Pundits Believe Schuette and Whitmer are on a Collision Course, U.S. Senate Race Still Cloudy

Friday, September 22, 2017 –Lansing, MI –  With politicians from across the state descending upon Mackinac Island to discuss big ideas and goals for the future at the 32nd Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, the Pundit Poll thought it was an opportune time to ask Michigan's leading political insiders to offer predictions on some of the key races that are sure to be discussed among conference participants this weekend.

The 2018 election landscape is becoming clearer with each passing week, Lansing’s leading political pundits were asked to take stock of the races for Michigan Governor and U.S. Senate as they stand today – still over a year out from Election Day.   

The over 100 political insiders who make up the Pundit Poll roster were asked:

  1. If the Republican primary for governor was held today, who do you think would win?
  2. If the Republican primary for U.S. Senate was held today, who do you think would win?
  3. If the Democratic primary for governor were held today, who do you think would win?

The Pundits believe Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette will have no problem making it through to the General Election, garnering nearly 98 percent of the vote. The remaining 2 percent were unsure, with Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Jim Hines both receiving zero votes.

The outcome on the Democratic side also seems like a forgone conclusion, with Gretchen Whitmer gaining nearly 77 percent of the Pundits’ vote. Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar and William Cobbs are all struggling to break through, gathering 5 percent, 6 percent and 2 percent, respectively

“We’re still a long way out, and it’s certainly possible the landscape could look very different by next summer, but these races clearly appear Schuette’s and Whitmer’s to lose,” said Matt Resch, president of Resch Strategies.

The question of who will emerge from amongst the Republicans to take on Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent Debbie Stabenow is murkier. The most popular response selection for the Pundits considering the Republican primary for U.S. Senate was Other/Unsure, which garnered over 38 percent of the vote. For those willing to bet on a candidate, Bob Young is the most popular, earning 34 percent of the vote. However, there’s still plenty of time for John James to emerge as a serious threat, after garnering 22 percent of the vote. Lena Epstein, who has since ended her Senate campaign to run for U.S. House, earned 6 percent of the vote.

“No one has really jumped out and grabbed the reins in the race to take on Senator Stabenow, and that’s clearly reflected here in our poll,” said Dennis Denno, president of Denno Research.

Lastly, in the wake of Congressman David Trott’s announcement that he will not seek reelection, the Pundits were asked to offer their best options, on both the Republican and Democratic side, to challenge for the soon-to-be vacant seat. Pundits were offered an open-ended questioned and allowed to write in a candidate. 

The Pundits feel there are a number of viable choices on the Republican side of the race, with five individuals all gaining double-digit support. Laura Cox led the way with 20 percent of the vote. She was closely followed by Lena Epstein, Mike Kowall, Marty Knollenberg and Klint Kesto, with 17 percent, 15 percent, 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

The field of potential Democratic suitors for the seat is better defined, with Tim Greimel earning 32 percent of the vote and Haley Stevens collecting 30 percent. No one else in the poll earned support above single digits. 

The Pundit Poll is a survey on the latest political news and issues in Michigan. The survey uses emails to collect the compiled and confidential responses from political strategists, consultants, and insiders across Michigan, with the goal of offering an insider’s look at the political issues facing the state. A full list of 130 pundits in the poll can be found at: www.thepunditpoll.com. 

Methodology: This was a Resch Strategies/Denno Research survey of Michigan political experts, pundits, and members of the media. 130 respondents were invited and 89 responded. The survey was emailed Monday, September 18 and closed Tuesday, September 19.