For the past few months, people have begun whispering the question: Could John Dingell lose? Dingell has held his Michigan House seat since 1955. His father was originally elected to the seat on FDR's coattails in 1932. The Dingells have had few tough races since that time.
Yet there has been a sense that Dingell wasn't behaving like a confident frontrunner. Then there was some rumbling that Democrats in Washington were worried about the seat and wanted to keep an eye on it. Then Republican internal poll numbers that didn't look good for Dingell. Finally on Friday, there was an independent poll that showed Republican challenger Rob Steele ahead (a Sept. 20 poll showed Dingell up by double digits).
Jay Cost is skeptical that Dingell can be beaten because of redistricting and the safe haven of Ann Arbor.
The partisan makeup of MI-15 is probably too much for the Republican to overcome, in my judgment. Give Steele a good chunk of the Reagan Democrats in communities like Dearborn Heights and Woodhaven. Give him a huge haul out of Monroe County in the far southeast, and Dingell will still have Ann Arbor to fall back on.
That being said, this race will probably be the closest shave Dingell has ever had. I can definitely see him pulling in 55% or less; in fact I think that's where he will end up. The Democrats are getting obliterated at the top of the ticket in the state, and it will be much harder for the 84-year old Dingell to drum up enthusiasm among the U Mich student body than it was for Obama in 2008! Still, the guts of this district are so Democratic that he should be able to pull it out.
More to follow.
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