A number of poll shockers were released recently. Two show challenger Dino Rossi ahead of Senator Patty Murray, one by six points, the other by three points. The third poll, though, shows Congressman John Dingell behind by four points.
Senator Patty Murray first won her Senate seat in Washington State, advertising herself as the “Grandmother in tennis shoes” to highlight her supposed common touch. Though she has had an undistinguished career as a United States senator, blue-state Washington has returned her to the Senate two more times.
But with the Republican wave election of 2010, Murray’s career in politics may be about over. A poll conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates shows Dino Rossi at 48 percent and Patty Murray at 42 percent. A poll conducted by Rasmussen shows a slightly narrower lead, with Rossi at 49 percent and Murray at 46 percent.
The main reason Murray is underwater is the same reason that virtually every Democrat is struggling this election year. Barack Obama is unpopular. The public is angry at the economic malaise; health care reform; and the seemingly out of touch cluelessness in Washington.
The real shocker poll, though, comes from the Detroit Free Press and shows John Dingell behind his Republican opponent Rob Steele at 39.5 percent to 43.8 percent, almost four percentage points. What makes this a shocker is that Dingell has been in Congress since 1955 (and his father 22 years before that.) Dingell is the longest-serving member of the House. For many years, Dingell has been chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a post from which he wielded fearsome power, both in his oversight capacity and in the ability to stall or to move bills at whim.
Two years ago, Dingell was ousted as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee by Henry Waxman, a congressman more supportive of environmental regulations that Dingell has blocked to help protect Michigan’s automobile industry.
Why Dingell now may be underwater after decades of being unbeatable at the polls would seem obvious at close examination. Besides the already stated reasons, Michigan has suffered from a long-term recession that predates the current one. Also, in a year in which entrenched incumbents are in trouble, John Dingell, the most entrenched incumbent of them all, finds himself in the unaccustomed position of being vulnerable at the polls. Dingell, being in his 80s, may find that his constituents are ready to grant him a forced retirement.
Sources: Senate air wars heat up, playing field comes into focus, Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, October 7th, 2010
Election 2010: Washington Senate, Rasmussen, October 8th, 2010
Poll: In House race, Rob Steele leads John Dingell by 4 points, Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, October 8th, 2010