Tudor Dixon's Chances of Beating Whitmer as Abortion Riles Up Voters: Polls

A new Michigan poll shows increased support for the state's Democratic gubernatorial candidate amid the national focus on reproductive rights ahead of the midterm elections.

The new poll by Lansing-based research firm EPIC-MRA shows incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer holding an 11-point lead over Republican challenger Tudor Dixon, 50 percent to 39 percent, with 11 percent of the approximate 600 statewide survey respondents remaining undecided.

The Supreme Court's overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision on June 24 has riled up pro-choice voters in races nationwide, galvanizing voters around Democratic candidates that prior to the High Court's ruling may have been limping toward November due to record-high levels of inflation and an uncertain economy.

Addressing abortion laws in Michigan following the Roe v. Wade decision was identified as respondents' biggest issue (19 percent), followed by improving the quality of education (15 percent) and upgrading infrastructure (14 percent).

When asked if they would vote "yes" for a constitutional amendment protecting abortion, 62 percent of respondents said they would. In total, 58 percent of respondents identified themselves as supporters of abortion rights and 33 percent identified as anti-abortion.

A major sign of shifting attitudes was also evident August 2 in Kansas, where over 61 percent of voters resoundingly supported the upholding of a 2019 ruling granting a fundamental right to abortion statewide and blocking Republican legislators from banning or restricting access. The fight has led to a lawsuit by the Biden administration against Idaho over its strict abortion laws.

Tudor Dixon Abortion Governor Poll
Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who is seen at her primary victory party in August, has made headlines with her stance on abortion. A new poll shows Dixon 11 points behind incumbent Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, with other polls showing smaller gaps. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Whitmer received support from 94 percent of Democratic respondents, and had an advantage of 50 percent to 22 percent from independents—including support from 62 percent of independent women. Dixon was supported by 83 percent of GOP voters.

The abortion ballot proposal is supported by 92 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents. Republicans voted "no" on that same proposal by a 46 percent to 40 percent plurality.

Dixon, who was endorsed in her primary by former President Donald Trump, is also endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan—which calls her "a strong pro-life leader who possesses the ability to lead Michigan towards being a life-affirming state."

Her stance on reproductive rights, including no exceptions in cases of rape or incest but support of a mother at risk, have been widely publicized—including recent comments in which she said a 14-year-old rape victim not aborting her child could lead to a "bond" and "healing through that baby."

James Blair, chief strategist for the Dixon campaign, told Newsweek via email that the race is closer than the above poll indicates, mentioning other polls conducted by Trafalgar Group and AARP Michigan that show Whitmer with 4- and 5-point leads, respectively.

"These are reputable pollsters with a record of getting Michigan right," Blair said. "This comes after millions of dollars in attack ads have been spent by Whitmer distorting Tudor Dixon's position. Gretchen Whitmer is simply trying to change the conversation to anything other than her record, because her record is terrible. Jobs are down, reading scores are down, the roads are worse, crime is up, and inflation is through the roof."

The EPIC-MRA poll was conducted between August 18 and 23 via live interviews, including 70 percent of interviews done via cellphone, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Newsweek reached out to Whitmer for comment.