The Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released this week of two dozen competitive House districts reveals the tremendous risk Republicans face by shutting down the government. In the 24 districts that were polled Republican incumbent trail a generic Democrat in 17 of the races. In 16 of those 17 races the incumbent Republican House member has a negative approval rating as well. Much attention has focused on the electoral peril these Republicans face, but a closer look at the numbers reveals something else as well. The Republican Party has fallen into serious disfavor in the state of Michigan. Whether it is national Republicans, or Rick Snyder’s dictatorial tendencies as Governor of the state, it is clear that the Republican Party’s grip on power in the Wolverine State is slipping away, because of their unpopular policies.
Among the seventeen most embattled GOP incumbents in the US House, the two most vulnerable members (Dan Benishek and Kerry Bentovolio) are from Michigan as is Tim Walberg who is also in the top five in terms of electoral vulnerability. While it is possible to note that most of the seventeen Republican incumbents in jeopardy are in toss up races, that is not the case for the Michigan trio. These guys are in deep, deep trouble. Dan Benishek, who represents the First District, which includes the Upper Peninsula, has a dismal 33 percent approval rating from his constituents with 54 percent disapproving of his job performance in the US House. In a head to head matchup against a generic Democrat he would get shellacked by a gaudy 56-35 margin if an election were held today.
Downstate, Tim Walberg, does not fare much better. His popularity is also mired at 33 percent approval with 46 percent of his constituents disapproving of his job performance. In a match up against a Democrat he would get pummeled 49-41. His prospects are not quite as bleak as Benishek’s but he still faces the possibility of a double digit repudiation at the polls.
Suburban Detroit’s Kerry Bentivolio may be in the worst shape of all among members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation. His approval rating is a dismal 28 percent with nearly twice as many (55 percent) of his constituents disapproving of his job performance. The ill-mannered, hot-tempered Tea Party firebrand may have to go back to being a reindeer rancher after the 2014 election, because he trails a generic Democrat 53-37.
The Michigan GOP delegation has clearly worn out its welcome, and while these seats are especially in jeopardy, they may not be the only Republican-held House seats in Michigan that are in play. Justin Amash (3rd District), Dave Camp (4th District), Fred Upton (6th District) and Mike Rogers (8th District) can perhaps take solace in knowing that their constituents were not polled, but since each lives in a reasonably competitive district they may have reason to worry as well. Even Bill Huizenga (2nd District) and Candice Miller (10th District) might have to break a sweat in 2014, meaning all nine GOP held House seats could be at least marginally competitive. The state’s 9 to 5 Republican House majority was achieved through partisan gerrymandering, but the GOP may have overplayed their hand so poorly that Democrats could threaten to run the table in 2014. They probably will not topple every GOP Representative from the state, but Benishek, Bentivolio and Walberg, at the very least, are close to being doomed. Democrats just need to seize the moment and run them out of the Michigan House delegation before they can do too much more damage. For residents of the Wolverine State 2014 cannot come soon enough.