The 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.
Land is the most compelling of the candidates on the Republican side. She has a 37/19 favorability rating. In addition to being pretty universally well liked within her own party (55/7), she also has very strong numbers with independents (36/19), and comes pretty close to breaking even with Democrats (25/27). With Barack Obama back on the top of the ballot next year Democratic turnout is likely to return to its record levels of 2008 and that means the GOP needs a candidate who can get some crossover votes. Land's chances of doing that appear better than for other Republicans.
Hoekstra has pretty similar numbers to Land with Republicans, as 52% of them rate him favorably to 9% with a negative opinion. But his overall favorability scores are not nearly as strong as hers, with voters nearly evenly divided on him at 30% positive and 28% negative. That's because he doesn't have her appeal across party lines- only 13% of Democrats give him good marks to 40% who see him unfavorably and independents are ambivalent toward him, splitting 31/30.
Saul Anuzis is probably a lot better known to Washington DC journalists than he is to Michigan voters at this point. Only 20% of voters know enough about him to have an opinion and despite his past service as chair of the state GOP just 6% of Republicans in the state rate him positively. He conceivably could prove to be a good candidate if he ran but at this point he's a blank slate. And the same is true with Randy Hekman who only 17% of voters claim an opinion about.
Stabenow's approval numbers still aren't stellar and it would be a surprise if her 2012 reelection proves to be as easy as her 2006 one was- but she's definitely in better shape than at the end of last year.
Full results here