Tudor Dixon holds slim lead, Michigan GOP gubernatorial race draw: poll reveals

Lansing – Conservative commentator Tudor Dixon holds a slight edge in the Republican gubernatorial primary race with many GOP voters still undecided and former President Donald Trump’s potential endorsement looming, according to a poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Channel 4).

The survey shows Dixonbusinessman Kevin RinkeReal estate broker Ryan Kelley and chiropractor Garrett Soldano in a big open race to be the Republican nominee to challenge Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Of 500 likely GOP primary voters polled July 13-15, 19% said they would vote for Dixon while 15% said Rinke, 13% favored Kelley and 12% supported Soldano. About 2% supported the pastor Ralph Rebandtwhile 38% of Republican voters surveyed say they are undecided.

Dixon’s slim lead was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

The primary race is a “complete toss” with four candidates still having different paths to victory on August 2, said Richard Czuba, founder of the Lansing-based Glengariff Group, which conducted the poll.

Trump could swing the contest if he chooses to endorse in the final days of the campaign, Czuba said.

“We’re two weeks out, and this race is stalling waiting for Donald Trump to decide whether he’s going to dive in or not,” Czuba said.

Among undecided voters, 63% said an endorsement from Trump would be very or somewhat important in helping them choose a candidate, the poll found.

The 500 likely Republican voters surveyed were interviewed by telephone operators, with 60% of respondents contacted by cellphone from across Michigan, according to the Glengariff Group.

The five Republican gubernatorial candidates are running their first campaigns for public office and are trying to get themselves known to voters with two weeks to go before the primary election.

Norton Shores’ Dixon has gained prominence in recent weeks after receiving a series of key endorsements, including support from Right to Life of Michigan, the DeVos family, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Police Officers Association of Michigan. A political committee called Michigan Families United also launched television ads in June promoting his candidacy.

Dixon’s supporters claimed she had the best chance of defeating Whitmer, who won her first term in 2018 by nine percentage points over Republican Bill Schuette.

It’s an argument that resonates with Republican voter David Flickema of Muskegon, who is considering voting for Dixon.

Dixon has a better chance than other GOP candidates because she can garner stronger support from female voters, Flickema said.

“I just want Whitmer out of there,” he said.

Other candidates are following closely

Still, Dixon’s lead over Rinke, Kelley and Soldano is slim. And while Rinke is in second place, according to the new poll, his campaign has spent the most on TV ads.

“As the race ends, it begins to follow the traditional pattern as whoever has the most money begins to take the lead,” said John Sellek, CEO of Michigan-based policy consultancy Harbor Strategic Public Affairs. , about Dixon and Rinke.

Bloomfield Township Rinke has already promised to spend $10 million of his own money about his campaign and began running an ad that says Dixon is “funded by anti-Trump billionaires,” a reference to the wealthy DeVos clan in West Michigan.

Candidate Garrett Soldano, Thursday evening, May 12, 2022.

Dixon and Rinke have a big advantage over Kelley and Soldano when it comes to the ability to let voters know who they are, a fact that could be crucial with so many voters still undecided, Sellek said.

Dixon has a large lead among primary voters in Metro Detroit, where 29% of poll participants said they support her and Rinke was second with 15% in her home region. In the rest of Michigan, Rinke was in first place with 15% and Dixon in fourth with 12%.

While Dixon and Rinke lead among voters who have already voted by mail or plan to do so in the coming days, Kelley and Soldano have the edge among Election Day voters, a potential sign of hope for them.

Ryan Kelley during a candidates' debate on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

Of those planning to vote on Aug. 2, 16% said they supported Kelley, of Allendale, and 14% said they supported Soldano, of Mattawan. Both Dixon and Rinke were getting about 13% of Election Day voters.

In a tweet on Monday, Soldano called race polls “hot trash.”

“I’ll take our base army any day of the week, Soldano posted.

Trump’s endorsement

Whether Trump will endorse any of the five candidates remains a potentially pivotal question in the Republican primary race for governor.

Overall, more than 60% of likely primary voters said Trump’s endorsement would be important to their decision, including 32% who said it would be very important.

“It’s Donald Trump’s race to win or lose if he chooses to,” pollster Czuba said.

Kevin Rinke participates in a Michigan Republican Governor's Debate at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Dixon was among the candidates aggressively seeking Trump’s support, and some of the former president’s advisers helped her campaign.

Trump has spoken positively of Dixon in the past. In February, his campaign held a fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. During the event, Trump called her “very special.”

But Dixon’s critics have questioned why an endorsement hasn’t arrived yet and have focused on his ties to Betsy DeVos, Trump’s former education secretary.. DeVos resigned from Trump’s cabinet a day after the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol when Trump supporters tried to disrupt certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election..

DeVos has since acknowledged that she discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment with other Cabinet members to remove Trump before the end of his term, according to CNN.

At this point, any of the four Republican candidates leading the race can go to Trump and say his endorsement will make a difference for them, Czuba said.

After a debate Friday morning, Soldano told reporters that people had recently spoken to Trump on his behalf.

The timing of a potential Trump move changes every 48 hours, Soldano said.

“It was a stunning, prolonged fight in a phone booth,” Soldano said. “And everyone is just waiting for something to happen.”

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