Cheat Sheet to 2014 GOP Senate Races: Michigan

Rep. Gary Peters

Michigan is one of those states with one foot on both sides of the fence. Every polling report out there puts Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land, former secretary of state in Michigan, neck and neck with Democratic candidate Rep. Gary Peters. While this split indicates a diverse votership in Michigan, it does at least simplify the strategy for both candidates. With Democratic Sen. Carl Levin retiring, it opens the door for fresh faces, just as Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is doing in Georgia when he retires this year. The difference is that in states like Georgia, Republicans are more split, leading to more crowded intra-party competition on top of the partisan politics.

Like Georgia, Michigan is a toss-up state at this point, swinging back from its red vote in 2010, at least according to Real Clear Politics, with Peters holding a 40.8 percent average and Land with a 39.2 percent average in the polls. Peter holds a minor advantage over Land in HuffPost Pollster‘s compilation of polls, as well, but in campaign funds he’s the underdog. According to the Detroit Free Press, Land pulled in $3.3 million to Peters’ $2.9 million as of December, a relief for some who were concerned that Land might not attract a competitive backing amount. The concern was somewhat understandable, considering she’d been out of office since 2011.

In the three months leading up to 2014, Land managed to raise $1.7 million, pouring in $1.6 million of her own money over the course of fundraising, as well. Even taking her own contributions out of the picture, she still had Peters beat by $54,000, something Land attributed to the trust that families in Michigan have in her “as a mom, small business owner and public servant. ” It is notable, though, that Peters has not put any personal money into his campaign as of December.

On the issues, Land had an initial advantage over Peters, in that Michigan had such a negative reaction to the poor Healthcare.gov rollout. Problems with the website prevented 84,000 Michiganders from enrolling for healthcare, problems that continued for some into six months past the government website premiere date, according to The Daily Caller. Of course, that’s not unique to Michigan, but polls in December showed that views on Obamacare were quite negative. Public Policy Polling showed that in December, Michigan posted a mere 34 percent support rating for Obamacare; 48 percent opposed, and 63 percent said that implementation of the Affordable Care Act was not successful, compared to the 30 percent who said it was.

Unfortunately for Land, those numbers have improved recently, with 40 percent of Michigan responders saying that the ACA was either very or somewhat successful, compared to 52 percent who said it was somewhat or very unsuccessful, nearly 10 percentage points’ difference. Still, improvement doesn’t necessarily mean Michigan is sliding left: There’s a considerable majority who continue to disapprove of President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. On top of that, Obama polled with a 50 percent disapproval rating, according to an April PPP poll, compared to a 44 percent approval rating. Sen. Carl Levin also had poor polling numbers, with 47 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving of his job performance.

Which brings us to Land’s stance on the issues. One big topic you see her name attached to is – surprise, surprise — Obamacare. The other is pay for women, though not in the way you might expect. In 2010, Land received a great deal of attention for her uniquely anti-equal pay views on women. “Well, we all like to be paid more and that’s great, but the reality is that women have a different lifestyle. … And they’re more interested in flexibility in a job than pay,” she said. Obama eventually noted her comment, saying, “Very rarely do you meet people who make the choice to be paid less for doing the same job.”

Land’s spoke with Fox News in April, calling accusations that she’s anti-woman “ridiculous,” saying: “I’ve always been a supporter of women. I’ve worked with women in the jobs that I’ve had as secretary of state and county clerk, and … now you’ve got the folks in Washington trying to tell Michigan women what they want. It’s just absurd.”

She went on to say: “Reality is, the real war on women is the fact that we have Obamacare, where it’s actually going to the point where women can’t have the doctors that they want, senior women can’t have the plans that they want … where families are worried about the ability to have an affordable plan, where they’re losing their plans in Michigan.” The response was thankfully more verbal than her recent campaign ad, shown below.

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