LANSING, Mich. — Republican candidates for the Michigan Legislature have grown more attractive to voters over the last four months and a campaign swing here by President Obama on behalf of fellow Democrats could do more harm than good, according to a statewide survey of likely voters.
Voters also don’t think much of former Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz waging a campaign for governor as a political independent.
Asked if they plan to vote for Republican or Democratic candidates in upcoming state Senate and House races, Michigan voters are picking Republicans by a 28-20 percent margin, according to a survey conducted by Denno-Noor Research in partnership with The Rossman Group and The Perricone Group. The eight-point margin marks a significant gain for the GOP – in the November Quarterly Poll voters evenly split on the question with 25 percent opting for the Democratic candidate and 24 percent for the Republican. The number of voters who remain undecided rose slightly from 44 percent to 46 percent during that time.
All 148 seats in the Legislature are up for grabs this year. Republicans currently control the Senate by virtue of their 22-16 membership advantage. The House is controlled by Democrats who hold a 67-43 edge.
“Election Day is still a long way off, but while both give the GOP the nod, it is interesting to note that women voters are more likely than men to vote for Democrats – men come in at 29 percent GOP to 16 percent Democrat, women registered 26 percent GOP to 24 percent Democrat,” said Denno-Noor Research President Dennis Denno.
The survey participants also suggested that President Obama would be wise to spend his time in the White House rather than venture into Michigan in hopes of drumming up support for Democratic candidates for the Legislature. Forty-four percent of those polled said a presidential visit would be harmful (49 percent of men and 39 percent of women) compared with 33 percent who said it would be a boost (34 percent of women and 31 percent of men.).
“That’s all the more significant when you consider that Barack Obama carried Michigan by a decisive, 57-41 percent margin over Sen. John McCain less than 16 months ago,” said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, APR, CEO and founder of The Rossman Group. “It’s clear that the acrimonious bickering and partisan impasse in Washington over everything from jobs creation plans to health care reforms are having an impact on voter perceptions.”
Obama has visited Michigan just once as president. In mid-July he came to Macomb County Community College to tout his plan to bolster the number of college graduates to assume the more sophisticated jobs of the changing economy. The president is expected to travel to Ann Arbor on May 1 to deliver the commencement speech to University of Michigan graduates and receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.
The poll also found that voters are cool to former U.S. Rep. Schwarz campaigning for governor without using either major party label. Among those polled, 44 percent said they would be less likely to vote for the independent candidate for governor and 23 percent said the “independent” tag would enhance chances they would vote for the candidate.
Schwarz, 72, has spent 31 years in various local, state and federal offices. He was a member of the U-M football team; a Navy combat surgeon in Vietnam; a CIA spy in Southeast Asia; Battle Creek mayor; state senator; member of Congress; chairman of Sen. John McCain’s failed 2000 Michigan presidential campaign; and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the party’s 2002 gubernatorial nomination.
“Joe certainly has an intriguing resume, but the vast majority of Michigan voters haven’t shown much interest in flirting with independent candidacies,” said Perricone Group CEO and former Michigan Speaker of the House Chuck Perricone.
Methodology: This survey was part of the Rossman Group/Perricone Group/Denno Noor Polling Quarterly Survey of the Michigan electorate. 600 likely voters were interviewed from March 3 through March 5, 2010, with a margin of error of plus/minus 4%, and the participation was stratified based on census data and past voter behavior. A screen was used to include only those participants who said they would vote, either at the polls or by absentee ballot, in the November 2010 General Election. The margin of error for the partisan primary questions is plus/minus 7%. All numbers are rounded and may exceed 100%.
Attention Media: For attribution purposes, please recognize all three organizations that partnered in the poll:
•The Rossman Group
•The Perricone Group
Contact: Kelly Rossman-McKinney, 517-487-9320 Chuck Perricone, 269-758-3480 Dennis Denno, 517-402-2453 Mark Pischea, 517-487-9320