Despite Trump’s calls for residents of Michigan to “liberate” themselves against stay-in-place policies implemented by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a recent poll shows greater support and approval for Whitmer’s response to the coronavirus than the president’s among citizens of The Great Lakes State.
The poll, conducted by the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Glengariff Group, found that Trump’s net-approval rating on how he’s responded to the spread of COVID-19 was in negative territory, with 44 percent approving of his work and 50 percent saying they disapproved.
Whitmer, meanwhile, is widely approved by her constituents, according to the poll. Only 37 percent disapprove of her response to coronavirus so far, with 57 percent saying they are happy with her actions in trying to quell the spread of the disease.
The Michigan governor, a Democrat who won office two years after Trump yielded an upset victory from the state in the 2016 presidential election, responded to protests that were happening in her state over the weekend, arguing that restrictions related to the stay-in-place order she made were necessary and that calls to “reopen” the economy would endanger residents.
“People are struggling with this isolation that we have, you know, on top of all of the other stressors,” Whitmer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But the fact of the matter is we have to be really smart about how we proceed.”
Michigan has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. So far, according to tracking from The New York Times, close to 2,400 individuals in the state have died from the disease, making Michigan the third-highest state in terms of the number of people who have perished.
The president and the governor have not always seen eye-to-eye on how to address the spread of the disease, and at times Trump has singled her out in his criticism of governors across the country. While speaking to reporters in late March, discussing how he had told Vice President Mike Pence not to interact with governors who weren’t “appreciative” of the White House’s efforts on the pandemic, Trump propped Whitmer up as an example of someone he was not happy with.
“Don’t call the woman in Michigan,” Trump said he told Pence.
Trump, who is widely known for holding grudges, may have ulterior political reasons for targeting Whitmer specifically during the crisis. In early February, Whitmer delivered the Democratic Party’s response to his State of the Union Address, in which she decried the Republican Party’s efforts to undo parts of the Affordable Care Act, and brought up Trump’s continuous bragging of economic indicators that may not matter that much to everyday people.
“It doesn’t matter what the president says about the stock market,” Whitmer said in her response. “What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don’t have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans, or prescription drugs.”
Whitmer is also considered to be on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s “short list” for his pick for vice president — another reason why Trump may harbor ill feelings toward her.