PPP's first look at the Michigan Senate race since Carl Levin's retirement announcement finds Democrat Gary Peters as the early front runner, leading 8 different potential Republican candidates by anywhere from 5 to 20 points.
The strongest potential Republican candidate at this point is former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who announced her candidacy this week. She trails Peters by 5 points at 41/36. Land is the best known person considering the race too, although she still has just 50% name recognition.
Mike Rogers does the next best against Peters, trailing 42/32. After him it's Justin Amash and Dave Camp who each trail by 12 points at 42/30 and 43/31 respectively, Kimberly Small who's 16 points back at 42/26, Roger Kahn and Rob Steele who are each down 18 at 44/26, and Saul Anuzis who has a 20 point deficit at 44/24.
Peters' strength in these early match ups has less to do with him than it does the general Democratic lean of the state in national elections. At this point only 34% of voters know enough about Peters to have formed an opinion of him, with those assessments coming in slightly positive at 18/16. The Republican field is a blur to voters too though- after Land the best known is Rogers with 35% name recognition, followed by Camp at 31%, Amash at 30%, Anuzis at 18%, Small and Steele at 17%, and Kahn at 16%. This simply isn't a very high profile field of potential candidates.
A couple things stand out here- although Camp has a much smaller national profile than his colleagues Amash and Rogers, he actually has more support within the state. And Land's fourth place showing indicates this is another situation where the candidate who might give Republicans the best chance of winning in November is not necessarily the one they actually want to run.
With all the candidates so anonymous at this point the main thing these early results tell us is that in a Democratic state the likely default outcome is the election of another Democratic Senator. The eventual Republican candidate will have to distinguish his or herself, or Peters will have to falter for that to stray from the norm.
Full results here