Whitmer's approval rating drops amid COVID-19 controversies


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. - STATE OF MICHIGAN
  • State of Michigan
  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s job approval rating is dropping, but she still has favorable reviews from half of Michigan voters, according to a Detroit Regional Chamber poll released Monday.

The survey of 600 registered voters, conducted May 22-26, found that 44% of registered voters said they disapproved of Whitmer’s performance, while 50% approved. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Whitmer’s approval rating fell from 58% in a similar poll in February, when 38% said they disapproved of her performance.

The Democrat’s declining rating follows a series of controversies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whitmer was criticized in early March for paying Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon a tax-funded severance deal. Later that month, Whitmer took an unannounced trip to Florida to visit her father, even as her administration advised residents not to travel. She acknowledged the trip in mid-April, raising questions about how the trip was funded.

Last month, Whitmer apologized after she was seen in a photo sitting closely with a dozen other people at a restaurant, violating her health department’s social-distancing order.

For most of the pandemic, Whitmer enjoyed a relatively high approval rating for her handling of COVID-19 restrictions.

A University of Michigan School of Public study estimated that Whitmer’s public health measures prevented about 109,000 coronavirus cases, which may have saved about 2,800 lives.

Republicans are scrambling to find a viable candidate to take on Whitmer in 2022. Some potential candidates include Detroit Police Chief James Craig and John James, who lost two consecutive bids for a U.S. Senate seat.

The Michigan GOP is facing a reckoning as pro-Trump party leaders continue to push the party further to the right.

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