Clinton vs. Trump (vs. others): Many Michigan voters remain undecided

Jul 19, 2016

If you live in Michigan and haven't decided which presidential candidate you'll vote for this November, you're far from alone.

A recent poll conducted by the Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group shows a staggering 32% of Michigan voters have yet to settle on a candidate.

That's bigger than the share of voters supporting the current leader, Hillary Clinton. The presumptive Democratic nominee currently holds an advantage over Republican nominee Donald Trump, as she claimed support from 34% of the 800 likely voters MRG surveyed. Trump registered 29% support. 

"... there's twice as many people that are uncommitted at this point in time."

"We really wanted to find out how many people just still haven't committed to either one of these two candidates," said Tom Shields, MRG's executive director. "As a comparison, four years ago, 84% of the vote was hard commitment to either Romney or Obama in September. So there's twice as many people that are uncommitted at this point in time. Maybe that'll change as we get into the conventions, but I don't think so."

Other recent Michigan polls also show Clinton holding a narrow lead.

A CBS/YouGov poll has Clinton leading Trump 42-39 among likely voters, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson earning 5% of the vote and Green Party candidate Jill Stein earning 2%. 

The higher proportion of undecided voters in MRG's poll is likely a product of the firm's decision not to ask which way voters leaned if they were uncomfortable committing firmly.

Instead, MRG only took into account voters who were more confident which box they'll be checking. That was a decision made in response to a unique and largely unprecedented election, Shields said, in which still-uncommitted voters are uncommitted for a reason: They find both of the mainstream options unappealing.

MRG isn't the only polling provider to have found an unusually high level of uncommitted voters, either.

A recent Gravis Marketing poll shows similar numbers in the four-way race: Clinton at 37%, Trump at 34% and 26% of voters choosing an "other" option instead of Clinton, Trump, Johnson or Stein.  

"Four months out, it's tough to determine who really is going to be a voter or not."

"Ten percent of the independent voters said that they would not vote if these were the two choices," Shields said of MRG's poll. "That may change. Four months out, it's tough to determine who really is going to be a voter or not. These people were pulled from a likely voter list, so they have a history of voting to begin with normally they would vote in a presidential year." 

Another factor complicating the race, according to Shields, is that Trump and (to a lesser extent) Clinton are struggling with a substantial portion of their own party's base. Most female Republican voters, for instance, have a negative view of Hillary Clinton and are unlikely to vote for her, but MRG's data shows 37% of them remain undecided. 

That's because Trump has been unable to seal the deal with the female, right-wing electorate, Shields said. Clinton, for her part, has faced similar issues among Democrats. 

"There could be a chance [the undecided voters] just don't vote," Shields said.