Terri Lynn Land is losing friends faster than the kid who tells the teacher what everyone else was doing while she was out of the room.
The latest Public Policy Polling survey shows the Republican’s favorability has dropped a net 28 points since December. Before the Christmas presents were unwrapped, 34 percent of Michigan voters surveyed by PPP liked Land, 23 percent did not.
Those numbers have crashed to 32 percent viewing Land “favorably” and 49 percent on the other side of the popularity fence.
Rep. Gary Peters (D), fighting Land for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Carl Levin (D), is far from the most popular kid on campus, but he has more friends than Land.
Public Policy Polling puts his favorability index at 35 percent favorable to 36 percent unfavorable.
However, in the numbers that really matter, Peters is leading Land by the widest margin thus far in the campaign, 43 percent to 36 percent overall. Third-party candidates combine for 7 percent of the vote.
It hasn’t been this good for Peters since October 2013 and the debate over the federal government shutdown.
Even if voters don’t care much for Peters as a man, they like his stand on the issues. The PPP survey shows support in Michigan is very strong for raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour and repealing right-to-work legislation.
Both issues have strong support among blue-collar Democrats in Michigan and help Peters make his populist case, even though he became a millionaire as a stockbroker.
It isn’t just the Democrat-favoring Public Policy Polling survey that shows Land is flailing and failing. A survey conducted for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV shows Peters has a 10.5-point lead over Land.
The poll was conducted Sept. 3-5, the days when outside PACs for both candidates launched multi-million-dollar TV and radio advertising campaigns that rained a blitzkrieg of attack ad bombshells on Michigan voters.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, for instance, was on the air day and night tying Land to the Koch brothers and petroleum coke pollution in Detroit. The ad’s narrator said she should be forced to live in the neighborhood affected by the filthy “petcoke” cloud that hung for a time over the Detroit River and then blew into downriver neighborhoods.
The Land campaign has been hitting back by arguing that Peters owns nearly $20,000 worth of stock in an oil company based in France that operates half a dozen petcoke plants in the United States.
The narrator of that TV ad says, “For Washington’s Gary Peters, $19,000 is a little bit of stock, and a lot of hypocrisy.”
Land also issued a statement attacking Peters for his investment in the company, Total S.A.
“Congressman Gary Peters should immediately sell his $20,000 investment in petcoke, the very substance he tells voters is polluting Detroit and the substance that is the nexus of false attack ads launched by national Democrats like Senator Harry Reid and California billionaire Tom Steyer,” Land said in a statement.
Nothing Land has done on the petcoke issue has made much of an impact with Michigan voters, just like Land’s first campaign ad, “Really,” in which she disputed the idea that Peters understood women.
Land may have tried to make the case in the ad that she must know more about women than Peters, given her gender, but it is only working as a boomerang. Democrats have been pulling pictures of Land looking confused out of her ad, and putting them in their TV and print ads for Peters.
The Detroit News/WDIV survey shows Peters has a 16.6-point lead among women and a 30-point lead among independents.
Land’s campaign spokesman, Heather Swift, told the Detroit News the weak numbers should be blamed on Peters’ TV ads.
“Congressman Peters’ allies like the radical billionaire Tom Steyer are spending millions in false ads attacking Terri Lynn Land because they support Peters’ job-killing policies like cap-and-trade,” Swift said.
The Associated Press added to Land’s heartburn and Peters’ celebration by publishing a story before the PPP and Detroit News/WDIV polls were released Sept. 9 that showed Republican Party leaders are fed up with Land.
“She hasn’t made a strong impression,” Bob LaBrant, a former chief lobbyist for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, told the Associated Press.
James Davis, from the Koch brothers-affiliated group Freedom Partners, told the Associated Press his organization had pulled $878,000 worth of ads that would have supported Land because “there is a high interest in return on investment.”
“We make decisions based on the most effective use for each dollar at the time,” Davis said.
Bill Ballenger, one of the most respected political analysts in Michigan and a former Republican state senator, told the National Journal, “There have always been doubts about whether she can do it…she has done, in my view, some things that simply underscore the doubts and qualms about her.”
Yet the Michigan Republican Party continues to support Land, pointing to a CBS News/New York Times poll that put Land in the lead 43-42 percent, well within the 3-point margin of error.
“Peters’ flip-flops and pandering continue to hurt us (Michigan families), and there’s no amount of money his billionaire liberal allies or Washington special interests can dump into this race to change the damage he has already done, and would continue to do in the Senate,” said Darren Littell, the Michigan GOP communications director.