Poll: Stabenow maintains double-digit lead over James in Senate race

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, left, and Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow maintains a double-digit lead over Republican opponent John James in her bid for a fourth term in the Senate, according to a new survey.

Stabenow, a Lansing Democrat, leads James by 18 percentage points, with nearly 53 percent of support, compared with James' 35 percent. About 10 percent of voters were undecided. 

The poll of 600 likely Michigan voters, conducted Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 for The Detroit News and WDIV, had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

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The results are similar to those of a poll conducted in the race in early September, when Stabenow had 55.5 percent of support to 33 percent for James, a Republican businessman and Iraq veteran from Farmington Hills. 

"We’re 35 days out from the election. This is the second poll now where she’s well above 50 percent, and it appears she is in a very solid position to win re-election again," said Richard Czuba, who conducted the poll for the Lansing-based Glengariff Group. 

It was striking to find Stabenow leading in both Metro Detroit (50 percent) and among out-state voters (55 percent), Czuba said.

"She does as well in out-state as she does in the Metro Detroit region. She is very well entrenched in what are typically rural areas because of her role on the Senate Agriculture Committee," he said. "It’s why she is so difficult to beat all the time."

Stabenow also has stronger support among women (about 55 percent) than men (50 percent). 

A first-time candidate, James continues to struggle with name identification among Michigan voters, according to the survey. 

Nearly 40 percent of respondents did not know who James is, though his name ID improved to 58 percent in this week's poll, compared with 54 percent in early September.

“Here we are in early October, and John James numbers haven't changed, including his name ID,” Czuba said.

“It begs the question: Where have they been investing their time and resources? It seems they squandered a month here."

Undecided voters in the race break slightly toward favoring President Donald Trump, Czuba noted, It could be a potential boon for James, who endorses Trump's agenda. 

"But James could win over all the undecided and frankly he would still lose pretty handily," Czuba said. 

"His job is to build his name ID, go win every one of the undecideds and then rip away the people who have already committed to Debbie Stabenow. That's an extraordinarily tough challenge in 30 days." 

James' favorable rating came in at 22 percent to 16.5 percent unfavorable, and another 19 percent had no opinion of him. 

Stabenow's name was known to nearly all respondents (99 percent), with a favorable rating of 49 percent to 32 percent unfavorable. 

She's been on the air with ads since the summer, while James just released his first television ad of the general election this week. It didn't mention he's running for the Senate, or that he's a Republican. 



U.S. Senate race

Debbie Stabenow 53%

John James 35%

Third party candidate 3%

Undecided 10%

Note: Numbers may not total 100 percent because of rounding. Sept. 30-Oct. 2 poll of 600 likely Michigan voters had margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

Source: Glengariff Group