Democratic Congressman Gary Peters has built a commanding 15 percentage point lead over Republican Terri Lynn Land in the U.S. Senate race, according to a new statewide poll conducted exclusively for The Detroit News and WDIV-TV.
In a poll of 600 Michiganians who plan to vote on Nov. 4, Peters led 48 percent to 33 percent over Land, a former two-term secretary of state, with 12 percent of voters remaining undecided and the rest breaking for third party candidates who have not been a factor in the race.
Peters, a Bloomfield Township Democrat, has expanded his lead this month over the former two-time secretary of state. The survey has a margin of error of plus-minus four percentage points.
"This has just completely gotten away from Terri Land," said pollster Richard Czuba, president of the Glengariff Group.
Land's biggest problems may be with voters who say they identify as political independents or lean toward Republican candidates. About 23 percent of leaning Republicans say they support Peters, while 50 percent back Land and 16 percent are undecided.
In comparison, 62.5 percent of leaning Republicans favor Gov. Rick Snyder, 59 percent back Attorney General Bill Schuette and 64 percent supporting Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Land's successor.
Peters holds a commanding 23-point lead among independents, though nearly 27 percent of that group of voters say they haven't made up their minds.
"Centrist voters have essentially said 'absolutely no' to Terri Lynn Land," Czuba said.
Peters holds double-digit leads among key demographic areas as well, including 19 percentage points in Metro Detroit and 13 points in outstate areas of Michigan. In Land's home turf of west and southwest Michigan, she is losing by 7 percentage points, according to the poll.
In a campaign that featured more than $32.3 million in TV ads through the end of September, voters' views of Land have been low. In this new poll, 48 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of Land — twice her favorable rating.
"When your name ID is underwater by two-to-one, you have far, far bigger problems in terms of a successful campaign," Czuba said.
The Peters campaign sought to characterize Land's sagging poll numbers as a result of the support she got from groups connected to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch that spent $5.8 million earlier in the year attacking Peters. The congressman has received advertising support from a group formed by billionaire hedge fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer.
"On Election Day, Michiganders will send a clear message when they reject Land and the Koch Brothers," Peters campaign Zade Alsawah said in a statement. "This U.S. Senate seat is not for sale."
Land's campaign struck a positive tone Monday in response to the new polling numbers.
"Michigan voters are excited to elect Terri Lynn Land to the U.S. Senate because she will put Michigan first," Land spokeswoman Heather Swift said. "Congressman Gary Peters on the other hand will put everyone but Michigan first, by supporting the job-killing policies of President Obama and Senator Reid including cap-and-trade and opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline."
Land, whose family owns a large real estate business in west Michigan, has poured $2.9 million of her own money into her campaign. Her father, Paul Land, has contributed $950,000 over the past two months to the Ending Spending Political Action Committee, according to a campaign finance report filed last week.