The issue of jobs in Michigan is waning as 2018 election looms

Governor race polling

LANSING, MICH - We're more than a year away from electing a new governor in Michigan but some polling numbers are already giving us a snapshot of what people, at the moment, believe are the next governor's biggest priorities.

And it's not what you might expect.

When former Gov. Jennifer Granholm was term-limited in 2009, then-candidate Rick Snyder started heavily campaigning he would bring back jobs to the state and rescue the state's economy.  Considering the state was in the middle of a recession and unemployment was near 15 percent, it was a smart move and it paid off.  Snyder was elected to office beginning in 2010 and will likely serve two 4-year terms.

But it's a different story in 2017 according to a new poll of approximately 800 people from all parts of Michigan done by Target-Insyght, led by pollster Ed Sarpolus.

Jobs and the importance of improving the economy is ranked fifth in order of importance in the poll done in late July of this year.

Here's the list in order of most votes by those polled:
21% Taxes and government spending
19% Healthcare
18% Undecided/Unsure
14% Education
12% Economy & Jobs
12% Infrastructure – Roads & Bridges
2% Protecting Seniors
1% Opioid abuse
1% Preventing crime

Perhaps it's not surprising jobs isn't the top priority. Michigan's unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent during June, the lowest rate recorded since August 2000.

It's notable the majority of people want the next governor to take a heavy look at how the public is taxed and how the money is being spent. The survey also shows how important the discussion over health care is on the federal level.

Target-Insyght also took a look at prospective candidates in the governor's race and it appears Attorney General Bill Schuette has a wide early lead on the Republican side. Schuette, in a hypothetical matchup with Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, is ahead by almost 40 points. That matches what we've seen in some other polling. Schuette is certainly known for his recent investigation of the Flint water crisis. Calley, of late, has been making a big push to make the legislature part-time.

Top Republicans in Governor’s Race
42% Bill Schuette
32% Undecided/Unsure
14% Brian Calley
6%  Other
4% Patrick Colbeck
1% Jim Hines
Source: Target-Insyght (Margin of Error +/- 5.35%)

As far as Democrats go, Target-Insyght found the two top in the party at the moment are former lawmaker Gretchen Whitmer and noted attorney Geoffrey Fieger. They are both tied at 35 percent with a smaller amount of undecided voters considering the race is more than a year away.

Top Democrats in Governor’s Race
35% Gretchen Whitmer
35% Geoffrey Fieger
15% Undecided/Unsure
9% Other
4% Abdul El-Sayed
3% Shri Thanedar
Source: Target-Insyght (Margin of Error +/- 5.35%)

Schuette and Calley have not announced their candidacies just yet.  Whitmer has been campaigning since the beginning of 2017 while Fieger, who lost to then Gov. John Engler in Michigan's 1998 gubernatorial election, has not announced he will run just yet. 

Keep in mind, Gov. Rick Snyder was a virtual unknown in political circles at this time in the process in 2009 suggesting there's always an opportunity for an unknown who makes an extreme investment of time and resources to win it all. 

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