Poll: Mich. white working-class voters favor Trump 2-1

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Republican Donald Trump had a two-to-one lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton among white voters without a college education in presidential election exit polling Tuesday that also showed white women favoring Trump over Clinton.

Exit polling conducted for The Detroit News and national television networks in Michigan found 61 percent of white voters without a college education favoring Trump and 31 percent siding with Clinton.

Among white female voters, Trump had a seven-percentage point lead in the exit poll of 2,774 Michigan voters conducted by Edison Research.

Trump’s strategy for upsetting Clinton in Michigan has hinged on building a large coalition of white working voters to outmatch Clinton’s overwhelming advantage among African American voters.

Turnout in Detroit and Flint was being closely watched Tuesday night as elections rolled in.

Seven in 10 Michigan voters were bothered by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “treatment of women,” a problem that overshadowed reservations voters had with Democrat Hillary Clinton’s conduct as secretary of state, according to exit polling.

Exit polling conducted for The Detroit News and national television networks found 70 percent of voters were disturbed by Trump’s treatment of the opposite sex, with 50 percent saying they were bothered “a lot” by his outlandish behavior.

In early October, audio was released from a 2005 “Access Hollywood” taping in which Trump was heard describing attempts to have sex with a married woman and bragging about getting away with fondling women because he is famous.

“Donald Trump has said so many ridiculous things, especially about women,” said Tiphanycq Pugh, a 39-year-old Ferndale resident who voted for Clinton.

Clinton’s controversial use of a private email server to store messages while she was secretary of state also was bothersome to Michigan voters. In July, FBI Director James Comey said Clinton and her State Department colleagues were “extremely careless” with national security information, but said there was no intent to mishandle it so he didn’t pursue criminal charges.

Fifty-nine percent of 1,990 state voters said they were bothered “some” or “a lot” by Clinton’s email server.

Three in five Michigan voters also said they do not consider Trump, the 70-year-old New York businessman, qualified to serve as president.

That finding is consistent with polling conducted for The Detroit News since the July national conventions. In late September, 62.5 percent of likely state voters said Trump is unqualified to be president.

“She’s very intelligent, smart, knows world politics. She’s qualified for the job,” Ryan Reinbold, 38, of Lansing. “Donald Trump isn’t qualified to work at Applebee’s.”

In the exit poll, voters said they viewed Trump and Clinton as equally dishonest.

It found that 64 percent of voters said they did not believe Trump was honest and trustworthy. Clinton garnered the same dishonesty rating.

Clinton and Trump spent the final days of the election battling over Michigan. Trump visited the state twice in the final nine days, while running mate Mike Pence visited four times. Clinton visited once, while her husband, former President Bill Clinton, visited for three days in Flint, Lansing and Detroit.

But the exit polling suggests most voters made up minds months ago.

About 60 percent of voters said they had decided on their choice for president before September, while 11 percent decided in September and 13 percent made up their minds in October. Just 10 percent of voters said they decided in the past week of the election.

Overall, Michigan voters had a dour view of the economy and government — two areas Trump has tried to exploit in his bid for the White House.

The poll found 59 percent of Michigan voters believe the economy is in poor or “not so good” condition, while 40 percent say it is good or excellent.

Voters shared their views on hot-buttons issues that have been at the center of the Trump and Clinton campaigns.

Two out of three Michiganians said the economic system favors the wealthy — an issue Clinton and Democrats have pounded on the campaign stump.

Half of all voters surveyed said they think international trade agreements would take away U.S. jobs, while 31 percent think trade deals create jobs and 13 percent think the deals have no effect on American workers.

Voters had mixed views about the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” The exit poll showed 43 percent of voters think the law expanding access to health insurance went too far, while 30 percent said it didn’t go far enough.

The exit polling found Michigan voters were divided on whether the country’s criminal justice system is fair to African-Americans.

In the wake of protests over police shootings of unarmed black men, 44 percent of voters said the criminal justice system treats blacks unfairly, while 49 percent said police treat all people fairly.

The exit pollster’s sample of 2,774 voters contained a sample of 39 percent Democrats, 31 percent Republican and 29 percent of voters who identify as independents.


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Twitter: @ChadLivengood