Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

June 8, 2014

George Weeks: Governor, Senate races heat up

The past two weeks have been the most intense so far in the 2014 campaigns for governor and the U.S. Senate, especially in escalating TV-ads in the race to replace retiring six-term Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving senator.

In the last week of May, there were conflicting polls covering both races and the four top contenders made pitches at the widely reported 34th annual Mackinac Policy Conference of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

One of the Senate polls, commissioned by the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV, showed third-term U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, with a 44-38 percentage point lead (with 18% undecided) over Republican Terri Lynn Land of Byron Center, former secretary of state. Peters had a 14-percentage point advantage among women voters.

Peters’ overall advantage was only 4.3 percentage points in a poll for The Detroit News and WDIV-TV that had 39.6% for Peters, to Land’s 35.3% (23% undecided).

At this early stage in Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s bid for a second term, Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, former state legislator and one-term congressman from Battle Creek, has a name-ID problem and trails in polling, including 10 points behind in The Detroit News and WDIV-TV survey.

Citing the poll on May 27, the News said that within his own Democratic base, more than one third of voters from union households, according to pollster Richard Czuba, “don’t know who Mark Schauer is,” while 41 percent of Detroit voters have not heard of him and one-quarter of Detroit voters said they currently would vote for Snyder.

Czuba, president of the Glengariff Group, said: “That’s a big problem for a candidate five months out and your base doesn’t know who you are yet.”

Maybe a current problem but one that—given how interest-group money tends to pour into late campaign ads—can be overcome.

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