Republicans don’t need to win Michigan to get the majority in the Senate, but the Wolverine State could become a serious takeover target later next year.
After more than three decades, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin announced that he would not seek re-election. Instead of competitive primaries filled with ambitious candidates, it looks like both parties have settled on their nominees for next fall. At this point, the general election looks like it will be between Democratic Rep. Gary Peters and Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
Early public polling shows a competitive race with both candidates lacking statewide name identification. A September EPIC-MRA poll showed Peters ahead, 38 percent to 37 percent. A mid-October automated survey from the Democratic Public Policy Polling firm had the congressman with a larger advantage, 43 percent to 36 percent. And a recent automated survey by the Revsix, a Republican firm, and Michigan Blueprint Strategies, a Democratic firm, for Inside Michigan Politics also had Peters leading a general election ballot test, 43 percent to 38 percent.
Democrats start the general election with the advantage. Republicans have only won one of the past dozen Senate races in Michigan, and that was in 1994. But 1994 was also the last time Michigan saw an open Senate seat.
Land should become a credible candidate who could take advantage of another favorable GOP environment, should one develop. But she is also running from a state office that hasn’t traditionally been a launching pad for the U.S. Senate.
Make no mistake, Peters has shown remarkable political agility and starts this race with the edge, but this open seat should no longer be considered safe. You can read a full analysis of the race in the recent November 7 edition ($) of The Rothenberg Political Report.