Suddenly, next year’s toss-up Senate seat could be in reach for the GOP, according to a new memo from the NRSC’s Ward Baker. And in more broad terms, this suggests Democrats’ majority in the U.S. Senate could also be in jeopardy:
If someone would have told me a year ago that the Michigan Senate seat would be in play in 2014 I would have encouraged them to seek professional help. I would have said that there’s no way, in a mid-term election with so many Senate seats in play, in states that President Obama lost by double digits, we would be focused on a state that Mitt Romney lost by nine points.
What a difference a year makes.
Michigan has undergone dramatic shifts in public opinion over the last twelve months. Nowhere is that shift more pronounced than in President Obama’s favorability. On Election Day 2012, Obama enjoyed a 57% fav-41% unfav image among Michigan voters, and took 54% of the vote. Today, his image has dropped to one-to-one (48%-46%) in the latest EPIC-MRA poll.
More critical, President Obama’s job performance rating is worse in Michigan than it is in some of the red states, with six-in-ten giving him a negative score (39% positive-60% negative). And, in a mid-term where Obama will not be on the ballot himself, it will be his job and not his likability that will have the most down-ballot influence.
At the same time, voters in the state are becoming less positive about the direction of the country under Obama (28% right direction-59% wrong track, was 31%-57% in May), and more positive about the direction of Michigan under a Republican Governor (42% right direction-42% wrong track, was 40%-46% in May). All this might explain why Sen. Carl Levin – who everyone assumes would have been a shoo-in for re-election – announced six months ago that he would not seek another term in the Senate.
h/t Jim Geraghty