GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The two leaders in the Republican gubernatorial primary race include the candidate who was charged last week in connection to the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a new poll shows, though the survey also found most people haven’t yet made up their mind about who to vote for.
The poll released Thursday morning by EPIC-MRA surveyed 400 people who said they were likely to vote in the Republican primary. Forty-five percent said they had not yet decided who to vote for or declined to answer.
Seventeen percent said they would vote for Ryan Kelley, a real estate broker from Allendale, and 13% for Mattawan chiropractor Garrett Soldano. Because the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%, those two candidates are considered in a statistical dead heat. Twelve percent said they would vote for Bloomfield Township auto dealership owner Kevin Rinke, putting him just .1% outside a statistical dead heat with Kelley and Soldano.
The poll was conducted between June 10 and June 13. On June 9, Kelley, was arrested by the FBI and charged with four misdemeanor counts for being at the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Seven percent said they would choose a write-in candidate, 5% said they would vote for Tudor Dixon, a former business owner and broadcaster from Muskegon County, and 1% said they would choose Farmington Hills pastor Ralph Rebandt.
Asked if they thought President Joe Biden “stole” the November 2020 election from former President Donald Trump — as Trump and his supporters have claimed without substantiation — 61% of poll respondents said they thought the election was stolen and 22% said Biden won fair and square. Seventeen percent were undecided or declined to answer.
Twenty-six percent of those polled thought believing the election was stolen would help the Republican candidate win the general election in November and 18% said it wouldn’t. Forty-four thought it wouldn’t affect the election either way. Twelve percent were undecided or declined to answer.
Asked whether it was more important to them to vote for someone who shared their views or someone who could beat incumbent Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, 51% of respondents said they wanted someone who shared their views and 43% it was more important that the candidate could beat Whitmer. Six percent were undecided or declined to answer.
The Republican primary race was thrown into upheaval when the state election bureau said five of the 10 candidates’ campaigns had submitted a number of fraudulent signatures in their petitions to run. All five were therefore left off the ballot. That included former Detroit police chief James Craig and Bloomfield Hills businessman Perry Johnson, who were considered frontrunners. On Tuesday, Craig filed to run as a write-in candidate. He’s also suing the company he hired to collect signatures.
The poll focused on people who tended to vote in Republican primaries. Of the 400 people surveyed, 87% identified themselves as Republicans, 7% as independents, 2% as Democrats and 2% were undecided or declined to answer. Seventy-three percent identified themselves as conservative, 19% as moderate, 2% as liberal and 6% were undecided or declined to answer.
Fifty-one percent of those polled were women and 49% men. Thirty-eight percent were older than 65, 31% were between 50 and 64, 20% were between 35 and 49 and 11% were between the ages of 18 and 34.
The Republican primary is Aug. 2. The winner will face Whitmer in the general election on Nov. 8.