(The Center Square) – Results of a new poll indicate a majority of Michigan residents are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, and an increasing number are displeased with the job performance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The Michigan Poll from Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group, released Tuesday, concludes that 52% of respondents believe the country is on the wrong track compared to 36% that said otherwise. Six months ago, the results were 66% wrong track and 25% right direction.
Among other results reported by the MRG poll, Whitmer’s job approval rating dropped five percentage points since September. At that time, 58% approved of the governor’s performance.
Forty-seven percent of surveyed respondents believe Michigan is on the wrong track, compared to 44% who believe Michigan is headed in the right direction. MRG says the margin of error for the poll is +/- 4 percentage points.
The drop in the governor’s approval was attributed in part to her handling of the resignation of former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Robert Gordon in January, and the revelation he signed a confidentiality agreement with the governor’s administration while at the same time receiving a taxpayer-funded buyout of $155,506. Only 11% of those polled responded they agreed with the governor, while 72.4% responded they disagreed with the deal.
The governor’s approval rating was also negatively impacted by her decision to place COVID-19 positive patients in the state’s long-term residential facilities. The governor has not released complete data on nursing home fatalities from COVID-19, but more than 5,500 deaths attributed to COVID-19 occurred in nursing homes. Of those polled, 61.3% disapproved of Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19 patients in nursing homes, and only 21.8% approved.
Coronavirus dominated the list of top issues with 40% of respondents listing it as number one. The economy and jobs came in second at 21%, and politicians/government topped out the top three at 13%.
All told, 47% of respondents reported a positive feeling toward the governor and 42% have a negative feeling, compared to the last fall’s Michigan Poll that showed positive feelings for Whitmer at 50% and negative feelings for her at 40%.
“Public pressure has been mounting on Governor Whitmer over the past few months, and voters are taking notice,” MRG owner Jenell Leonard said in a statement. “Not much has changed in voters’ sentiment about the direction of the state, but they seem to be watching the policies and action of the Governor more closely and judging accordingly.”
Leonard continued: “While numbers have improved on the national level, voters are still not happy with the overall direction of the country. “COVID-19, jobs and the economy continue to be the most important issues and how leaders are addressing these issues, are shaping their outlook.”
Whitmer garnered her highest job approval rating in Detroit, Wayne County, and mid-Michigan. Those respondents expressing the highest negative job approvals resided in Northern Lower Michigan, Macomb County, and the Upper Peninsula.
"Michiganders overwhelmingly oppose Gov. Whitmer's taxpayer-funded hush money payment to the former health director as well as her handling of nursing homes where at least 5,500 seniors have died," Tori Sachs, executive director of Michigan Rising Action, told The Center Square. "Whitmer should immediately disclose why this shady financial arrangement with the person who directed shutdowns and oversaw nursing home policies was made and what they are trying to cover-up."
The MRG poll reported 43.9% of respondents identified as Democrats, 13% identified as Independent, and 39.8% identified as Republican. Of those, 42.1% placed themselves on the conservative spectrum, 28.9% said they were moderate, and 23.2% said they were either somewhat or very liberal.
The poll also featured questions on the performance of President Joseph Biden during the first two months of his administration. Fifty percent reported they approved of Biden’s performance, and 41% said they disapproved.