Republican Rep. Fred Upton, the former House Energy and Commerce chairman, could be in for a competitive race in Michigan’s 6th District, a Democratic poll showed.
The poll, paid for by Upton’s opponent Matt Longjohn, showed Upton with a 5-point lead despite Longjohn’s low name recognition.
Forty-nine percent of those surveyed backed the incumbent compared to 44 percent who supported Longjohn in an initial head-to-head survey, according to the polling memo shared first with Roll Call.
Upton’s lead grew to 6 points when factoring in third-party candidate Stephen Young of the U.S. Taxpayers Party. Young took 3 percent, while 47 percent backed Upton and 41 percent supported Longjohn.
First elected in 1986, Upton had 82 percent name recognition. Survey respondents were split on their views of the longtime congressman, with 42 percent rating him favorably and 40 percent unfavorably.
Longjohn, a physician and former YMCA national health director, had a 22 percent favorable rating and 8 percent unfavorable. Only 30 percent of respondents recognized his name, so Democrats view the poll as a sign the race could tighten further once voters learn more about their candidate.
The survey also asked about “the health care bill that Republicans in Congress tried to pass last year,” and respondents did not have high opinions of the legislation. Thirty-one percent had a favorable view of the bill compared to 49 percent who rated it unfavorably. Upton, as a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, played a key role in the unsuccessful effort to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law last year.
The poll also found former President Barack Obama with a higher approval rating than President Donald Trump, whom the district backed by 8 points in 2016. Obama, who carried the seat in 2008 and narrowly lost it in 2012, had a 55 percent favorable rating compared to 43 percent unfavorable.
Trump’s rating was at 43 percent favorable to 52 percent unfavorable, the survey found.
Global Strategy Group surveyed 500 likely midterm voters from Aug. 24-29 through live telephone interviews with a mix of landline and mobile phones. The margin of error was 4.4 percentage points.