Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has a slight lead over former Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, according to a new poll released Saturday that shows a tightening race for a seat pivotal to Democrats' chances of maintaining control of the Senate.
Stabenow leads Hoekstra in the poll, conducted by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV in Detroit, 48 percent to 42 percent. In a survey last month by the same pollster, Stabenow had a slightly larger advantage, 47 percent to 38 percent.
Stabenow's ratings are mixed. A slight plurality of likely voters, 47 percent, have a favorable opinion of her, while 39 percent have an unfavorable opinion. But only 41 percent would use the words "excellent" or "good" to describe her job performance, with 52 percent rating her "just fair" or "poor."
Stabenow does crack the critical 50-percent mark against former state Board of Education president Clark Durant, leading 51 percent to 31 percent. Durant remains unknown in the state: 61 percent of likely voters did not recognize his name.
While Stabenow currently has a slight edge in the Senate race, the GOP could be buoyed in the presidential race if Mitt Romney, whose father George served as governor of the state, were to become the Republican nominee. In separate results released Sunday, Romney led President Obama, 46 percent to 41 percent. But Obama leads former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by 5 points and businessman Herman Cain by 14 points.
The poll was conducted Nov. 13-16, surveying 600 likely voters. The margin of error is +/- 4.0 percent.