I sure hope this is for real. And it may be: Recall that James fell just six points short of formidable incumbent Debbie Stabenow last fall, on a night when Democrats were cleaning up in House races coast to coast. Also recall that a separate poll published last week found James trailing Gary Peters by three points, 43/40.
Now here comes a new one putting Peters and James less than a point apart.
Imagine if Democrats have a big night in the Senate next fall, picking up three net seats — and their dream of a Senate majority ends up in ashes because Gary “Who?” Peters couldn’t hold off James in supposedly blue Michigan.
In the Vanguard, Dennis, Pubic Sector Consultant poll last May it was Mr. Peters 42% and a generic Republican 36%. It is now 39.5% for Mr. Peters and 39.3% for Mr. James…
At this point in the campaign last year when Senator Debbie Stabenow took on Mr. James, she had a comfortable lead.
But he closed the gap on her and now she is saying, “this is a make or break race and we’re at a critical moment.”
She notes Mr. James raised more money than Mr. Peters in the third quarter but Peters continues to have more money in his coffers than the challenger.
How bad could it get theoretically for the GOP in November 2020? Well, start with the positive. No matter how poorly things go nationally, Alabama’s likely to dump Doug Jones for a Republican to be named later. That’s GOP +1. Assume James stuns Michigan by knocking off Peters, a big ask but not an impossible. That’s GOP +2, a total of 55 Senate seats — if all Republican incumbents hold their seats. And that’s really the best-case scenario. There are no other ripe pick-up opportunities for Republicans.
Things are different for Democrats. In Maine, one lefty poll has Susan Collins at 50 percent disapproval. In Colorado, Cory Gardner looks to be in trouble against John Hickenlooper. In Arizona, Mark Kelly is already ahead of Martha McSally. And in North Carolina, at least one poll taken last month shows Thom Tillis narrowly trailing his Democratic challenger. A Morning Consult survey of various battleground races published last week found slippage in the job approval of five different vulnerable GOP senators, with Joni Ernst sliding the furthest at nine points. That’s what the impeachment saga is apparently doing to Republicans. The good news is that impeachment will long since have ended by the time voters vote next fall. The bad news is that the GOP will doubtless be forced to defend Trump on other matters various and sundry by then, with the Ukraine matter lurking in the background of voters’ minds. How will that shake out?
In the ultimate worst-case scenario, Collins, Gardner, McSally, Tillis, and Ernst all get wiped out and maybe one or both of the Senate seats on the ballot in increasingly purple Georgia go the other way too. If that happened, it would mean a national disaster for the GOP, in which case John James — and Trump — are likely losers too. Conceivably, Democrats could have a net gain of five or six seats and control of the White House. Which would mean nothing would be standing in the way of Chuck Schumer nuking the filibuster and enacting President Warren’s “share the wealth” agenda. Gulp.
Trump’s job approval in Michigan, by the way, was 43/53 last month. It’s not unthinkable that James will run ahead of him on the ballot next fall; it happened in Florida in 2016, for instance, with Marco Rubio winning 200,000 more votes in his Senate race than Trump did in the presidential contest. If Trump can make Michigan as close in 2020 as he did in 2016, James could potentially win narrowly even if Trump loses narrowly. But a presidential job approval above 43 percent on Election Day would be … preferable, needless to say.