Hillary Clinton is hanging onto a narrow 4-point lead over Donald Trump in Michigan heading into the last weekend before Tuesday’s election, with a new Free Press poll showing clear momentum for the Republican nominee in a state that several weeks ago was believed all but decided for the Democrat.
The poll, done exclusively for the Free Press by EPIC-MRA of Lansing, shows Clinton’s support steady at 42% -- up a point from where it was late last month. But it also clearly shows Republicans and some independents rallying around Trump in the waning days of the campaign season, with his support up four points from two weeks ago to 38%.
Meanwhile, the number of undecided voters -- 13% -- remains extraordinarily high for this late in an election cycle, speaking to the high unfavorable marks voters give both major party candidates. Should they break for Trump on Election Day, it could be decisive, though with that high a number this late in the campaign it could indicate many will sit out this race altogether.
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“Half of them I think are going to end up not going to the polls,” said EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn. “A lot of them are not motivated to vote.” The new poll showed Trump’s surge of support not coming from undecided voters, but from those who had previously voiced support for Libertarian Gary Johnson. As the election approaches, Johnson’s support fell from nine points two weeks ago to five points now.
EPIC-MRA surveyed 600 likely voters between Tuesday and Thursday for the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. That means that while the poll showed a lead for Clinton in Michigan -- which hasn’t turned for a Republican nominee for president since George H.W. Bush in 1988 -- it could be in play.
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Certainly both campaigns have been treating Michigan as important recently. Clinton is coming to Detroit today for a get-out-the-vote rally in Eastern Market and important surrogates for her have been in town most of the week, including her husband former President Bill Clinton. Trump visited Grand Rapids and Warren earlier this week, and his children and running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, have been here as well. Both campaigns are advertising in Michigan, as well.
If Trump could turn Michigan -- which has always been among his targets as he went after disaffected, white, working-class voters in the Rust Belt -- it could help him broach Clinton’s firewall of traditionally blue states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A win in any of them, coupled with wins in North Carolina, Nevada or New Hampshire, could help turn the tide for the Republican nationally.
Still, there was much for Clinton to be heartened by in the poll. Her voters still tended to be more enthusiastic than Trump's on a scale of 1-to-10, and she continued to maintain a lead -- albeit, a shrinking one -- over Trump with younger voters, ahead 39%-36% among voters age 18-34. Among black voters, her margin also grew substantially, to 92% compared to 88% two weeks ago.
Trump, however, has eaten into her lead in metro Detroit, the most populous part of the state, which she now leads 48%-35% compared to 50%-26% two weeks ago, when her overall lead in the state was seven points and before FBI Director James Comey announced that the agency would look into new emails found on a computer server belonging to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, the husband of one of her top aides. Clinton still holds a 61%-15% lead over Trump in Wayne County, but is now trailing him 41%-31% in Macomb. In Oakland County, her lead is down to 41%-37%, 10 points off what it was in late October.
Outstate, Trump leads -- but only slightly -- by 40%-38%.
Trump also held a similar 40%-36% lead among men statewide, a point up from two weeks ago, with 15% undecided. Among women, Clinton still had a commanding 11-point lead, 47%-36%, though that was down from 15% in late October. Twelve percent of women were undecided.
(2016 © Detroit Free Press)