Mark Schauer and Gov. Rick Snyder )
Gov. Rick Snyder continues to lead Democratic challenger Mark Schauer in a new statewide poll, but one political handicapping publication has deemed the race more competitive than expected.
A statewide survey of likely voters commissioned by Vanguard Public Affairs found Snyder leading Schauer by 8.6 percentage points, 43.3 percent to 34.7 percent. Denno Research surveyed 600 likely voters through telephone interviews that reached a 20 percent sample of residents on cellphones, with the poll having a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.
But Snyder’s favorability rating with the electorate remains under 50 percent, an elusive statistic that has emerged in other statewide polls this year. Candidates with poll numbers below 50 percent are typically viewed as being vulnerable since they haven’t gained the support of at least half of the voting public.
Approximately 44.6 percent of voters surveyed said they have a favorable view of the governor, while 39.5 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of him.
Schauer, a former one-term congressman from Battle Creek, has to make a better case for why voters should fire Snyder, said T.J. Bucholz, president and CEO of Vanguard Public Affairs in Lansing.
“It’s not enough to say Gov. Snyder is bad,” said Bucholz, a Democrat. “He’s got to make a case of what he’ll do when he takes the governor’s chair.”
Bucholz added: “If Mark Schauer cannot pull within the margin of error by Labor Day, it will certainly be an uphill battle for Democrats to claim the governor’s seat.”
The results were released as pundits at RealClearPolitics.com on Tuesday changed their outlook on the governor’s race from “lean Republican” to the “toss up” category with other gubernatorial races in Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin and four other states.
Vanguard’s poll also found Michigan’s U.S. Senate race between Republican Terri Lynn Land from the Grand Rapids area and Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township remains tight.
Peters led Land 39.5 percent to 37.3 percent, with 23.2 percent of likely voters remaining undecided, according to the poll.
Land is a former two-term secretary of state, while Peters represents Michigan’s 14th Congressional District in parts of Detroit and Oakland County.
Bucholz said the polling data show Land needs to come out of “hiding” if she’s going to stand a chance of becoming the first Republican in 20 years to win a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan.
“Terri Lynn Land needs to make her case to Michigan voters. She needs to tell us a little bit more about what she’s about,” Bucholz said. “Terri Lynn Land is not running to be dog catcher of a county. The U.S. Senate is serious business.”
Also Tuesday, another statewide poll in Michigan conducted by NBC News and the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion found Peters leading Land 43 percent to 37 percent. That poll had a 3.3 percent margin of error.
The NBC News/Marist poll also found a tighter race in the Michigan governor’s race, but it did not limit responses to those who said they were certain to vote.
After the poll came out, Schauer appeared Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.” Show host Chuck Todd asked Schauer what is Snyder’s fireable offense.
“This is a governor that cut a billion from public education, raised taxes on seniors and has produced one of the worst economies in the country,” Schauer said. “We need an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy, and that’s why this governor is extremely unpopular. He’s stuck in the mid-40s.”
Schauer used the cable TV appearance to criticize Snyder’s handling of Detroit’s bankruptcy, which the governor authorized a year ago this week.
“What this governor did was he is cutting pensions for Detroit police officers and firefighters, general Detroit retirees. They’re paying more for health care,” Schauer said. “We need a governor who’s going to be a real partner to the cities, making sure they have adequate revenue sharing payments, that we help eliminate blight, that we support public safety, that we rebuild infrastructure.”
Snyder campaign spokeswoman Emily Benavides Tuesday issued a statement criticizing Schauer’s prior complaints about Snyder’s role in Detroit’s bankruptcy.
“While the governor has lead a bipartisan effort to help Detroit,” she said, “Schauer chooses to resort to the same tired partisan attacks filled with rhetoric, but without tangible solutions.”
Bucholz said Snyder’s efforts to usher the city through bankruptcy while helping broker a “grand bargain” to limit cuts to pensions has had “some resonance” with likely voters.
“It demonstrates that he’s the adult in the room,” he said.
The sample of voters surveyed included 35 percent who identify as Democrats, 30.5 percent Republicans and 30.3 percent independents.