Can Romney win Michigan?

posted at 2:41 pm on March 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

No, this isn’t a rerun of the Republican presidential primaries or the 2012 general election — and we’re not talking about Mitt.  Rather, it’s his brother Scott who may soon vie for the US Senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Carl Levin, and the son of the former governor may end up battling against the most recent former occupant of the office. In a poll sponsored by Conservative Intelligence Briefing, Romney outpolls all other Republicans in the field and manages a dead heat against the top Democratic possibility, Jennifer Granholm:

In a hypothetical Republican Senate primary for the 2014 Michigan U.S. Senate race, Scott Romney (brother of Mitt) would begin the race as an early, though modest, front-runner   Romney leads with 26% followed by Congressman Mike Rogers at 17%, Congressman Justin Amash at 11% and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land at 9%. …

Democrats hold a +4% advantage on the generic ballot for Senate (43%-39%), which closely follows the partisan breakdown of the poll: 41% Democratic, 38% Republican, 21% Other.  President Obama’s job approval among 2014 likely voters in Michigan is -4% (44% approve, 48% disapprove).

In general election match-ups  Granholm holds slim margins over the field of Republicans, ranging from +8% over Amash to +2% over Rogers.

Granholm can’t get outside of the margin of error against either Rogers, Land, or Romney, and even the eight-point lead against Amash might be a warning to Michigan Democrats.  After all, Granholm won statewide office while most of her opponents have not, and yet can’t get above 43% in matchups against any of them.  She only manages to get the lead over Amash due to his lack of recognition; only 18% know who the Congressman is.  As one of John McCain’s so-called “wacko birds” of the Tea Party, Amash might be Granholm’s preferred candidate, but his upside is a lot more significant than hers.  Her favorability is only 47/43, leaving only 10% to address, while Amash’s is 18/8 while unknown to 53%.

Scott Romney didn’t have a high profile in the presidential campaign, but Mitt’s older brother has been active in Michigan politics for some time.  In 2008, he lost his seat on the Michigan State University board of trustees after one term, but had tried originally to run for Attorney General in 1998.  That sparked an intraparty fight which Romney lost despite having the endorsement of Republican governor John Engler at the time; John Smietanka ended with the nomination, but lost to the Democrat.  Her name?  Jennifer Granholm.

Don’t underestimate Democratic power in Michigan, but if Granholm is the best they have, it might be a horserace no matter who Republicans nominate.  Don’t forget, too, that the recent change of Michigan to a right-to-work state will weaken union support.  Levin’s unexpected retirement should be a gift to the GOP.


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