Sen. Debbie Stabenow “could be vulnerable” to a strong Republican challenger in 2012, a new poll from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling found.
The Michigan Democrat only narrowly led each of the Republicans PPP tested, but since no Republican has kicked off a campaign for the party’s nomination yet, the field is still wide open. The poll, taken Dec. 3 to 6, surveyed 1,224 Michigan voters and had a margin of error of 2.8 points.
There was a lot of upheaval in the Michigan delegation in 2010, despite not having a Senator up for re-election. Five Congressmen left the Congressional delegation.
Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra lost a primary bid for governor. Republicans replaced both Hoekstra and retiring Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R).
Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick lost a Democratic primary to state Sen. Hansen Clarke. Two seats went from Democratic control to Republican control: Rep. Mark Schauer lost a rematch with former Rep. Tim Walberg, and retiring Rep. Bart Stupak’s seat went to Republican Dan Benishek.
Hoekstra is the only one of the outgoing Members who seems like a logical choice to take on Stabenow, and he did best in the poll against her. Stabenow led the western Michigan Republican 45 percent to 44 percent. Fellow Rep. Candice Miller, first elected in eastern Michigan in 2002, trailed within the margin of error as well, the poll discovered. She got 41 percent to Stabenow’s 43 percent. Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and two other potential candidates performed less well but could still be competitive as the campaign progresses. Land trailed Stabenow by 4 points, while former Gov. John Engler trailed by 7 points and businessman Tim Leuliette was down 17 points.
Nonetheless, PPP found that Michigan voters aren’t enthusiastic about Stabenow’s performance in the Senate. Only 41 percent approved of her work, and 40 percent disapproved.
Stabenow could get help from President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. In the same PPP poll, Obama trailed only one potential Republican candidate, Michigan native and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.