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Pollster reports declining support for Benishek

October 10, 2013 - Jim Anderson
U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, got some bad news in a recent poll (Oct. 2-3) conducted by Public Policy Polling.

If the election for Congress were held today, respondents were asked, would you vote to re-elect Congressman Benishek or would you vote for his Democratic opponent?

Thirty-five percent said re-elect Benishek, 10 percent weren’t sure, and 56 percent chose “Democratic opponent.”

It’s wise, however, to take those numbers with a grain of salt, especially in predicting the outcome of a 2014 congressional race.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is sometimes regarded as Democratic leaning. Also, early in the 2012 race, PPP had Benishek trailing Democratic challenger Gary McDowell 46 to 41 percent. Benishek ended up narrowly (48.1 to 47.6 percent) winning that race.

While Benishek has yet to formally launch his re-election campaign, he did say in a recent interview that he plans to seek a third term. Among Democrats, retired general Jerry Cannon of Grand Traverse County has entered the race.

Here’s an interesting note from the PPP poll: When it was emphasized that Benishek voted to support the government shutdown as a way to stop the Affordable Care Act from being put into place, Benishek’s numbers hardly budged. Thirty-five percent said re-elect Benishek, 7 percent weren’t sure, and 57 percent chose “Democratic opponent.”

UPDATE: Despite the daunting numbers in the PPP poll, the National Republican Congressional Committee says no alarm bells are sounding.

“Every nonpartisan polling expert thinks this latest Democrat survey is a joke that’s wildly off the mark,” said Katie Prill, NRCC regional press secretary.

For one thing, critics say, testing GOP members against generic Democratic candidates will give overly-optimistic readings for any challenger and are of little use in predicting what a race might look like a year from now.

The committee pointed to analysis that the poll was commissioned by progressive group to boost Democratic fund-raising.



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