Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters holds a 9-percentage point lead over Republican Terri Lynn Land in Michigan's hotly contested U.S. Senate race, according a new statewide poll conducted for The Detroit News and WDIV (Channel 4).

Peters led Land 44 percent to 35 percent in a survey of 600 likely voters, which had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

About 15 percent of likely voters said they remain undecided in a race to fill retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin's seat that could help decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate next year.

Land's Election Day vulnerabilities lie in southeast Michigan, where the congressman from Bloomfield Township holds a "commanding" 17.5 percentage-point lead among likely voters, 49.5 percent to 32 percent, said pollster Richard Czuba, president of the Glengariff Group Inc.

"Terri Lynn Land is getting walloped in southeast Michigan," Czuba said. "She is losing big down there."

About 40.7 percent of voters polled identified as Democrats, 38.2 percent said they tend to vote Republican and 19.5 percent said they are political independents.

Peters also holds a 17 percentage point lead over Land among female voters. Land is in a dead heat with Peters among male voters, 41 percent to 40 percent.

The Detroit News/WDIV survey in early September found Peters leading Land by 10.5 percentage points, making the new poll numbers statistically consistent, Czuba said.

"Despite being outspent two-to-one, this poll is further proof that Gary has all the momentum and Michiganders just aren't buying Terri Lynn Land's out of touch agenda," Peters spokesman Zade Alsawah said in a statement.

Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate race in Michigan since 1994. Polling in this year's race is following past trends that favor Democrats in statewide federal races, Czuba said.

In response to the new poll numbers, Land's campaign renewed its call for a debate with Peters after negotiations purportedly unraveled last week.

"Gary Peters knows this race is going to go down to the wire, that's why his campaign would rather debate about debates than actually face Michigan voters and debate the issues," Land spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement.

Schuette, Johnson lead

The poll also shows Attorney General Bill Schuette has built a 7-point lead over Democratic challenger Mark Totten, 39 percent to 32 percent. Last month, the Republican incumbent had a narrow 2-point lead over Totten, a Michigan State University law professor.

Schuette's campaign has recently been attacking Totten's resume.

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson also holds a 7-point lead over Democrat Godfrey Dillard, 39 percent to 32 percent. Just 25 percent of voters can identify Dillard, a Detroit attorney, while Johnson had 48 percent name identification among voters surveyed.

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