October 8, 2010 at 10:52 am

Dingell, Steele too narrow to call, poll shows

A new poll released late Thursday shows longtime U.S. Rep. John Dingell in a dead heat with Republican opponent Dr. Rob Steele in the race for the U.S. 15th District Congressional seat.

Dingell, the House's longest-serving member, is trailing the Ann Arbor cardiologist 39.5 to 43.8 with 11 percent undecided, signaling a statistical tie in a race that was once considered safe territory for Democrats. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percent.

“With more than 50 years of service in Congress, Dingell may be the poster boy for many dissatisfied voters who are gunning for incumbents this year,” said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, CEO and founder of The Rossman Group, which conducted the survey in partnership with Team TelCom.

“The Dean of the House will be tough to beat, but these numbers show that at this point, even The Dean is not immune to the anger that is brewing with the electorate,” Rossman-McKinney said in a statement.

Dingell’s campaign dismissed the results as “a GOP poll conducted by a firm with GOP ties masquerading as an independent poll.”

The campaign issued a statement from Fred Yang, a partner with the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, saying: “The only way for Rob Steele to be ahead of John Dingell is to assume a 15th Congressional District electorate that has a Republican advantage, which is not possible given the district’s partisan demographics.”Rossman-McKinney defended her firm’s conclusions.

“We are strictly a nonpartisan group,” she said.“We don’t do any work for any candidates, never have, never will.”

Dingell’s campaign pointed to a Detroit News/Local 4 WDIV poll released three weeks ago that shows Dingell leading by 19 points.

The Rossman/Team TelCom poll found that Dingell and Steele both carry about three quarters of their respective party supporters, but Dingell trails among independent voters.

Men prefer Steele by a 54.4 to 31.6 margin, while women choose Dingell 46.9 to 33.8 percent, according to the telephone poll conducted Monday of 400 likely voters.

“We’ve been hearing that people are tired of government spending and tired of career politicians, and they want a change,” said Steele’s campaign manager Mike Marzano.

mschultz@detnews.com

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