Michigan’s 15th CD has had a John Dingell in Congress since before most of its constituents were born, first with FDR’s inauguration in 1933 with John Sr., and then since 1955 with the current Representative, John Jr.  Now, according to a new poll reported by the Detroit Free Press, the “Dingell seat” may be going back to the people of MI-15.  Not only does Dingell trail in a survey of 300 likely voters in the district, he’s below 40%:

A new independent poll has the dean of the U.S. House, Rep. John Dingell, trailing his Republican opponent, Rob Steele, by 4 percentage points.

The automated phone survey of 300 people in the 15th Congressional District showed Steele getting 43.8% of the vote. Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat and the longest-serving member of Congress, got 39.5%. About 11% were undecided. The gap is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points. The poll was conducted Monday.

Dingell’s campaign said the survey — conducted by the Rossman Group of Lansing and Team TelCom — is a Republican front and is contradicted by other polls in recent weeks.

Team TelCom’s president Gary Reed has Republican ties, but Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO of the Rossman Group, has Democratic roots.

A sample of 300 is a little on the small side even for a House district poll, which is why the MOE is so high.  Even with that, though, Dingell still doesn’t get past 45%.  For an incumbent in office for 55 years — a stunning 28 terms in office for a seat handed to him by his father — that’s a big red flag that this seat could easily flip in less than four weeks.  His district knows him too well to buy any new arguments for his continued presence in Congress, and apparently they have warmed up to Rob Steele.  Having Steele ahead is certainly newsworthy, but the bigger takeaway here is just how badly Dingell polls in this race after almost 56 years in Washington.

Why?  In part, Michigan’s economic woes play into the national anti-incumbent mood.  The state has followed the same kind of economic plan that Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama have tried to implement on a national scale, and they’ve been doing it longer.  Michigan voters can see the end game even more clearly than voters nationwide, and it’s no surprise that Michigan might clean House in three weeks.  Part of it, though, is Dingell himself, who has a habit of saying foolish things, and saying them on national TV.

The Blog Prof wonders what it means when Dingell’s seat is no longer safe:

If Dingell isn’t safe in Detroit, is any Democrat safe anywhere?

Michigan’s 15th CD is a D+13 district, so the short answer is … perhaps, but in far fewer districts than they may have imagined.