Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Polls Show Tightening in Michigan, Louisiana

In Senate on November 25, 2013 at 10:36 am

Michigan

Late last week, local Michigan pollster Denno Research released the results of their new poll in conjunction with Lambert, Edwards & Associates, also a Michigan-based firm (Nov. 12-14; 600 registered Michigan voters). They again detect a statistical tie for the state’s impending open US Senate race, projecting Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) to a mere 37-36 percent advantage.

This past July, Denno (July 23-24; 600 registered Michigan voters) contradicted most conventional political analyses. They reported then that the two major party candidates had fallen into a 39-39 percent tie. EPIC MRA, another Detroit area survey research firm, later published confirming numbers (Sept. 7-10; 600 registered Michigan voters; 38-37 percent Democratic edge). Up until that time, Peters was a presumed solid favorite over former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R).

This race is already becoming more competitive than was once believed likely, and multiple surveys recording ties or one point leads suggest that the Democrats’ hold on the retiring Sen. Carl Levin’s (D-MI) seat is tenuous at best. This, despite the Republican political leadership only reluctantly embracing Land as their consensus candidate after trying without success to recruit someone who they believed would be “stronger”.

Land is also exceeding expectations on the fundraising circuit. Though labeled a poor fundraiser, her first quarter as an official Senate candidate yielded over $1.05 million added to a self-contributed $1 million. Therefore, her receipts totaled $2.05 million with $1.93 million cash-on-hand. Peters, who has the reputation of being a proficient fundraiser, attracted $2.455 million for the race, entirely from other people, and reports $2.499 million in the bank. Therefore, the comparative resource count is also much closer than most observers would have believed at the beginning of the campaign.

Considering that the Michigan mid-term turnout model was highly favorable to Republicans in 2010, and that right-of-center outside groups will assuredly come into this race, for Republican conversion opportunities are few, the campaign has already arrived in Toss-up territory and must be regarded as an early GOP bright spot.

Louisiana

Opposite of Michigan, Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D) Louisiana Senate campaign has always factored heavily into the 2014 political outlook. Consistently listed as one of four incumbent seats where Republicans have a legitimate chance of unseating a veteran Democratic incumbent – despite Louisiana voters rarely, if ever, defeating a federal incumbent of either party – a new poll already puts the senator into dangerous territory.

New Orleans-based Southern Media & Opinion Research fielded a poll (released Nov. 21; 600 registered Louisiana voters, all of whom cast ballots in at least three elections during the past four years) that finds Landrieu leading Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) just 41-34 percent, with Republican retired Air Force officer Rob Maness attracting 10 percent.

The latter percentage is an important figure because of Louisiana’s unique election system. In the Bayou State, all candidates are placed on one ballot for the November election and, if no person secures an outright majority, the top two, regardless of political party affiliation, must run-off in early December. Sen. Landrieu, who according to this poll already is falling into the low 40s, looks susceptible to again being forced into a second election. This happened in her original 1996 campaign, and first re-election (2002).

The poll also detected an upside-down job approval rating for Sen. Landrieu (46:51 percent favorable to unfavorable), and this is likely due to her position regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A full 54 percent of those questioned said they are less likely to support a candidate who voted for Obamacare.

It is very possible the manner in which ACA implementation unfolds over the next year could be the determining factor in this Louisiana Senate election. More data must be studied from different places to find if other races are being similarly affected.

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