Trump making small gains in Michigan, but Biden still leads in new statewide poll

President Donald Trump has made up a little bit of ground against his Democratic competitor after seeing his approval fall during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new state poll shows.

In a survey of 600 Michigan residents from July 25-30, 49% of respondents said they would definitely vote to replace Trump as president. That's 2 percentage points better than a survey conducted at the beginning of June when 51% of residents said they'd vote to replace Trump.

While former Vice President Joe Biden still maintains an 8 point lead over the president, it's not nearly as big as the 16 point lead that was reported two months earlier. The original poll was released around the same time COVID-19's outbreak had slowed in Michigan. 

Political analysts and pollsters often note that wide margins between political candidates tend to tighten as election day nears. That dynamic appears to be on display in EPIC-MRA's newest statewide poll. 

Michigan is expected to be one of the battleground states both Trump and Biden will fight hard to win. After voting for the Democratic candidate in several of the last elections, the state flipped red in 2016 by about 10,000 votes. 

The new survey was also the first to include the Libertarian Party candidate as an option for voters to choose. Three percent said they would either vote for or are leaning toward voting for Jo Jorgensen. 

Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed gave Trump negative marks for his handling of the coronavirus, which has killed almost 6,300 people in Michigan as of Aug. 7. That's 5 points better than the previous survey when 64% negatively assessed the president. 

Interestingly enough, while only 19% of those surveyed believed the country is on the right track, 50% said Michigan was on the right track. The state's COVID-19 totals are dwarfed by numbers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona. 

Also included in the new survey were questions regarding state views on the Black Lives Matter movement, which organized mass protests in early June that persisted well into the summer. Demonstrations against racial injustice have become one of the key issues of the 2020 presidential race following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis. 

Half of the respondents say they support Black Lives Matter, while 42% said they disapprove and 8% were undecided.

The entire survey has been placed below.