New State of the State survey results: Democrats Narrowly Ahead in Two Top-of-Ticket Races

Oct 26, 2018

With mid-term elections less than two weeks away, Democrats appear to lead in two top-of-ticket races, the latest results from Michigan State University’s State of the State Survey indicate. Michigan’s attorney general race is likely too close to call, results show.


Three ballot proposals – to legalize sale and use of marijuana, allow a citizen commission to redraw Michigan’s voting districts and to broaden voting registration and absentee balloting – appear on their way to approval in early responses to the latest survey.

In Michigan’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer appears to lead Republican Bill Schuette 47 percent to 39 percent, respectively, in State of the State Survey (SOSS) interviews conducted Oct. 13-Oct. 22.

Democrat Debbie Stabenow leads Republican John James 49 percent to 42 percent, respectively, SOSS results show.

Republican Tom Leonard is outpacing Democrat Dana Nessel 40 percent to 37 percent, respectively, in SOSS responses. “That puts them within the margin of error and extremely close,” says SOSS Director Charles Ballard, MSU economics professor.

The results include respondents who were undecided when first asked who they would vote for, but made a choice among major party candidates when asked a second time.

Ballard called for caution in reading the earliest responses to SOSS, the state’s only survey to tap the opinions and attitudes of Michigan citizens on a regular basis.

The analysis is early, based on respondents reached this month, he said. The survey doesn’t screen for likely voters.

Despite these  results, leads can evaporate as elections near, he cautioned. “As always, turnout will make the difference. In elections, a week and a half is a very long time.”

“My read of past experience is that if there is a swing in the final days, it is often in the conservative and Republican direction.”

In ballot races:
• Proposal 1, legalizing recreational marijuana, was ahead 58 percent “yes” to 37 percent “no.”
• Michigan adults favored Proposal 2 calling for voting districts to be drawn by a citizen commission rather than Michigan’s Legislature, 42 percent “yes” to 32 percent “no.”
• Proposal 3, known as “Promote the Vote” to allow for election-day registration and no-reason absentee voting, drew 68 percent “yes” choices and 19 percent “no.”
The results were nnounced Friday during the State of the State Podcast. The podcast is a production of MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) and WKAR.

Each State of the State podcast features two IPPSR directors and a guest whose research focuses on a timely topic. This month’s podcast featured Ballard, Interim IPPSR Director Arnold Weinfeld and Zachary Neal, MSU associate professor of psychology and global urban studies.

Neal’s most recent research focuses on the depth and extent of political polarization.

The policy-focused State of the State podcast is carried over iTunes, SoundCloud, and radio stations throughout Michigan.

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.