By Jim Ellis
Aug. 1, 2017 — A poll released last week that placed entertainer Robert Ritchie (Kid Rock) ahead of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) generated a great deal of news coverage, but the Delphi Analytica survey didn’t appear reliable. A new credible Michigan Senate survey followed, however, and actually seems to confirm that Ritchie could become a viable candidate.
The Delphi Analytica poll was never available on the reported web links and showing Sen. Stabenow, who is completing her third term with respectable approval ratings, with only 26 percent support failed to make sense.
The Trafalgar Group, on the other hand, is a reliable pollster. The only survey research firm to correctly forecast Donald Trump victories in Pennsylvania and Michigan, the Atlanta-based firm also projected Republican Karen Handel to defeat Democrat Jon Ossoff in the Georgia special congressional election last month when most pollsters were predicting the opposite. Now, the company’s new Michigan Senate study (July 25-27; 1,078 likely Michigan voter respondents from more than 50,000 attempted calls) finds Ritchie in a virtual dead heat with Sen. Stabenow.
According to the Trafalgar results, Sen. Stabenow would today lead Ritchie, 43-41 percent. When those categorized as “leaning” to one candidate or another were added, the singer/musician actually forges ahead, 49-46 percent.
The poll also reports a commanding lead for Ritchie in the Republican primary: 50-9-7-6 percent, respectively over businesswoman and former Trump state co-chair Lena Epstein, businessman John James, and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. But, this tally is unclear because there is no delineation that likely Republican primary voters were segmented from the at-large sample. If the GOP primary question was posed to the at-large universe, then this particular ballot test is not relevant.
Should polling results like this continue, the “Kid Rock for Senate” campaign will be taken much more seriously.
As some had speculated, Maryland Rep. John Delaney’s (D-Potomac) special pre-weekend political announcement featured a 2020 presidential campaign declaration. Prior to his decision to launch a national campaign in the succeeding election cycle, the congressman had been a prospective Democratic contender in the 2018 Maryland governor’s race.
The most relevant short-term political development associated with Delaney’s presidential announcement is his decision not to seek a fourth term from his Montgomery County anchored congressional district. The Free State’s 6th District coming open means 17 regular election CDs now fall into the incumbent-less category, seven of which Democrats currently hold.
While the viability factor for a Delaney for President can certainly be debated – the new presidential candidate is worth over $100 million, so he will have the resources to at least launch a professional campaign – the open 6th District analysis becomes the short-term political focal point.
Almost half MD-6 sits in Montgomery County, with the remaining 50 percent-plus split among four other counties that take the constituency through the city of Frederick, and then west to the West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders. Though the electorate here voted 55-40 percent in favor of Hillary Clinton, the 6th proved to be President Trump’s second-best Maryland district.
The political domain proved it could become competitive in certain circumstances when Delaney barely won re-election in the 2014 Republican wave year. He topped Republican Dan Bongino by just 2,774 votes (50-48 percent) from more than 190,000 ballots cast. Realistically, however, a close Republican loss is probably the best the party can expect here.
Since it had long been surmised that Rep. Delaney would not be seeking re-election, two Democrats began organizing some time ago. State House Majority Leader Bill Frick and state Delegate Aruna Miller are Democratic primary candidates, with likely many more soon to follow. Expect Republicans to also file a slate of credible contenders for their party nomination.