Michigan is the first primary in a major industrial state, and today’s Monmouth University Poll finds Hillary Clinton with a 13 point advantage in the Democratic race while Donald Trump holds an identical 13 point lead in the Republican contest. Ted Cruz and John Kasich are vying for second in the GOP primary, while Marco Rubio is trying to meet the delegate threshold. The poll also indicates there might be some late shifts in voter support.
— Republican primary —
Donald Trump currently has the support of 36% of likely GOP primary voters in Michigan, which is significantly higher than the support levels of any of his rivals. Ted Cruz clocks in at 23%, John Kasich has 21%, and Marco Rubio has 13%. Candidates must reach a 15% threshold to be eligible for at-large delegates. Ben Carson, who officially dropped out of the race on Friday, has 1% support in the poll due to voters who already cast their ballots.
Trump is winning among both lower and higher income voters, getting 41% support among those earning less than $50,000, 37% among those earning $50,000 to $100,000, and 32% of those earning $100,000 or more. The GOP race is closer among evangelical Christians – 31% Trump, 31% Cruz, 15% Kasich, 13% Rubio – than it is among non-evangelicals – 39% Trump, 27% Kasich, 17% Cruz, 13% Rubio. However, evangelicals make up less than half of the likely electorate. Trump trails among voters who describe themselves as very conservative. This group, which makes up just over one-third of the electorate, go for Cruz (42%) over Trump (26%), but Trump leads among both somewhat conservative (44%) and moderate (36%) voters. Kasich is in second place with these groups (21% somewhat conservative and 31% moderate).
“After this past weekend’s mixed bag of results, Trump appears positioned for a win in Michigan, but the race may be tightening in the final hours.” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Trump’s support may be dropping, while Kasich’s star could be rising.”
In interviews conducted Thursday and Friday, Trump held a solid lead with 39% support compared to 22% for Cruz, 17% for Kasich, and 14% for Rubio. The race was much tighter in Saturday and Sunday interviews at 32% for Trump, 26% for Kasich, 25% for Cruz, and 12% for Rubio.
With all the discussion about hands in this election, Monmouth decided to test how Rubio and Cruz would do mano a mano against Trump. Although Rubio is struggling to make the delegate threshold in a four-way race, he would virtually tie Trump in a hypothetical two-person contest – 46% for Rubio and 45% for Trump. Cruz, though, does better, beating Trump 48% to 41% head to head. In the Rubio-Trump contest, both Cruz and Kasich voters would split at more than 2-to-1 for Rubio. However, in the Cruz-Trump matchup, Rubio voters would go 3-to-1 for Cruz, while Kasich voters would split at half for Cruz and less than 1-in-5 for Trump with another 1-in-4 saying they would not vote at all.
If Trump emerges as the GOP nominee, 7-in-10 Michigan Republican primary voters (71%) say they would get behind him in a general election against Hillary Clinton. However, 9% would actually vote for Clinton. While the following responses were not offered in the poll question itself, 4% volunteer that they would vote 3rd party, 9% say they would not vote at all, and 7% are not sure what they would do.
In terms of Republican voter commitment in Tuesday’s primary, 13% of Republican voters have already cast their ballots and 36% say they are completely decided on their candidate choice before they head to the polls. Another 29% have a strong preference but are still open to considering other candidates. Nearly 1-in-4 either have only a slight preference (9%) or are basically undecided (14%) just days before Tuesday’s election. Supporters of Trump (58%) are slightly more likely than Cruz (52%) or Rubio (47%) voters to say they have already voted or that their choice is locked in, with Kasich supporters (37%) being less certain.
— Democratic primary —
Hillary Clinton currently holds a 55% to 42% lead over Bernie Sanders in the Michigan Democratic primary. Clinton enjoys a solid edge among non-white voters (68% to 27%), who make up more than one-fourth of the likely electorate. Clinton (49%) and Sanders (48%) are virtually tied among white voters. Clinton has a 57% to 40% lead among voters who earn less than $50,000 a year, and a 54% to 42% lead among those who earn $50,000 or more. Sanders holds a solid lead (58% to 39%) among voters under the age of 50, but this is offset by Clinton’s more than 2-to-1 advantage among voters age 50 and older (65% to 31%).
“Clinton had Michigan all to herself eight years ago after her opponents pulled out when the state violated party rules in scheduling its primary too early. This time she appears to be holding on in the face of a tough challenge from Sanders,” said Murray. Note: nearly all the interviews for this poll were conducted before Sunday night’s debate.
One-in-ten voters (11%) say they have already cast their ballots in the Democratic primary and another 49% say they have completely decided on their candidate choice. Clinton voters (65%) are slightly more likely than Sanders supporters (58%) to say their choice is locked in, with Clinton voters being twice as likely to have already mailed in their ballots. Another 25% of Democrats have a strong preference but are still open to considering other candidates and 8% have only a slight preference, while 6% say they are still really undecided.
In light of recent controversy over the city of Flint’s water supply, 6-in-10 voters (62%) say that the issue of drinking water quality is very important to their vote for the Democratic nomination and 24% say it is somewhat important. However, few voters see a significant difference in how the two candidates would handle this issue. Just 18% say Clinton would do a better job protecting water quality and a similar 17% say the same about Sanders. Most (61%) say the two candidates would perform equally as well on this issue.
Most Michigan Democratic primary voters (75%) believe that Clinton will eventually become the party’s nominee, including half of Sanders supporters. Just 17% of all primary voters think Sanders will be able to pull it off.
Monmouth University conducted the poll by telephone from March 3 to 6, 2016 with 402 Michigan voters likely to vote in the Republican presidential primary and 302 Michigan voters likely to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. The Republican likely primary voter sample has a margin of error of +4.9 percent and the Democratic likely primary voter sample has a margin of error of +5.6 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.