DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, riding a wave of popularity he has built up over three decades, rolled to another six-year term Tuesday by winning his latest re-election bid.
The Detroit Democrat defeated Republican challenger Jack Hoogendyk to extend his reign as the longest serving U.S. senator in Michigan history.
The call was based on an analysis of voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
Levin was particularly strong among female voters, black voters and voters between the ages of 18 and 29. He was getting about seven of every 10 votes from those who described themselves as moderates and about six of every 10 votes from those who described themselves as independents.
Levin -- a former factory worker, taxi driver, lawyer and Detroit city councilman -- has built upon his guy-next-door appeal and popularity since he first entered the Senate in 1979. He didn't have to campaign much for himself against the underfunded Hoogendyk, instead spending his time talking about the presidential race and propping up Michigan's Democratic candidates for Congress.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunity to represent Michigan," Levin told The Associated Press Tuesday night. "But it will be a very short-lived celebration because of the challenges we face. We'll get right back to work on those challenges."
Hoogendyk, a relatively unknown 53-year-old state House member from Kalamazoo County's Texas Township, was forced to run a low-budget campaign and never found a high-volume way to reach voters. Lacking the cash for a TV commercial, he settled for self-produced segments on YouTube and a few radio ads.
National and state groups supporting Republicans did nothing to help Hoogendyk raise his public profile. He had raised only $262,326 for his campaign as of mid-October, compared to $7.8 million for Levin.
Hoogendyk said he felt he had a message and a record that would have connected with voters if his campaign had been able to generate enough cash to promote it.
"When you're running against somebody who everybody knows, it's difficult," Hoogendyk told the AP.
Levin, the 74-year-old chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he wants another six-year term because he feels the nation is at a critical crossroads with a struggling economy and ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Levin bashed President Bush often during the last eight years and continued to do so on the campaign trail. From football tailgates to formal debates, Levin talked about the prospects of a fresh start for U.S. policy related to the economy, taxes and military conflicts.
The economy dwarfed all other issues in the Senate race. Michigan has spent much of the past three years with the nation's highest unemployment rate and ranked second only to Rhode Island in September.