NBC News/Marist Poll Results & Analysis of Michigan: September 2020

Biden Up by 8 Points in Michigan

With 16 electoral votes at stake in Michigan, former Vice President Joe Biden (52%) has an 8-point advantage against President Donald Trump (44%) among likely voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. In 2016, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by fewer than 11,000 votes statewide.

MI Presidential Tossup
If November's election for president were held today, whom would you support if the candidates are: [If undecided: If you had to decide today, are you leaning more towards:][If already voted: Whom did you support in the presidential election?]
Source: NBC News/Marist Poll. Survey conducted Sep 19 – Sep 23, 2020. Margin of error for 799 likely voters is +/- 4.3%.
  • Biden outpaces Trump among Black voters likely to cast a ballot, voters with a college degree – especially white women with a college degree – women overall, and voters in the cities and their suburbs, especially suburban women.

  • Trump does best among white evangelical Christians, white men without a college degree, and voters in rural areas.

  • White voters who are likely to cast a ballot divide. In 2016, Trump outdistanced Clinton by 21 points among white voters.

  • Biden has the support of 56% of independents and outpaces Trump (37%) by 19 points. In 2016, Clinton lost independents by 16 points. Biden’s margin is fueled by women who identify as independents among whom he leads Trump by 39 points.

  • Six percent of voters are persuadable, that is, voters who are undecided or who support a candidate but might vote differently.

79% of likely voters with a candidate preference for president strongly support their choice of candidate. 87% of Trump’s supporters, compared with 72% of Biden’s backers, express this level of support.

“Michigan is the foundation of Biden’s rebuilding of the ‘blue wall’ in the industrial Midwest,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist Poll. “To understand the difference in the Michigan contest from four years ago, look no further than women, particularly those who identify as independents. There has been a 46-point swing among this group in the Democrats’ favor from 2016.”

Trump’s approval rating is upside down among Michigan adults (41% approve to 52% disapprove). In 2018, 35% of residents statewide approved of the president’s job performance while 53% disapproved. 12% were unsure. While nearly three in ten (29%) adults strongly approve of how Trump is doing in office, a plurality (42%) strongly disapprove.

40% of likely voters have a favorable view of Trump, and 56% have an unfavorable one. Biden fares slightly better with 47% saying they have a favorable opinion of the former Vice President and 46% reporting they have an unfavorable one.

A plurality of likely voters perceive Trump to be the candidate who can better handle the economy. However, Biden is considered stronger on the issues of race relations and coronavirus. Voters divide over who would better handle crime.

Candidate Who Would Better Handle the Issues

Source: NBC News/Marist Poll. Survey conducted Sep 19 – Sep 23, 2020. Margin of error for 799 likely voters is +/- 4.3%.

Other Findings

U.S. Senate in Michigan

Democrat Gary Peters (49%) leads Republican John James (44%) among likely voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. 68% of likely voters with a candidate preference for the U.S. Senate strongly support their choice of candidate. This includes 63% of Peters’ supporters and 74% of James’ backers. 11% of likely voters are persuadable in this contest, that is, voters who are undecided or who support a candidate but might vote differently.

SCOTUS Vacancy

A majority of Michigan adults (55%) think the winner of the upcoming presidential election should decide who gets to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Included here are 89% of Democrats, 60% of independents, and 13% of Republicans. Driven by Republicans (76%), nearly one in three Michiganders (32%) say Trump should immediately fill the seat. Seven percent of adults statewide say Trump should appoint a Supreme Court Justice after the election regardless of who wins.

Concerns Over Racial Protests

Michigan residents divide over whether they are more concerned about the actions of protestors looting or using violence in the aftermath of the police actions against George Floyd and Jacob Blake or whether they are more concerned about the actions of police against these two men. 46% of state residents worry about unlawful protestors, and 43% find the actions of police more worrisome.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Job Approval Rating

A majority of Michigan residents (55%) approve of the job Governor Gretchen Whitmer is doing in office. 38% disapprove.