Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

New Michigan Data in Advance of Primary Day

In House, Polling on August 1, 2014 at 11:13 am

A series of polls were just released in anticipation of Tuesday’s Michigan primary. The state features some of the most important establishment versus Tea Party races, and the results could have a definitive impact upon national politics.

MI-3

A new Strategic National poll (July 29; 532 likely MI-3 GOP primary voters) still finds Tea Party-backed Rep. Justin Amash (R) holding a healthy lead over primary challenger Brian Ellis (R), an area businessman, but each candidate’s ability to turn out his vote will likely be the determining factor. According to Strategic, Amash continues to lead Ellis 51-31 percent, a 20-point margin that has been relatively consistent. But the challenger has the stronger turnout mechanism, the backing of virtually the entire Republican establishment, and the Michigan Right to Life organization.

The 3rd District is anchored in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area. Amash was first elected in 2010. Prior to running for Congress, he spent one term in the state House of Representatives.

MI-4

A rather unique pair of polls were released in the state’s north-central district. Two separate pollsters, Strategic National and Mitchell Research & Communications, simultaneously tested the 4th District Republican primary between state Sen. John Moolenaar and businessman and political donor Paul Mitchell. Both pollsters arrived at exactly the same conclusion: The race is a flat tie.

Strategic (July 29; 540 MI-4 GOP primary voters) finds both leading candidates attracting 35 percent support apiece while a third candidate, businessman and 2012 US Senate candidate Peter Konetchy, garners 11 percent.

Mitchell Research (July 29-30; 492 MI-4 GOP primary voters) sees the race in an almost identical light. While also forecasting Moolenaar and Paul Mitchell to be tied, this poll projects a 38-38 percent standing. Here, Konetchy pulls nine percent.

The MRC analysis points out that it is Moolenaar with the momentum, erasing a 23-point Paul Mitchell lead from an earlier Mitchell Research survey. The MRC analysis suggests that the endorsements of retiring Rep. Dave Camp (R) and attorney general and former 4th District Rep. Bill Schuette (R) helped Moolenaar close the gap.

Mitchell Research also gives the state senator a 10-point advantage among those voters who have already voted, or are planning to vote, absentee. Analyzing those saying they will vote in person on Election Day finds this group giving Paul Mitchell a four-point advantage. Therefore, as in all close primaries, the turnout and type of turnout will likely dictate the final outcome.

MI-11

No recent poll was conducted in this Detroit suburban Wayne and Oakland County district, but it appears a near certainty that establishment-backed attorney David Trott will defeat Tea Party freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R) on Tuesday. Trott has developed strong support within the district and recent polls were showing the challenger with a major lead, well into double-digits.

If this trend proves accurate, Bentivolio will join Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX-4) and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA-7) as incumbents to be denied re-nomination in 2014.

MI-14

The Democratic primary in the Detroit-anchored 14th District is again proving interesting. Rep. Gary Peters (D) is vacating the seat to run for the Senate, leaving this as an open seat.

The contest features three principal candidates, former Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13), Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs. Previously, other polls projected both Lawrence and Clarke to be holding leads at different points in time. Now, the Mitchell Research & Communications survey (July 28-29; sampling total not released) projects Hobbs to have surged to the front, leading Clarke and Lawrence 38-25-22 percent, respectively. A fourth candidate, teacher and Marine Corps veteran Burgess Foster, posts only two percent.

With so much movement among the candidates and each of the three at one point being in first place, there is an argument to be made that none of the contenders can be ruled out for winning the primary. If Mitchell Research is right in detecting that Hobbs is surging, he might be peaking at the right time and could jet past the other two. It is also likely that the final result might end in surprising fashion. The Democratic nominee will become the prohibitive favorite in the general election.

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