Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stabenow leads Hoekstra

Debbie Stabenow starts her race for reelection against Pete Hoekstra in a pretty good position, leading 50-41. That's similar to where she stood the last time PPP polled Michigan in March. At that time her advantage over Hoekstra was 50-38.

The key for Stabenow is that she has Democrats lined up almost 100% behind her. She leads Hoekstra 90-4 with voters of her own party. In a Presidential year in Michigan there are going to be a lot more Democrats voting than Republicans. That means for a Republican to win statewide requires some combination of meaningful crossover support from Democratic voters and a large victory with independents. Hoekstra actually does lead Stabenow 44-38 with independents but he needs a much wider advantage than that if he's only going to get 4% of the Democratic vote. Stabenow's winning 8% of Republicans to that 4% Hoekstra's getting from Democrats- it would be impossible for a GOP candidate who lost more Republicans than they won Democrats to win in Michigan.

Stabenow's approval ratings are about average for a Senator right now- 46% of voters like the job she's doing to 40% who disapprove. That's pretty much identical to our March poll when it was 46/39 and up a little bit from our December poll when it stood at 41/40. Stabenow does poorly with independents (37/47) but she's got more Republicans (15%) who like her than there are Democrats (12%) who dislike her.

There are other Republicans running but none of them are as competitive with Stabenow as Hoekstra- Randy Hekman trails by 16 points at 52-36, John McCulloch is down 20 at 52-32, and Peter Konetchy is down 21 at 52-31. None of that trio of Republicans hopefuls has greater than 23% name recognition. Hoekstra is a blank slate to many voters as well, with 39% holding no opinion about him. Those who do split pretty evenly in their assessments with 31% rating him favorably to 30% who have a negative view of him.

Hoekstra's decision to run certainly gives Republicans a credible candidate in this race. But he's still a long shot and if he wins it's likely going to be the product of a Republican landslide year that results in the party coming away with something in the neighborhood of 55 Senate seats. Think about it this way- Stabenow is stronger in the state than Barack Obama is. Obama won Michigan by 16 points in 2008- he would probably need to shift about 20 points in the wrong direction, losing the state by 4-6 points, to pull Stabenow down with him. Obama's numbers aren't very good right now but they haven't plummeted to that point.

Full results here


wt said...

It's very rare for an incumbent Senator to run behind the presidential nominee. Torricelli is one, but the exception proves the rule.

That said, I don't think it's possible to pass judgment on either race without a strict likely voter screen. Michigan is one state where that makes a fairly large difference, I think.

Anonymous said...

Romney leads in MI by 5 points among likely voters. So Stabenow is in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Hoekstra is not going to do well once people get educated on him. 18 year incumbent, voted for TARP and autobailout. Folks aren't too keen on hand-picked establishment candidates. Pete already lost once because the voters rejected his insider status.

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