PPP's first likely voters poll in Michigan this year finds Barack Obama with a solid lead in the state, 51-44. That's down a good bit from our last registered voters poll in July which found Obama ahead 53-39. That's a reflection of the fact that the state could be looking at a very different electorate in 2012 than it had in 2008. We find that 34% of likely voters on this poll are Republicans compared to 33% who are Democrats. Exit polls last time showed 41% of voters as Democrats and just 29% as Republicans.
Nevertheless Obama still has a healthy lead. That reflects the fact that despite his ties to the state, Michigan voters just don't embrace Romney. Only 45% have a favorable opinion of him to 49% with an unfavorable one. They don't accept Romney as one of their own either- only 34% consider him to be a Michigander to 57% who do not.
One thing that's definitely not helping Romney in Michigan is the position he took on the auto bailout. 53% of voters think Obama has been better for the automotive industry in the state compared to only 31% for Romney. And this is something voters care about- 80% of voters say the candidates' record on the automotive industry is important to them, and 48% deem it to be 'very important.'
Each candidate has his party base pretty much locked up. Obama is winning 91% of Democratic voters, while Romney is taking 89% of Republican voters. Obama has the advantage overall thanks to a 54-38 lead with independents.
The other Republicans who had prime time speaking slots at the convention last week all fare pretty well with Michigan voters- Susana Martinez comes in at +18 (30/12), Marco Rubio at +13 (39/26), Chris Christie at +6 (37/31), and Paul Ryan at +5 (46/41).
One final note on Michigan- 52% of voters think Romney should release 12 years of his tax returns to 42% who think he should not. Among independents the breakdown is 59/36.
Full results here