The Democrats have salivated over the historic trend of midterms, hoping to gain enough seats in both chambers of Congress to wrest control away from the Republicans. However, a series of polls shows that their hopes in the Senate may come to naught as they may prove unable to hold the seats they already have. The latest to show weakness is Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, where anti-incumbent fervor and a lackluster record have threatened her first-term seat:
The fever among voters to throw incumbents out of office — furiously stoked by Democrats in Washington — might backfire in this state, where Republicans are riding a surge of voter discontent.
With Democrats holding both Senate seats and the governor’s mansion, Michigan is suffering the worst economy of any state in the nation. The state’s unemployment rate is nearly twice the national average of 4.7 percent, and the auto industry is losing jobs by the tens of thousands. A recent job fair offering factory work for $10 an hour with no benefits drew 4,000 applicants.
“They’re Democrats, but they want jobs,” John Katinsky said of his neighbors in this hard-hit town downriver from Detroit.
Much of the discontent is being directed at Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the first-term senator who is trying to fend off a challenge from Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. “Only one state in America has lost jobs for three straight years and that’s Michigan,” Mr. Bouchard says. “That needs to change, and it’s going to change by starting with the leadership.”
The Washington Times reports that Bouchard has been buoyed by polling that shows Stabenow unable to breach the 50% mark, usually considered a sign that an incumbent seat is in play. Rasmussen, however, shows Stabenow with 51% at the end of August, which may have changed somewhat after the campaigns kicked into gear in gear. Real Clear Politics, now with its excellent interface and association with Time Magazine, shows more recent polling that still indicates that Bouchard has a long way to go.
If Bouchard — a Rightroots candidate — can make this a competitive race down the stretch, it will tax Democratic fundraising that they would prefer to use in takeaway races. It will add to the Democratic woes in New Jersey and Maryland, where Democratic seats are at serious risk of falling to the GOP. Michael Steele led in the SurveyUSA poll by a point, but the RCP aggregate shows him a few points back. Thomas Kean has done even better against incumbent Democrat Robert Menendez in the Garden State, where the RCP aggregate and most polling put him ahead but within the margin of error.
The Democrats cannot afford to lose any of these seats if they hope to win control of the upper chamber in November. If they cannot hold back the Republican challenges, they will have to put their efforts into defense in these states.
NOTE: Don’t forget to visit the Rightroots web site and contribute to the key races that can help the Republicans retain control of Congress. We’ve raised over $123,000 so far, and we need to keep pushing to get support to the races that count. Michael Steele, Mike Bouchard, and Thomas Kean are all on our spotlight list, so you can help them directly and immediately.