LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Just as he has done nationally, President Barack Obama has seen an improved favorability rating among Michigan voters, following the death of Osama bin Laden. However, most Michiganders are still unhappy with how he’s handling the economy, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
The Democratic president announced May 1 that “justice had been done” after a team of military counter-terrorism experts found bin Laden in his luxury hideout in Pakistan and killed him.
When polled May 9-11 by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, 53 percent of likely Michigan voters had a favorable opinion of Obama, up 9 points since a late February poll. Forty percent had an unfavorable opinion and 7 percent were undecided. Half gave Obama a positive job rating on how he was doing on foreign affairs and waging the war in Afghanistan.
But when the question of which President, Obama or George W. Bush, should receive the most credit for bin Laden’s capture, responses fell along party lines.
“There’s still, like, a predisposition to put a partisan level of importance to it,” EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn told WWJ.
“Among Democrats, 78 percent said Obama, 4 percent Bush. Among Republicans, 42 percent said that Bush should get the credit and only 23 percent said Obama should get the credit. That seemed kind of surprising to me,” Porn said.
Despite the overall jump in favorability, 66 percent of the 600 likely voters polled gave the president a negative rating on his handling of the economy, a top priority in a state where the unemployment rate remains above 10 percent and a decade has passed since more jobs were created than lost. Michigan could prove to be a critical swing state when Obama runs for re-election next year.
Economists now predict the state will add 50,000 to 60,000 jobs a year for the next three years, but voters remain wary. Fifty-five percent said they consider the nation and the state to be on the wrong track. Only a third thought the nation was headed in the right direction, and only 28 percent had that opinion of the state.
The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
While 49 percent gave the president a positive job rating and 50 percent rated him negatively, he still did better than Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
After riding a tide of hope for better times into office early this year, Snyder has seen his negative job rating grow to 60 percent. Just 27 percent gave him a positive job rating and 13 percent were undecided. Only 38 percent said they had a favorable opinion of the governor, who is preparing to sign a bill that drastically cuts business taxes while requiring individuals – including retirees – to pay more.
Voters had a more positive opinion of U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat running for re-election next year. Forty-one percent gave her a positive job rating, while 43 gave her a negative rating. Sixteen percent were undecided.
Republicans say the two-term senator from Lansing is vulnerable because only 47 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her, below the critical level of 50 percent. Still, several Republicans have announced in recent weeks that they won’t run against the well-funded incumbent, who has reported having more than $3 million on hand.
U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land now say they won’t challenge Stabenow. Former Kent County Probate Judge Randy Hekman and Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy have announced they’re running, and several others are looking at the race, including former state GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis and cardiologist Rob Steele, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. John Dingell last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.