Rick Snyder surges past Mike Cox in gubernatorial race, new poll finds
By John Agar | The Grand Rapids Press
Ann Arbor venture capitalist Rick Snyder is surging in Michigan's gubernatorial race.
Snyder, who’s touted his credentials as a “nerd” and “job creator” in high-profile TV ads, has vaulted to second place among likely Republican voters, according to new poll.
"One thing is clear from this poll and other polls: the more voters learn about Rick, the more likely they are to support him,” Snyder campaign spokesman Jake Suski said.
Snyder, with 18 percent, now trails only U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who has 28 percent, according to a poll conducted March 3-5 by Denno-Noor Research in partnership with The Rossman Group and The Perricone Group.
Grand Rapids Press graphic
A poll conducted last month by EPIC-MRA found Hoekstra at 27 percent, Cox
at 21 percent and Snyder at 12 percent. Before he started airing ads,
Snyder was consistently polling in the 3 percent range.
On the Democratic side, state House Speaker Andy Dillon's 13 percent led Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero's 11 percent, according to the Denno-Noor poll. Some 56 percent of likely Democratic voters were undecided.
Hoekstra and Snyder showed gains in popularity among Republican voters since November.
"It's very, very early. The only guy that has advertised thus far is Snyder," said Bill Rustem, president of Public Sector Consultants in Lansing. "Consequently, his numbers are going to go up. The first goal is name recognition ... . It's moved his name recognition up from almost zero. Advertising does that for you."
Hoekstra, who has been on news programs as the ranking Republican of the House Intelligence Committee and as a critic of President Barack Obama, is "still riding that wave," Rustem said.
He didn't know why Cox's numbers dropped from 15 percent in November to 12 percent now.
"It's a little surprising that Cox is as low as he is, to be honest with you."
Grand Rapids Press Graphic
Cox's campaign gave the poll little credence. Spokesman Nick De Leeuw said polling was flawed because the candidates' titles were included when 600 people, who said they would vote, were polled. He also alleged that The Rossman Group is a consultant for Dillon's campaign.
The Rossman Group denied working for Dillon, and said Cox's camp was upset by negative questions posed in the November poll.
"Frankly, it's a nonsense poll," De Leeuw said. "Polls go up and down, and they continue to go up and down. People are recognizing that Mike Cox plans to cut government spending, and get jobs back. Mike Cox is one of the hardest-working guys I've ever met."
The poll covered numerous issues facing Michiganders. Among opinions:
â€¢ 55 percent believed that a new governor would be able to turn around the state's economy, while 23 percent are doubtful.
â€¢ 61 percent oppose holding a constitutional convention to rewrite the state's Constitution. Lansing political observer Bill Ballenger, in his Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, noted the two most recent votes on the issue failed significantly. In 1978, 77 percent of voters turned it down. In 1994, 72 percent said no.
Hoekstra spokesman John Truscott acknowledged that Snyder, former president of computer maker Gateway Inc., had gotten a boost with advertising spending. But Hoekstra is raising funds and has added staff.
"We're not going to spend what Rick Snyder is spending," he said. "We have enough to do what we need to do."
In ads, Snyder has called himself a “nerd” with a record of boosting the economy
Of those polled, 32 percent were in favor of a candidate describing himself as a nerd, with 30 percent said they were less likely to vote for such a candidate.
Of those who identified themselves as "strong Republicans," 30 percent sided with Hoekstra, 15 percent with Cox and 13 percent with Snyder, Denno said.
AnnArbor.com reporter Nathan Bomey contributed to this report.