Latest poll shows John Dingell more popular in Washtenaw County than other parts of district
A new poll shows U.S. Congressman John Dingell, D-Dearborn, is popular with voters in Washtenaw County — but the 84-year-old incumbent may have a tough time convincing voters in other parts of the 15th Congressional District to reelect him in November.
Asked whether they would reelect Dingell, 42.5 percent of district voters said they would, while 47 percent said it was time to give someone new a chance and 10.5 percent were undecided.
Dingell did better among voters in Washtenaw County, who said they would reelect him by a margin of 53.3 percent to 34.2 percent. Those numbers reverse in Monroe and Wayne counties.
The poll was conducted by the Glengariff Group Inc. for WDIV-TV and the Detroit News. It included a survey of 400 likely voters in the 15th Congressional District.
Dingell is being challenged in the Nov. 2 election by Ann Arbor-area cardiologist Rob Steele, a Republican who says it's time for change after 55 years with Dingell in office.
But the poll shows Steele's campaign has not yet connected with voters on a mass scale. He had only 49.5 percent name identification in the district. About 15.8 percent of voters said they view him favorably, while 8.5 percent said they view him unfavorably.
Dingell had 97.7 percent name identification in the district. About 48.3 percent of voters said they view him favorably, while 31.8 percent said they view him unfavorably.
In a generic ballot test in which voters were asked whether they would vote for "the Republican candidate," "the Democratic candidate," or a third-party candidate, 45.3 percent said they would vote for the Democratic candidate, while 32 percent said they would go Republican.
Another 7.5 percent said they would vote for a third party candidate, while 14.8 percent said they were still undecided.
Again, the numbers improve for Dingell in Washtenaw County, where 56.6 percent said they would vote for the Democrat, compared to 26.3 percent who said Republican. Only 1.3 percent of Washtenaw County voters said they would vote for a third party candidate.
Among voters that say they are "definitely" voting, Democrats hold a 44 percent to 34 percent generic ballot lead, according to the poll.
Both campaigns are making a push to raise donations right now. Dingell plans to air a new ad starting Tuesday that characterizes him as "America’s Watchdog," holding BP accountable, cracking down on Medicare waste and getting tainted food off the shelves.
The ad paints millionaire Steele as "Wall Street's Yes Man," and suggests Steele supports Wall Street control of Social Security, tax cuts for wealthy Wall Street bankers, and tax loopholes that ship American jobs overseas.
"Steele’s radical plans go even further than what George W. Bush was able to accomplish," Dingell's website states.
Steele's campaign says the GOP is in striking distance of Dingell.
"The Dingell camp has sent MDP chair Mark Brewer on the attack," Steele's website reads. "Over the next three days, help us raise the $50,000 that we need to refute Brewer's blatant lies and retire John Dingell in November."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529.