Monday, March 28, 2011

Overconfident Much? MI GOP Head Dismisses Current Potential Republican Senate Candidates

Far too early to be seriously talking about the numbers surrounding the Senate 2012 race, but it's never too early to point out the arrogance of a tone-deaf Michigan Republican Party. Seems GOP head Bobby Schostak overstated his case on a potential Republican candidate to challenge Debbie Stabenow, and in the process admitted that the names mentioned so far are considered second-tier by the party. You just have to chuckle.

Michigan GOP Chairman Robert "Bobby" Schostak said in an interview he believes a Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow will emerge who is "head and shoulders" above the potential candidates mentioned so far.

Those potential candidates include former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and former state party Chairman Saul Anuzis.

"Is there a name yet to be announced that could … all of a sudden be head and shoulders, 'wow, that's the perfect person,' they absolutely will win, and the others should step aside?" Schostak asked in an interview.

"I expect that will happen, but I don't know who it is. They haven't met with me yet, if they're out there."

Terri Lynn Land took offense.

"Basically, what he is saying is he doesn't like us, which is a pretty rude thing for the state party chairman to say," Land said Friday.

Land could be a strong candidate, but you get the impression she doesn't have the fire to put herself out there as a frontrunner. Once again she takes a back seat to the boys, and is deferring her decision on a run until Hoekstra decides, which is almost an automatic admission that he would be the stronger candidate. As for Hoekstra, Skubick has read the tea leaves and is confident he won't run, preferring to enjoy a lucrative life out of the mud pit that is the modern day political race. (and if Tim is right, that really says something about how distasteful campaigning has become. Hoekstra is a political animal, and if he doesn't want to play the game anymore...) Turtle Pete will make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

Schostak knew he screwed up when he said it, and tried to take it back. Big points to Paul Egan at the DNews for reporting it anyway.

Schostak's communication director, Jennifer Hoff, who sat in on the Thursday interview, shortly afterward sent an e-mail to The Detroit News asking that the "head and shoulders" comment not be used.

"The chairman just asked me to follow up with you on the U.S. Senate stuff," Hoff said in the e-mail. "He would prefer you not reference it as 'head and shoulders above the rest' when discussing the Senate race and the possibility of a yet unknown getting in who is more than qualified but not really being talked about at this time. He wants to be considerate of all who are involved."

Oops! Too late. And it might not matter anyway. Given the current public sentiment on Republican governance, what with the tanking poll numbers and almost daily protests and all, 2012 might be yet another wave election that sweeps the extremists right back out of power again. The GOP overreach that is going on in the states, coupled with Republican obstruction that increasingly looks like it will bring about a federal government shutdown, will make the GOP very unpopular when it's all said and done. According to PPP, Stabenow is already the beneficiary of the anger that is mounting out there.

stabenowchst6613The biggest beneficiaries of the Midwestern backlash toward newly elected Republican Governors might be the Democratic Senators up for reelection in those states next year. Earlier this month we found Herb Kohl and Sherrod Brown in pretty solid shape for reelection in Wisconsin and Ohio respectively, and now Debbie Stabenow's standing is looking much improved from when PPP last polled Michigan in early December.

Stabenow's net approval rating has improved six points to +7 (46/39) from its +1 standing (41/40) in early December. More importantly she now leads all of the Republicans we tested against her by double digits. She's up 10 on former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land at 48-38, 12 on former Congressman Pete Hoekstra at 50-38, 17 on former state GOP chair Saul Anuzis at 52-35, and 19 on announced candidate Randy Hekman at 52-33. The numbers against Land and Hoekstra are most telling because we also tested them against Stabenow in December. Stabenow is now doing 6 points better against Land, having led by only 4 at 45-41 on the previous poll. And she's doing 11 points better against Hoekstra, having led by just a single point at 45-44 on the original survey.

All will change by next year of course. The Democrats still have to present their case, and they can't simply sit back and count on the Republicans to continue to shoot themselves in the foot. And who knows what events may transpire between then and now that will throw all the current polling right out the window. But as it stands, the trends are starting to take shape right now, and any Republican that thinks they still have some sort of sweeping mandate for their slash-and-burn public policy is going to be very surprised come next year.