If you read only one “I hope this is true because I really want it to be true” poll today, let it be this one.
To gauge Ritchie’s chances in a hypothetical general election matchup, Delphi Analytica conducted a poll from July 14-18 of 668 Michigan residents. Of respondents who stated a preference between Debbie Stabenow and Robert Ritchie, 54% stated they would vote for Ritchie while 46% said they would vote for Debbie Stabenow. These results could indicate that Ritchie is a popular figure in Michigan, Debbie Stabenow is unpopular, or some combination of concurrent trends. The relatively large, 44%, number of undecided respondents may be due to the early stages of the campaign.
Michigan, once part of the Democrats vaunted “Blue Wall” is suddenly a battleground where Democrats and Republicans are now fighting for blue collar voters. This became a central theme during the 2016 election season, where Donald Trump won over the white working class vote. The question now is whether that support will rub off onto other Republicans candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. Robert Ritchie looks to capitalize on this fervor and promote his brand with song lyrics that appeal to these same Michigan voters, despite never having held any political office.
If you include undecideds, it’s Ritchie 30, Stabenow 26, undecided 44, a fascinating result that jibes with the plentiful warnings in political media over the past 10 days not to count Kid Rock out if he runs. He has high name recognition, boatloads of dough, a populist image that makes him well-suited to the Age of Trump (both men were born wealthy despite their blue-collar appeal), and enough of a lifetime presence in his home state to make him formidable. Whether he could beat incumbent Debbie Stabenow is debatable; whether he could win a Republican primary, well, there’s no doubt about it:
Ritchie, who already boasts a huge and devoted following, has sold tens of millions of albums and amassed what he calls “f*** you money”—enough of it, in fact, that he has given seven-figure sums to charity and capped ticket prices to his concerts at $20 to make them accessible to working-class fans. Meanwhile, he’s earned a reputation in his native southeast Michigan as someone who is earnest when it comes to civic involvement, helping local businesses and headlining major philanthropic events. When Mitt Romney asked for his endorsement ahead of the pivotal Michigan primary in 2012, Ritchie invited him to his Metro Detroit home and peppered him with a list of policy questions, sleeping on the decision before informing Romney the next day he would support him…
“Presuming Kid Rock doesn’t get caught in bed with a little boy, or beat up a woman between now and August 2018, he’s going to win the nomination if he gets in,” says Dennis Lennox, a Republican political consultant in Michigan. “I think there’s no question about that. I think he’s the prohibitive favorite if he gets in.”
Back to that poll. It comes from “Delphi Analytica,” not a household name in the polling world. The company’s website appears to be brand new, containing just one other post besides the Kid Rock poll. There’s no contact information on the site either. Could be that it’s a perfectly legit survey from a fledgling outfit that’s looking to make its mark and (smartly) chose Kid Rock’s candidacy to focus on this week, but some of America’s leading data nerds are urging caution:
Folks, be careful retweeting polls from pollsters you've never heard of. It's easy to start a website, post a fake "poll" and get clicks.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) July 24, 2017
Especially websites that were started 2 weeks, don't have a phone # on it, people listed on it, weighted mechanisms, whether internet/phone. https://t.co/dzo6AlKsNK
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) July 24, 2017
Tony Fabrizio, a veteran Republican pollster, is skeptical:
Not real! You don't get such a high undecided when both candidates are fairly well known. https://t.co/igkvaCWKeY
— Tony Fabrizio (@TonyFabrizioGOP) July 24, 2017
Good point, although Kid Rock probably wouldn’t be well known to voters over age 50, leaving a bunch of undecideds among older Michigan voters Then again, in a bluish state, an incumbent like Stabenow should do better against an unknown Republican than 26 percent, right?
Ah well. There are more polls to come on a hypothetical Rock/Stabenow race from brand-name pollsters. File this one away as an early data point. Exit question: Er, what’s the case for backing Kid Rock over John James, the impressive Michigan Republican running for Senate who’s featured in the ad below? Exit answer: In a blue state, KR has a better chance of bumping off a Democratic incumbent than a deserving but little-known challenger like James does.
— John James (@JohnJamesMI) July 18, 2017