Detroit News co-sponsors GOP presidential straw poll

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

The Detroit News and Michigan Information & Research Service are sponsoring a straw poll of registered Republicans at an influential weekend conference to see who they support for the presidential nomination.

Six Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak Friday and Saturday at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel and try to gain the support of the party’s leaders, donors and activists at the biennial conference.

The speakers are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina of California and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The Detroit News/MIRS straw poll will ask the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference’s 2,180 registered participants on a secured survey whom they back among the party’s 16 active candidates. Participants also will be asked who they favor for the GOP’s vice presidential nomination next year.

“The Detroit News is very excited to be co-sponsoring the straw poll on Mackinac Island,” said Jonathan Wolman, editor and publisher of The Detroit News. “This obviously is one of the most interesting presidential elections that we've seen in decades.

“This straw poll is part of an aggressive coverage plan we have for the campaign season. It will be fascinating to see how Michigan Republicans respond to those candidates who are on the island and those who aren’t.”

Billionaire New York real estate developer Donald Trump has been leading in national and most state-level polls, while Detroit native and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has climbed into second place. Both of them are not attending the Michigan conference.

“Following Wednesday night’s debate, there’s no doubt Michigan Republicans will be ready to show support for their favorite candidate,” MIRS Publisher John Reurink said.

Attorney General Bill Schuette, who chairs Bush’s Michigan campaign, told reporters in a Thursday call that he wants Republicans at the conference to fill out the ballot for Bush but he wouldn’t be campaigning for votes.

“We’re not actively campaigning for votes in the straw poll,” Schuette said.

The results of the survey will be released late Saturday night after all of the presidential candidates have spoken.

Check this weekend for live coverage of the conference from Mackinac Island.

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Detroit News Staff Writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed.