This is an excerpt of a column I wrote Monday for Deadline Detroit.
By Chad Selweski
With just days before the election, Gretchen Whitmer and other Democratic candidates for statewide office may have a problem with a lack of voter enthusiasm in Detroit, the party’s biggest and most loyal source of support.
According to two new polls, Whitmer’s Detroit backing in the governor’s race stands at 77 or 78 percent. Republican nominee Bill Schuette is stuck in single digits.
That lead sounds formidable, but Democrats traditionally rely on Motown to provide huge margins in statewide elections, to offset the GOP votes in west Michigan and Up North.
Bernie Porn, pollster for Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, said it’s no surprise that when the Democratic Party scheduled Friday night’s Michigan campaign rally featuring Barack Obama, they brought him to a site in Detroit.
“A Democrat should be at least in the mid-80s in Detroit. Sometimes they’re in the high 80s or even 90,” said Porn. “They’re lagging a bit and they’ve got some work to do.”
A statewide EPIC-MRA poll Oct. 18-23 found that Whitmer had 77 percent support among likely Detroit voters, while Schuette was at 3 percent, independent and third-party candidates garnered a combined 13 percent, and 7 percent were undecided.
On a scale of 0 to 100, some 61 percent of Detroiters said in the survey that their motivation to vote was at 100. That compares to 72 percent in heavily GOP outstate areas.
Another poll, taken Oct. 15-17 of black voters statewide, most of whom live in Detroit, also found numbers that should concern Democratic strategists. In this survey by Target Insyght, a Lansing firm, 33 percent had not heard of Whitmer and 23 percent showed little interest in the outcome of the governor’s race.
“In Detroit, people want to get to know the candidate. In Detroit, you can’t just get out the vote, you’ve got to get out your vote,” said Target Insyght pollster Ed Sarpolus. “The point is that the black vote is not monolithic. The poll shows that 18 percent identify as independents, and there are some Republicans in there, some voting for third-party candidates.”