Donald Trump holds a commanding 50-point lead over Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley among Republican primary voters in Michigan, most of whom believe Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election and say he “did nothing wrong” in his response, according to a Washington Post-Monmouth University poll.
Almost 8 in 10 Democratic primary voters support President Biden for their party’s nomination, although Democrats are much less enthusiastic about Biden than Republicans are about Trump.
The Post-Monmouth poll finds 63 percent of potential Republican primary voters in Michigan support former president Trump for the party’s nomination, compared with 13 percent who support former U.N. ambassador Haley and 13 percent who back DeSantis, Florida’s governor. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie stands at 5 percent while entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has 3 percent support. A 71 percent majority say Trump would be their first or second choice for the nomination, followed by DeSantis at 42 percent and Haley at 29 percent.
Trump’s Michigan support is on par with national polls but higher than in other states with early primaries or caucuses. Trump stood at 51 percent in a Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa poll released this week and 46 percent in Post-Monmouth polls of Republican voters in New Hampshire last month and South Carolina in September.
For the past three years, the Michigan Republican Party has been a cauldron of election denialism, and one factor behind Trump’s stronger standing in Michigan is broader acceptance of his false claims of voter fraud in 2020. Almost 2 in 3 (64 percent) Michigan Republican voters say Biden won the 2020 election only because of voter fraud, compared with 55 percent of GOP voters in New Hampshire and 57 percent in South Carolina.
Of those Michigan Republicans who believe voter fraud claims, 81 percent support Trump for the nomination, compared with 25 percent support among voters who say “Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square.” Among those Republicans who do not believe Trump’s false claims, Haley leads with 35 percent support, the only subgroup in the poll in which Trump doesn’t have an advantage.
Asked about Trump’s actions after the 2020 election, 53 percent say he did nothing wrong, 32 percent say he did something wrong but that it was not criminal and 11 percent say they believe he committed a crime. The former president has been indicted by a federal grand jury and by a Georgia grand jury over efforts to subvert the results of the election.
Trump’s dominant advantage in Michigan underscores the importance for his challengers to perform strongly in other early contests in the hope of preventing a runaway Trump victory.
Michigan’s Feb. 27 primary is one of the last contests before Super Tuesday, when 16 states host Republican primaries or caucuses. But with victories in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump could effectively vanquish his challengers before that. Michigan’s primary was moved up in the calendar this year compared to past election cycles after a Biden-led overhaul of the Democratic nomination schedule.
The Post-Monmouth Michigan poll finds 45 percent of Republican voters saying they will “definitely” vote for Trump in the primary, compared with 37 percent who said this in New Hampshire and 35 percent in South Carolina.
Trump’s support also peaks at about 8 in 10 of voters identifying as “very conservative.” He also leads with about 6 in 10 who are “somewhat conservative” and almost half of moderate-to-liberal Republican primary voters. Haley’s appeal is strongest among moderate and liberal Republican voters at 22 percent, but that is still less than half of Trump’s 47 percent support among that group.
Voters without college degrees have long been Trump’s strongest supporters, and about 7 in 10 voters who do not have college degrees support him in Michigan. Trump also leads among Michigan Republicans who are college graduates, with 43 percent support compared with 25 percent for Haley and 14 percent for DeSantis.
Michigan Republicans are less familiar with Haley and DeSantis than Republicans are in other states with early contests, reflecting the minimal time they have spent campaigning outside of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Haley is both less familiar and less popular in Michigan than in those other states. The poll finds 40 percent of Michigan Republicans are favorable toward Haley while 29 percent are unfavorable, while 31 percent have no opinion or have never heard of her. Half would be “satisfied” or “enthusiastic” with Haley as the nominee, including 12 percent who say they would be enthusiastic.
DeSantis is seen positively by a 2-to-1 margin among Michigan Republicans, 54 percent favorable vs. 26 percent unfavorable, with 20 percent saying that they have no opinion or have never heard of him. A larger 64 percent say they would be at least satisfied with him as the GOP nominee; that includes 17 percent who would be enthusiastic.
Christie is decidedly unpopular among Michigan Republican voters, with 15 percent favorable toward him and 60 percent unfavorable. Ramaswamy draws mixed reviews, with 31 percent favorable, 33 percent unfavorable. The rest say they have no opinion or haven’t heard of him.
Three-quarters of potential Republican primary voters say they have a favorable view of Trump, compared with about 6 in 10 GOP voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina polls this fall. A similar 76 percent of Michigan Republicans would be at least satisfied with Trump as the GOP nominee, including 45 percent who feel enthusiastic.
In the Democratic primary, Biden leads with 79 percent support among potential primary voters compared with 9 percent for author Marianne Williamson and 5 percent for Rep. Dean Phillips (Minn.).
Biden’s challengers are largely unknown to Democrats, with about 7 in 10 saying they have no opinion or haven’t heard of Williamson and about 8 in 10 saying the same of Phillips. Among those who are familiar with them, slightly more are unfavorable than favorable toward Williamson (18 percent vs. 11 percent) while Phillips receives about as many positive as negative reviews (8 percent vs. 10 percent).
Just over 1 in 4 Democrats (27 percent) say they would feel enthusiastic about Biden becoming the party’s nominee, lower than the 45 percent of Republicans who say this about Trump. About twice as many Democrats say they would feel satisfied with Biden, while 19 percent would feel “dissatisfied” or “upset.” Discontent with Biden as the nominee rises to 31 percent among Democratic voters younger than 50 and 29 percent among those who say they are “very liberal.”
Republican and Democratic primary voters report starkly differing views on the economy, foreign policy and recent autoworker strikes, a reflection of how party allegiance often now shapes perceptions of issues and conditions in the country.
A 66 percent majority of Democratic primary voters rate Michigan’s economy as “good” or “excellent,” compared with 13 percent of Republican primary voters. And while 56 percent of Democratic primary voters say the national economy is good, only 9 percent of Republican primary voters say the same.
The partisan gap is smaller but still significant when asked about personal finances: 69 percent of potential Democratic voters rate their personal financial situation positively, compared with 51 percent of Republican primary voters.
Among Democratic primary voters, ratings of the economy and personal finances are closely connected. About 8 in 10 Democrats who rate their personal finances positively rate the Michigan economy positively, compared with about 3 in 10 among Democrats who rate their finances negatively.
By contrast, Republicans largely rate the economy negatively even if they are personally on solid footing. Among GOP voters who rate their own finances as excellent or good, 77 percent rate the Michigan economy negatively, as do 95 percent among Republicans who rate their own finances negatively.
About 6 in 10 Republican primary voters oppose providing additional arms and military supplies to Ukraine in its war with Russia, while about three-quarters of Democratic primary voters support this. Asked about the Israel-Gaza war, about 6 in 10 Republicans support providing Israel with more arms and military support while Democrats are divided (46 percent support, 47 percent oppose).
Eight in 10 Democratic voters say they agreed more with the autoworkers during recent strikes against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. That falls to about 3 in 10 among Republican primary voters. Fewer than 2 in 10 Republicans say they agreed more with auto companies, almost half say they agreed more with neither side.
The Post-Monmouth poll was conducted Dec. 7-11 among a random sample of 606 potential voters in Michigan’s Republican primary and 460 potential voters in Michigan’s Democratic primary. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points among the Republican sample and five points among the Democrats. Interviews were completed by live callers on cellphones and landlines (63 percent), as well as through an online survey via cellphone text invitation (37 percent).