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Making sense of poll numbers

Readers are accustomed to seeing polling numbers. Candidate A has a 12-point lead over candidate B. But rarely do they get a chance to dive into the numbers behind the numbers. Professional pollsters call them the cross-tab statistics, which break down where the candidate is getting his or her support.

The latest findings for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer show a pretty dramatic reversal thanks to the COVID-19 thing. Last January, before the bug invaded our Pure Michigan life, Ms. Whitmer had 43% support. Six months into the virus mission, she stands at 61% but who likes her most of all?

African-Americans by far are most joyful as 97% think is she doing very well. Next are women with 62% on her side, followed by 62% of the independent voters and 61% of all of you over the age of 65. Her least favorable group are men although 52% of them think she is doing O.K. but that’s a 10-point disagreement with the opposite sex.

Speaking of gender gaps, the cross tabs on the Biden vs. Trump contest in our state is very revealing. Sixty five percent of college educated women are voting for the Democrat compared to 45% of the college educated men. You can make of that 20-point gap as you see fit.

The cultural divide in our state is no clearer as you look at Mr. Biden’s support in lower Michigan, pegged at 54% while Mr. Trump enjoys 52% in northern Michigan, which is why he was in Midland last week and Mr. Biden was in Macomb County.

And now this diddy regarding the two guys running for the Michigan U.S. Senate seat.

Eighty five percent of the voters know who Gary Peters is and 81% recognize the challenger John James, but to know them is apparently not to love them.

Both of them are underwater when the researchers ask about the public’s favorable opinion of each.

The Democrat has a 31% plus and 32% minus score on that scale and the GOP candidate is about the same at 31% positive and 34% negative. Neither of them are writing home about that lackluster impression.

You’ll recall when Mr. James challenged Michigan’s senior Senator Debbie Stabenow, she was supposed to run away with the win. Instead Mr. James, the hot shot helicopter pilot and private business man lost by a very respectable six points.

Republicans, who have very few U.S. Senate races in the win column dating back to the dynasty of Carl Levin, proclaimed Mr. James the “new rising start in the party” and even President Trump has warmly embraced Mr. James as he tries to do to Mr. Peters what he failed to do to Ms. Stabenow.

The race is basically tied at this time after Mr. Peters enjoyed a double digit lead earlier this year. It’s 44%-41% which is within the margin of error for this survey.

The outcome hinges on one third of the electorate, which either doesn’t know these gentleman or has no opinion about them. These folks are the target of all those god-awful TV ads that have flood TV markets around the state. God-awful in the sense that they are neverending. The two have more TV face time than your local TV news anchor.

The outcome could come down to the debates, if there are any.

To understand this little dance the two are engaged in, you should know that the incumbent holds all the cards. Mr. Peters does not have to debate Mr. James, but Mr. James does want to get his opponent on stage. The question is, which stage?

Mr. James has proposed debates on commercial TV in Grand Rapids and Detroit.

As Ms. Stabenow has done in the past, Mr. Peters has proposed meeting on two Public TV stations in G.R. and Motown.

Is it because the Democrat is a strong backer of Public TV? Well maybe he is, but that’s not the hidden agenda which is, more viewers would see them on commercial TV than Public TV, which has a well informed clientele but not as many eyes. If you don’t want to give your opponent exposure to a larger audience which could then turn around and vote for the challenger, you stick to your guns for a smaller venue.

While James beefs about all this, Mr. Peters can honestly say, I do want to debate him, he just won’t agree to where to do it. Peters’ team has it’s collective fingers crossed that Mr. James will not fold which means no debates, which is probably what the Dems wanted in the first place.

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