Mash-up in Michigan Aug25

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Mash-up in Michigan

U.P & the upper Mitten: Michigan CD1-Gary McDowell (D) vs. Dan Benishek (R)

This is one of the most intriguing districts we’ve ever polled. Frankly, political party labels seem to not mean much in this geographically enormous district. Conservative Democrat Bart Stupak made headlines before, during and after the health care reforms vote when he was heavily courted by both sides of the issue. Although the district’s reaction to health care reforms was decidedly negative, Stupak came out of the fray smelling like a rose thanks largely to his negotiations for a pro-life executive order concerning the initiatives (Click HERE). Despite those positive numbers, Stupak decided to call it quits, leaving this district that is split between the U.P. (Upper Peninsula for you left & right coasters) and the northern tier of the Mitten (Lower Peninsula) up for grabs.

Even before Stupak announced his retirement, Republican Dan Benishek was on the campaign trail–which turns out to be  fortunate for him since he won his primary by a razor-thin 15 votes. Benishek embraces the more conservative part of the political spectrum and has sidled up to local Tea Party Movement types and campaigned with Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher at his side. His conservative Democratic opponent is Gary McDowell, is a state representative and former UPS driver. Those blue-collar roots, his U.P. locale and ties with local labor groups make Democrats believe that this race will tighten up considerably. We agree. His opponents will undoubtedly paint Benishek as one of those guys who will only fly on a plane that has two right wings while pointing out their own guy’s strong pro-life, anti-tax views. But will that be enough?

It should be noted that this poll was taken just a day after the Michigan primary when Benishek’s victory was believed to be by a single vote. That certainly gave Dr. Benishek (he’s a surgeon) a nice boost in the media.

Here are the results:

Michigan CD 1

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,016 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.07%
 
 
AFFILIATION
 
 
TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(R) Dan Benishek44.75%12.80%77.88%40.74%
(D) Gary McDowell28.72%68.86%4.36%17.95%
Other/Unsure26.53%18.34%17.76%41.31%

Again, the timing of this poll should strongly be taken into consideration in this race. Even so, Benishek shows sizable support among the Independents in MI-1, but not enough to make McDowell and his followers believe that this one is over.

We’ve already put MI-1 near the top or our list of Races to Watch.

The Energizer Bunny: Michigan CD 3 – Justin Amash (R) vs. Patrick Miles (D)

Conventional wisdom has it that the retirement of Republican Congressman Vern Ehlers from this solidly GOP district would not put the district in play unless the Grand Old Party elected a candidate that was too conservative. Enter young Justin Amash–about as conservative as you can get, and an upset winner in this district’s primary over a local establishment favorite. Democrats rejoiced…but perhaps prematurely, as Amash is successfully using new media and his Energizer Bunny-level high-tech work ethic to cut a wide swath through this district. Democrat newcomer Patrick Miles, though, has excellent credentials (he was a classmate of Barack Obama’s at Harvard Law) and should be able to keep up or surpass his opponent in fund raising according to local sources. Miles isn’t exactly ancient…he’s 42 and has some very favorable media mentions over the past few months.

Like Illinois’ Aaron Schock four years ago, Amash’s youth (he’s 30 but looks younger) and surprise big win in a crowded primary gave the Republican a lot of ink the day we conducted this poll. Let’s see the results:

Michigan CD 3

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,006 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.09%
 
 
AFFILIATION
 
 
Other/Unsure19.00%14.17%14.07%28.75%
TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(R) Justin Amash50.52%12.50%79.90%42.50%
(D) Pat Miles30.48%73.33%6.03%28.75%

As in MI-1, time will tell whether Amash is too far to the right to weather the coming storm in MI-3. But for now, Democrat Miles has his work cut out for him. He needs to find a way to catch fire if this district is going to change Party hands.

Rematch: Michigan CD 7 – Incumbent Mark Schauer (D) vs. Tim Walberg (R)

Congressman Mark Schauer (D) appears to be in a classic Blue-Dog position in this race. Elected in 2008 with the assistance of Barack Obama’s success, Schauer has since suffered the slings and arrows from the aftermath of his votes for the locally unpopular bailout and health care reforms (click HERE).  As in the other two districts we’ve profiled today, Democrats will try to paint his opponent, former U.S. Representative Tim Walberg, as too extreme and point to his association with free-trade groups as a dangerous in a state that continues to reel from a continuous stream of job-loss haymakers. Walberg’s experience in Constitutional law is favored by local Tea Party Movement types, and has never stopped running since his defeat two years ago. Let’s look at the poll results:

Michigan CD 7

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,008 3.09%
 
 
AFFILIATION
 
 
TotalDemocratRepublicanIndependent
CONGRESS CHOICE
(D) Mark Schauer37.40%79.86%6.62%28.77%
(R) Tim Walberg44.90%11.95%80.46%41.92%
Other/Unsure17.71%8.19%12.91%29.32%

This district trends slightly Republican, and no one is predicting anything but a close, hotly contested campaign that could be a nail biter until the end. Since Schauer and Walberg faced each other in 2008, both have had the last two years to sharpen their tongues and rhetoric.

Fasten your seatbelts, folks…we’re in for a bumpy ride.

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