The House’s longest serving member, Democrat John Dingell, is in unexpected danger, according to The Daily Beast’s Election Oracle, while Republican efforts to capture Bart Stupak’s conservative district may be losing momentum in an ugly and personal campaign.
House races are experiencing a lot of movement in the Election Oracle recently, as new polls land in key swing districts. For today’s update, we’re going to focus in on a pair of seats in Michigan that may be moving in opposite directions.
Democratic Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House since winning election in 1955 (!), may be more endangered in his suburban Detroit district than previously thought. His father was the previous congressman in the district, so a GOP win would end nearly 80 years of Democratic Dingell domination and herald a truly huge night for Republicans. While a Detroit News poll in September showed Dingell with a healthy 19-point lead over cardiologist Rob Steele, an independent survey by Rossman/Team TelCom last week has him down 4 points. Unless he’s done something to merit a 23-point swing in less than a month, it’s likely at least one of these pollsters is pretty far off base. The Cook Political Report still doesn’t rate the race as competitive. Dingell is a staunch defender of the auto industry, so much so that Democrats replaced him as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for fear he would stymie climate-change legislation.
Michigan offers another bright spot for the Democrats, however, as one of the most endangered districts for the party may be closer than other polls indicate.
Michigan offers another bright spot for the Democrats, however, as one of the most endangered districts for the party may be closer than other polls indicate. After nearly torpedoing health-care reform over concerns over abortion language before cutting a last minute deal, pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak is retiring, leaving behind an open seat in a conservative district. Republican candidate Dan Benishek is up 3 over Gary McDowell in the latest poll by Penn Schoen Berland for The Hill, but that’s a much rosier picture for Democrats than the last pollster’s take, a poll by WeAskAmerica showing a 16-point Republican lead. Outside groups have taken an interest in the race, with conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity and the American Future Fund running ads. It’s an ugly campaign—an article touted by the state Democratic Party recently alleged Benishek hid income during his divorce proceedings to lower child-support payments some 20 years ago. His ex-wife and daughter are backing his campaign.
Benjamin Sarlin is the Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast and edits the site's politics blog, Beltway Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked for talkingpointsmemo.com.