Campaign 2010

Oct 03, 2008

Impact of McCain’s Michigan Departure on Key Congressional Races

In a major blow to the candidacies of Representatives Tim Walberg (MI-07) and Joe Knollenberg (MI-09), the presidential campaign of John McCain has abandoned the state of Michigan.

According to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, "It's clear from looking at the trend lines that polling was getting worse in the Wolverine State as the focus turned more and more to the economy. The economic hard times in Michigan are as bad as any in the country; the continued collapse of the auto industry has ground the Michigan economy to a virtual halt." [The Washington Post, 10/02/08]


In this economy, both Congressman Walberg and Congressman Knollenberg will pay a heavy price at the polls this November for blindly supporting President Bush's failed economic agenda that got us into our current crisis that has squeezed families with soaring energy and health care costs, and skyrocketing unemployment.


In addition to President Bush's policies that have devastated Michigan's economy, another key factor in Senator McCain's decision was the Democrats' unprecedented ground game across the state.  The Peters and Schauer campaigns and their supporters have built the largest congressional field campaigns in Michigan's history.


 The same factors that led Senator McCain to abandon Michigan are going to cost Congressmen Walberg and Knollenberg their seats in November.



MI-07 (Tim Walberg vs. Mark Schauer)


In Michigan's 7th Congressional District, Michigan voters are clearly rejecting the Bush-Walberg economic policies that have devastated Michigan's economy. Given Walberg's extremism and blind loyalty to President Bush as well as his weak fundraising and floundering campaign, Walberg was clearly holding out hope that Senator McCain could put him over the top.


On September 7, Congressman Walberg, referring to Republican presidential nominee John McCain, stated, "We'll help him and he'll help us, there's no doubt about it. I think his message will truly resonate with people who want to have reform in Washington. He's not afraid to take anyone on.'' [The Ann Arbor News, 9/07/08]   Walberg also said that he hopes McCain's success in Michigan and Washtenaw County in the 2000 election, particularly among moderate Democrats and independents, can help offset the anticipated support countywide for his Democratic challenger, Mark Schauer. [The Ann Arbor News, 9/07/08]


The departure of the McCain campaign means that Walberg will have even less of a ground game to compete with Mark Schauer, who already has more than 1,000 volunteers for the campaign.  In fact his supporters and volunteers have already contacted tens of thousands of people on the phone and by knocking on doors.


Last week an internal poll released by Myers Research & Strategic Services (D) showed Senator Mark Schauer leading incumbent Congressman Tim Walberg 42% - 36%. The internal poll showed a 9-point shift in Schauer's favor since Myers' May survey. The poll was conducted between September 24 - 25, 2008.


Mark Schauer continues to win over Democrats, Independents, and Republicans for his ability to bring jobs back to Michigan and put the people of Michigan first. Earlier this week, former Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz announced his support for Schauer over Walberg.  


MI-09 (Joe Knollenberg vs. Gary Peters)


As a fifth generation Oakland County native and accomplished businessman, Democratic congressional candidate Gary Peters is winning over voters for his plan to take action to create good-paying jobs, restore fiscal discipline and get Michigan's economy back on track.

With the departure of the McCain campaign, Gary Peters has an even stronger advantage in the critical ground game heading into the final 32 days of the campaign. Peters' supporters and volunteers have already knocked on over 100,000 doors in the 9th District - and Peters has built one of the strongest voter turnout operations anywhere in the country.


A Grove Insight poll released this week conducted August 17-19 of 400 likely voters with a 4.9 percent margin of error shows that Gary Peters leads Congressman Joe Knollenberg 41-37 percent in an initial matchup.  After voters are informed with each candidates' message and bio, Gary Peters comes out ahead 50% to 35%.


Only 25 percent of the district approves of Joe Knollenberg's job performance, while President Bush's approval rating stands at 18 percent.


The bad news for Knollenberg campaign comes on the heels of two major rating changes by national political observers.


On Thursday, Congressional Quarterly upgraded its rating of the race in Michigan's 9th Congressional District from "Lean Republican" to "No Clear Favorite."


Also, on Thursday, the Cook Political Report moved MI-09 from "Lean Republican" to "Toss Up." According to Cook Report House Races Editor Dave Wasserman, "Democrats express optimism that this Oakland County seat includes the kind of suburban communities where Obama will do very well, and that the wide age gap between the 75-year old Knollenberg and 49-year old Peters will work in their favor."