In November of this year, Governor Rick Snyder will be up for re-election in Michigan. Governor Snyder signed contentious Right to Work legislation into law in 2013. The law was seen as highly unpopular and seen as a way for Snyder to lose the election in November of 2014. In fact, 44% of Michiganders support a ballot measure that would repeal the right to work legislation, compared to 34% who oppose, according to the most recent Public Policy Polling poll. Despite this general support for repealing right to work legislation, Snyder is currently leading his re-election bid against Mark Schauer 43%-39%. This is pretty consistent with what the polling has shown for a few months.
The good news for the Democratic Party and Mark Schauer is that there are a number of factors working in their favor. While Michigan is regarded as a swing state during presidential elections, Michigan has fairly consistently voted Democrat in recent presidential elections. There is a larger number of Democratic voters in the state of Michigan than there are Republican voters. The other factor working in favor of Schauer is that not many people know who he is, still. Governor Snyder has a favorability of 40% favorable/48% unfavorable among Michigan voters. Snyder’s name recognition is both high and negative. Meanwhile, Schauer’s favorability is 22/23. Not even half of Michigan voters have formed an opinion of Schauer. It is important to note that it is easier to gain name recognition than it is to flip opinion on you. Schauer could, very easily, gain points on Snyder in the next 7 months and close that 4 point gap. That’s the quick idea, anyway.
At least in this poll, it is easy to see where Schauer could pick up some of these points. Schauer’s name recognition among women is at 40% while it is 53% among men. It is in part because of that that he is only leading Snyder by 3 points, 42-39, in a head-to-head matchup among women. Schauer’s net favorability among women is +4 (22/18) compared to Snyder’s -3 (39/42). But Scahuer is actually underperforming what you would expect. Public Policy Polling asked about a generic legislative ballot and women overwhelmingly stated they would vote Democratic on the legislative ballot 50-33. Women also support repealing the right-to-work law more than men, as 45% said they would support repealing the right to work law compared to 25% who stated they oppose it. Men barely support repealing the right to work law (44-43). I am curious to see how women, nationally, view right-to-work legislation as the wage gap between men and women among union members is half the size of the wage gap among non-union workers.
The difficulty to Schauer could be that he is not appealing to independents, as much as he should be. Among independent/other voters, Governor Snyder has a -6 net favorability (39/45) compared to Schauer at -3 (18/21). Despite these numbers, Snyder holds a 10 point lead, 42-32, among independents. To make matters more confusing, on the generic legislative ballot the Democratic legislative spot holds a 11 point lead, 38-27. 48% of Independent/Other voters support repealing right to work legislation and 31% oppose repealing the right-to-work legislation. It’s easy to suggest that the governor’s race is just noise because Snyder holds a 35 point lead in name recognition. The numbers certainly indicate that they are noise. There are not really any numbers really indicating that it is not. The Republican led legislature is receiving the most blame for the unpopularity of conservative laws being passed. Most casual observers in politics focus only on executive elections, but changing the party dynamic of the state legislature, would be a significant accomplishment for the Democratic Party.