates in the race and 4 percent undecided.
Snyder, a wealthy Ann Arbor businessman, has had a huge financial advantage over Bernero. He has given his campaign $6.1 million and raised $5.5 million from other sources during the primary and general election campaigns, and used that money to run a series of television ads selling himself as "one tough nerd" more interested in progress than politics.
Bernero has raised only $1.8 million in private funds since kicking off his campaign and collected $1.1 million in public matching funds. Although he has been helped by ads run by Democratic groups, he has been largely on the defensive throughout the general election campaign as the Republican Governors Association poured money into negative ads on Snyder's behalf.
Snyder continues to be regarded favorably by over half of those surveyed, while 30 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion. Only 35 percent regarded Bernero favorably, with 40 percent saying they saw him in an unfavorable light.
In an Oct. 3-7 EPIC-MRA poll, Snyder was ahead 49 percent to 29 percent, with 4 percent backing third-party candidates and 18 percent undecided. Bernero had a larger jump in the latest poll, but it still left him far behind his rival.
Although Michigan went overwhelmingly for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, 43 percent of Michigan voters said they consider themselves Republicans while 39 percent consider themselves Democrats, according to Thursday's poll. Seventeen percent said they were independents. Four years ago, an EPIC-MRA poll had the numbers at 43 percent Democrat, 39 percent Republican, one reason Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm won a second term.
But neither Obama nor Granholm are all that popular these days. Only 46 percent currently have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 50 percent look on him unfavorably. Thirty-five percent have a favorable opinion of Granholm, leaving office at the end of this year because of term limits, while 57 percent have an unfavorable opinion.
The poll was conducted Saturday through Tuesday and surveyed 600 likely voters statewide with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The survey showed that over half of voters don't recognized the names of secretary of state candidates Ruth Johnson, the Republican Oakland County clerk, or Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat and Wayne State University law professor. In the poll, 44 percent favored Johnson, while 36 percent said they'd vote for Benson, with 6 percent choosing a third-party candidate. Fourteen percent remained undecided.
Republican attorney general candidate Bill Schuette, a former Court of Appeals judge and longtime public official, was better known than his Democratic opponent, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. Fifty-seven percent didn't recognize Leyton's name, while 42 percent didn't recognize Schuette's.
That gap in name recognition is apparently helping Schuette. Forty-seven percent said they'd vote for him, compared with 37 percent who backed Leyton. Five percent said they'd prefer a third-party candidate and 11 percent were undecided.
In the Supreme Court race, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Mary Beth Kelly and Justice Bob Young, both GOP nominees, are leading the field of five candidates running for two seats. But the largest share of voters -- 37 percent -- are undecided.
Twenty-four percent said they'd back Kelly, while 20 percent said they'd back Young. Among the Democratic nominees, Justice Alton Thomas Davis is backed by 10 percent, while Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris is supported by 7 percent. Attorney Bob Roddis got 2 percent.
Voters apparently aren't in the mood for a convention to write a new state constitution. Fifty-seven percent said they'd vote against the proposal on next Tuesday's ballot and 31 percent supported it. Twelve percent were undecided.
A second ballot proposal that would give Michigan voters the chance to decide if disgraced public officials such as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick should be banned from holding office by amending the state constitution has the support of 76 percent of voters, compared with 19 percent who oppose it and 5 percent who are undecided.