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August 28, 2012
Michigan 3 In Play for Steve Pestka
Amash Continues to Have Serious VulnerabilitiesTo:
Andrew Baumann and Angela Kuefler, GQRR
District represents a challenging, but very real, pickup opportunity for DemocratSteve Pestka. The Grand Rapids-based district continues to lean Republican, but slightlyfriendlier congressional lines combined with Pestka’s strong profile and incumbent JustinAmash’s unique and significant vulnerabilities put the race in play.Although he has been in Washington for more than a year and a half, Amash remains largelyundefined to voters. And his Ron Paul-like record of casting extreme votes in the extreme mi-nority leaves him even more open to definition than other incumbent Republicans in an alreadytarget-rich year. Meanwhile, Pestka comes out of a tough primary fight relatively unscathed andhis profile as an independent former judge, prosecutor and current small business owner reso-nates with these West Michigan voters. After both candidates are introduced to voters with apositive profile, the race is a dead heat, at 46 to 48 percent, well within the margin of error.The following are key findings from a poll of 501 likely voters conducted August 18-21.
District conservative, but partisan landscape improved after redistricting.
The additionof Battle Creek and Calhoun County in redistricting made this seat slightly more Democraticand, in fact, Obama won the vote in 2008 within the new district. Democrats have a 6-pointparty ID advantage in the new portions of the district, and just a 4-point deficit across the en-tire district.
Primary, barrage of anti-Obama ads have not hurt Pestka vis-à-vis Amash.
Despitedealing with a somewhat contentious primary and a political landscape that has seen MittRomney and his allies vastly outspend Barack Obama and his allies in the state, Pestka’sstarting point against Amash has not deteriorated. In fact, with an initial 42 to 50 percentdeficit, Pestka has gained three points since our February survey, an increase within thesurvey’s margin of error.
Pestka’s profile resonates with voters.
As we noted, the less-well known Pestka beginsthe survey trailing the incumbent by 8 points. But after voters are read a positive profile oneach candidate, the gap closes to just two points, 46 to 48 percent. Pestka’s profile particu-larly resonates with the more conservative-leaning independents of the district, among