A shocking new independent poll puts the longest-serving member of House – in history – down four points in his Michigan district to a cardiologist who has never before run for any elected office.
Democrat Rep. John Dingell, 84, the only sitting member of Congress who was elected when a veteran of the Civil War was still alive, who is battling for his 28th consecutive re-election, is losing in a poll for the first time against Republican candidate Rob Steele.
The “robo” poll of 300 people, conducted by Rossman Group of Lansing and Team TelCom, showed Steele getting 43.8 percent of the vote and Dingell getting 39.5 percent of the vote.
The poll had a margin of error of 5.6 percent, meaning the race is statistically tied, according to its results.
Dingell has assailed the veracity of the poll and one Republican campaign expert cautioned not put too much weight on its results.
Still, any incumbent polling below 50 percent is in trouble because in most races many voters only become acquainted with challengers in the week or so leading up to election day.
For Dingell to be polling at 40 percent, a full 10 points below the safety zone, is a remarkable development for a race in such a deeply Democratic district.
Dingell and his late father together have represented Michigan’s 15th congressional district for more than 75 years.
Dingell assailed the poll’s veracity, charging the groups who conducted the poll are Republicans seeking to sway the outcome of the race.
“This is a GOP poll conducted by a firm with GOP ties masquerading as an independent poll, but it’s too early for trick or treats,” Dingell said in a statement.
However, Josh Hovey, a senior account executive of the Rossman Group, one of the two organizations that conducted the poll, said his organization is hardly a right-wing bunch.
Rossman Group Chief Executive Kelly Rossman-McKinney “has pretty strong Democratic ties,” Hovey said. “I came from the Democratic side myself.”
One Republican campaign expert said the poll was useful but of limited significance.
“The poll’s large margin of error, relatively small sample size and robo-call method mean that Republicans should be cautious about reading too much into the poll,” said Scott Tranter, chief executive of Vlytics.com, a company that specializes in voter contact and turnout models.
“Show me a few others with better sample sizes and methodology that corroborate this one and then we know we got a race to watch,” Tranter said.