MI-Gov: Cherry’s Numbers Are the Pits

Marketing Resource Group for Inside Michigan Politics (3/4-3/10, registered voters):

John Cherry (D): 34

Mike Cox (R): 41

John Cherry (D): 34

Terri Lynn Land (R): 39

John Cherry (D): 34

L. Brooks Patterson (R): 38

L. Brooks Patterson (R): 22

Peter Hoekstra (R): 17

Mike Cox (R): 15

Terri Lynn Land (R): 12

(MoE: ±4.1%)

People in the know about Michigan politics have been warning us that, despite its blue-state status, we’re going to face an uphill fight to retain the open gubernatorial seat in Michigan. Much of the public ire with Michigan’s dire economic straits seems to be aimed toward Jennifer Granholm’s administration, and with her #2, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, as the Dems’ likeliest nominee, that’s a problem for us. With this poll commissioned by local politics newsletter Inside Michigan Politics, we have some confirmation, as all three head-to-heads show Cherry trailing Republican rivals.

While Cherry fares the worst against Attorney General Mike Cox (cue Beavis & Butthead-style laughter here…), Cherry also loses by narrower margins to SoS Terri Lynn Land and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. Cox, however, isn’t in a good position in the primary; Patterson, with high name rec in the Detroit suburbs, beats him, as does retiring Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who has a strong base in the Grand Rapids area. (No Cherry/Hoekstra matchup was released.)

The writeup in the Detroit Free Press also alludes to Democratic primary results, although it doesn’t give specific numbers. Cherry easily dispatches Daniel Mulhern (Granholm’s husband, who’s said he isn’t running), ex-Michigan St. football coach George Perles, and state House Speaker Andy Dillon. Dillon is term-limited out of the House in 2010 and is apparently interested enough in the governor’s race to forego a challenge in MI-11 to the vulnerable Thad McCotter; I’d be very interested to see how Dillon polls in head-to-heads against the leading GOPers, to see if the problems are specific to Cherry or if there’s a bigger problem with the Democratic brand in Michigan right now.

17 thoughts on “MI-Gov: Cherry’s Numbers Are the Pits”

  1. He was elected as a ticket with Granholm correct? Then his name rec can’t be very high. Sure, it will clearly be a tough hold but these numbers aren’t anything to be fearful of.  

  2. And if that’s the case, I don’t know if nominating the House Speaker is much better than nominating the Lt. Gov. Party interests might be better served by nominating someone who can run against Lansing.

  3. When I saw the poll, I had a few thoughts.

    1. Don’t necessarily trust the pollster. They’re a Republican firm, and of the 21 polls conducted in September 2008, the Market Resource Group poll was one of only two that showed McCain leading Obama. It was still within the margin of error, so it could have been statistical noise, but my gut says that MRG might lean Republican.

    That said, Grebner at Michigan Liberal seems to trust them some, so we can’t just throw away the poll out of partisanship.

    2. John Cherry isn’t especially well-known yet. Besides occasional speaking gigs when the governor couldn’t make it, he kept a pretty low profile before last year. He’s been trying to boost his name ID, and we should have a better idea about that some time later this year.

    3. As noted by others, Granholm was down big against Dick DeVos in 2006, and came back to win by 14. It’s a Democratic state overall, we just like to make our Democrats work for it.

    Really, I think the problem in Michigan is with the Granholm brand rather than the Democratic brand, and Cherry needs to demonstrate that he’d do things differently than Granholm– bolder, more progressive action. He’s got the connections to lock up the primary before it starts (or close to it), regardless of what Andy Dillon has in mind, so it’s all about convincing Democratic voters that he’s worth getting excited about and convincing independents that he’s offering something different than what we’ve had since 2002.

    Unfortunately, for all of the many good things that Jennifer Granholm has done, she hasn’t come across as effective. She’s been a solid, moderate Democratic governor at a time when I think the state has needed something more. It’s Cherry’s job (or whomever we nominate) to show that Democrats can still offer something more.

    The thing is, having seen John Cherry a few times, he just doesn’t seem like that great of a campaigner. I hope so, because besides Andy Dillon (who, right now, strikes me as a non-starter), we don’t really have anyone else who’s viable.

  4. This is really much better than I figure Cherry would be. And if Cox is the best polling candidate on the GOP side, then this looks really good. Cox looked formidable 6 years ago when he considered taking on Granholm, but Devos elbowed him out of the way with his enormous bank account and forced him to settle for relection as AG. Since then he has made a number of missteps, including his handling of the Mayorial situation in Detroit.

    Cherry’s not my first choice, but if he is the horse we Michigan Dems pick to ride in 2010, I now feel MUCH LESS concerned that it will be a ride to the glue factory.

  5. There’re a couple things to keep in mind.

    1) This is a Governor’s race. Governor’s races go to the smaller party all the time. Many state have have or recently had Governor’s from the wrong part — off the top of my head I can think of MA, CT, NY, CA, WY, OK, and KS.

    2) The Democratic brand in Michigan is fine. Granholm herself won four years ago. A few months back Dems won the State House, the Congressional Delegation, all statewide boards, got more votes for State Senate, Presidential Electors, and unseated the Chief Justice of Michigan’s Supreme Court.

    The last one is really huge. Justices for the Supreme Court are nominated by their parties, but are listed on the non-partisan section of the ballot. To beat Cliff Taylor we had to drill his name into the heads of half the voters in the state, convince them he sucked, and do it well enough that they’d remember to vote for Supreme Court.

    3) Nobody knows who Tom Cherry is. Including me, a genuine state politics junky. He’s boring. He’s bald. Some suburb likes the family so much they gave his State Senate seat to his wife. Don’t know which suburb, or which County.

    4) Given 1), and 3) it’s not surprising John Cherry’s down by 5 to known politicians. It’s actually pretty heartening.

    5) The dudes who did this poll forgot a very important player. Bart Stupak represents more than 30 of Michigan’s counties House. He’s a proven vote-getter in rural areas (biggest city represented: Marquette population 19,000), and he usually wins by 30 points.

    I’d be more interested to see how he’s doing vs. Cox than see a Hoekstra vs. Cherry matchup.

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