Poll: Walker, Bush, Carson, Trump top Mich.’s GOP field

Detroit News Washington Bureau

Four candidates are leading the Republican field in Michigan, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 15 percent, followed closely by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump at 14 percent each, according to a survey.

Also among the top nine that Michigan’s Republican surveyed voters favor are Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 9 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 8 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz both at 5 percent, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 4 percent, according to the survey by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling.

The North Carolina-based outfit reached 1,072 registered voters from June 25-28, including 465 Republican primary voters and 431 Democratic primary voters.

The overall margin of error is plus-minus 3 percentage points. The margin grows to plus-minus 4.6 percentage points for the GOP primary sample and plus-minus 4.8 percentage points for the Democratic primary sample.

Carson, a Detroit native and retired neurosurgeon, is viewed the most favorably among Michigan Republicans with 54 percent, although his favorability rating falls to 32 percent among all Michigan voters, according to the survey.

In a potential matchup between Carson and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, Michigan voters would select Clinton 49 percent to Carson’s 41 percent.

Other GOP candidates that garnered favorability ratings of more than 50 percent among Michigan Republicans were Walker, Rubio and Huckabee, according to the poll.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Clinton retains a substantial lead among Michigan Democrats with 57 percent, although Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is gaining support and now commands 25 percent.

“Overall, the results in Michigan are pretty well in line with the numbers we’re seeing nationally at this point. It’s a good microcosm of the overall picture in the race,” said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling.

That includes Carson and Trump, who are polling well across the nation with the most appeal among the most conservative voters, Jensen said.

“Time will tell how long the ‘Trump Bump’ lasts,” said Dean Debnam, the polling firm’s president.

Dan McMaster, a GOP consultant with the bipartisan Lansing firm Grassroots Midwest, said the top-polling candidates are likely benefiting from their name recognition in a large field, especially Trump and Walker, who appear frequently on Fox News.

Walker and Bush also have visited Michigan often over the years for fundraisers and other party events. Despite Kasich’s prominence in neighboring Ohio, he is among the least known Republican candidates in Michigan, according to the poll.

“I think people from Michigan align themselves with Wisconsin more so than Ohio,” McMaster said.

Kasich “has done a lot as a past congressman and current governor, but we just don’t hear about him here in Michigan.”

He noted that Kasich also has no ground operation or even active email outreach in Michigan.

“Kasich’s big issue at this point is name recognition,” Jensen said. “It’s very possible that, as he starts building up name recognition and telling voters his story, he’ll do a lot better.”

The poll contacted 80 percent of the registered voters by land-line phone and the other 20 percent by Internet.

mburke@detroitnews.com

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