SPOTLIGHT

Justin Time

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., participates in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing about. the War Powers Act on May, 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. The committee was hearing testimony on the War Powers Act and the U.S. involvement with operations in Libya.
National Journal
Tim Alberta
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Tim Alberta
July 8, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

Primary sea­son is wind­ing down, but one heated race con­tin­ues to beep on our radar: Michigan’s 3rd dis­trict. There, Rep. Justin Amash, a prob­lem child for the Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment since be­ing elec­ted in 2010, is try­ing to fend off busi­ness-backed chal­lenger Bri­an El­lis. The elec­tion is four weeks from today, but des­pite swell­ing me­dia cov­er­age of the bit­terly-fought cam­paign, there’s mount­ing evid­ence that we shouldn’t ex­pect a barn-burn­er on Aug. 5.

— A new in­tern­al poll con­duc­ted for Amash’s cam­paign by Ohio-based Wen­zel Strategies, and shared first with Na­tion­al Journ­al Hot­line, finds the in­cum­bent with a com­fort­able 22-point lead over El­lis. This mar­gin is con­sist­ent with the res­ults of a re­cent EPIC-MRA poll taken for the De­troit Free Press and WXYZ-TV, which found Amash ahead by 20 points.

— Amash’s in­tern­al, which sur­veyed 705 likely GOP voters between June 30 and Ju­ly 3 us­ing a mix of live-caller and auto­mated meth­od­o­lo­gies, showed him tak­ing 56 per­cent to El­lis’s 34 per­cent — with 10 per­cent still un­de­cided. Two im­port­ant stat­ist­ics there: the in­cum­bent over 50 per­cent, and only 10 per­cent un­cer­tain of who they’ll vote for. These num­bers also mir­ror the EPIC-MRA poll, which showed Amash lead­ing by a mar­gin of 55 per­cent to 35 per­cent.

— Per­haps most im­port­ant, the in­tern­al poll shows that opin­ions have hardened and very few voters re­main am­bi­val­ent in their views of the can­did­ates. El­lis has worked hard — and spent big — to define Amash as ex­treme. But that ef­fort may have back­fired: El­lis’s fa­vor­ab­il­ity is un­der­wa­ter in the Wen­zel sur­vey, while GOP voters view Amash fa­vor­ably by a two-to-one mar­gin. Once again, this tracks pretty closely with EPIC-MRA, which last month showed Amash’s fav-un­fav at 64-32 and El­lis’s at 40-32.

In­tern­al polling should al­ways be taken with a grain of salt, and Wen­zel has something of a spotty track re­cord. Still, Amash cer­tainly looks strong head­ing in­to the home stretch. Much ink has been spilled de­tail­ing the in­flu­ence of Amash’s en­emies in Wash­ing­ton (House Speak­er John Boehner) and in Michigan (the Cham­ber of Com­merce and Right to Life ). But as Eric Can­tor‘s de­feat re­minded us last month, the only thing that mat­ters in these races is the opin­ion of voters in the dis­trict. And that prob­ably means Amash, the party pari­ah with plenty of friends back home, isn’t go­ing any­where.
Tim Al­berta

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