The Wisconsin race for governor has no clear leader, while Democratic gubernatorial candidates hold the edge in Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to new CNN polls conducted by SSRS in the three key states.
In Michigan, incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer leads Republican Tudor Dixon among likely voters, 52% to 46%. Voters are 6 percentage points likelier to view Whitmer favorably than unfavorably, while Dixon’s rating is underwater by 10 points.
And in Pennsylvania, Democrat Josh Shapiro leads Republican Doug Mastriano in the race to replace Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, 56% to 41%, among likely voters. There’s a particularly stark contrast in voters’ impressions of the two candidates.
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In the Michigan and Pennsylvania governor’s races, the surveys find Democratic voters highly unified around their party’s candidates, with relatively weak consolidation among GOP voters. In Michigan, 99% of Democratic likely voters back Whitmer, compared with the 89% of Republican likely voters who support Dixon. In Pennsylvania, 99% of Democrats support Shapiro, compared with a smaller 82% of Republicans backing Mastriano. That’s helping the Democratic candidates in both states, but it also raises the potential for a shift if Republican voters rally around the GOP nominees before Election Day.
A tenth of likely voters in the Michigan governor’s race haven’t decided whom to support or say that they could change their mind before Election Day, as do 12% of likely voters in the Pennsylvania governor’s race – both modestly higher than in Wisconsin, where that number stands at 6%.
In Michigan, there are also some signs of an enthusiasm advantage for the GOP: 64% of Republican registered voters say they’re extremely motivated to vote, compared with 55% of Democratic registered voters. Similarly, 67% of Republican registered voters find the election extremely interesting, compared with 58% of Democratic registered voters.
In all three states, the Democratic candidate leads among female voters, voters younger than 45 and White voters with college degrees, while the Republican candidate leads among White voters without college degrees. There’s more variation between male voters in the states, with men favoring Michels in Wisconsin and breaking toward Dixon in Michigan, but backing Shapiro in Pennsylvania. Independent voters are roughly split between the two Michigan gubernatorial candidates, while they broadly back Shapiro over Mastriano in Pennsylvania, 53% to 42%, and back Evers over Michels in Wisconsin, 55% to 42%.
In Wisconsin, voters’ opinions of both Evers and Michels are closely divided between positive and negative assessments. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Democratic candidates are viewed on balance favorably, while the Republicans’ ratings are underwater – a dynamic that’s particularly prominent in Pennsylvania, where a 56% majority of likely voters hold favorable opinions of Shapiro, while 53% rate Mastriano unfavorably.
Across the three states, issues surrounding the economy and inflation remain the top concern for the widest swath of voters, with abortion and issues of voting rights and election integrity coming second and third on the list.
Economic gloom is pervasive across the states. Just 1 in 10 Wisconsin likely voters say the state’s economy is getting better, with 61% saying it’s getting worse, and the rest saying it’s stayed about the same. The picture is similar in Michigan, where 13% of likely voters see the economy as getting better and 61% see it as worsening. In Pennsylvania, only 8% of likely voters see the state’s economy improving, while 63% say it’s getting worse.
There are also sharp partisan divides in election confidence. More than 90% of Democratic likely voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania say they’re at least somewhat confident that votes in their state will be accurately cast and counted in this year’s election. That view is held by just about half (51%) of Republican likely voters in Wisconsin.
It’s shared by even fewer GOP voters in Pennsylvania (46% have confidence), where Mastriano has fervently supported attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and in Michigan (41% have confidence), where both Dixon and Republican Secretary of State nominee Kristina Karamo have falsely claimed former President Donald Trump won the state in the 2020 election.
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The Michigan secretary of state race is currently close, with 51% of likely voters backing Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson and 47% supporting Karamo. Wisconsin’s secretary of state race is also tight, with likely voters about evenly split between Democratic incumbent Doug La Follette and Republican Amy Loudenbeck. The Wisconsin secretary of state does not have authority over elections there.
A 54% majority of likely voters in Michigan say they back Proposal 3, which would amend the Michigan state constitution to establish a new individual right to reproductive freedom, including the right to have an abortion; 45% are opposed. Opinions on the measure broadly follow partisan lines, but with significant defections: 14% of Democratic voters say they’d vote no, while one-quarter (25%) of Republican voters say they’d vote yes. There’s also a significant age split, with 68% younger than 45 supporting Proposal 3, compared with 48% of voters 45 or older. About 59% of all likely voters in the state describe themselves as either dissatisfied or angry with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade – 51% of female voters say that they’re angry, compared with 29% of male voters who feel the same.
The CNN polls were conducted October 13-17 in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and October 13-18 in Michigan by SSRS, using a combination of online and telephone interviews. The survey samples were originally drawn from two sources – a probability-based online panel and a registration-based sample – and combined. Results among the full sample of 901 registered voters in Michigan have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. In Pennsylvania, the full sample of 901 registered voters has an error margin of plus or minus 4.1 points. In Wisconsin, the full sample of 905 registered voters has an error margin of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. Likely voters were identified in each state through a series of questions about their intention to, interest in and past history of voting. Results among 651 likely voters in Michigan have an error margin of plus or minus 4.9 points; it is 4.6 points for the sample of 703 likely voters in Pennsylvania and 4.5 points for the sample of 714 likely voters in Wisconsin.
CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.