Hampered by her son’s legal troubles, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick is down 13 percentage points to state Sen. Hansen Clarke in her re-election race, according to a poll released today by Clarke’s campaign.
The poll, done by EPIC-MRA on July 6 and 7, shows Clarke, a Detroit Democrat, ahead 44% to 31% among 400 likely voters in the Aug. 3 Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional District. Four other Democratic challengers — Rev. Glenn Plummer and Stephen Hume of Detroit, Vincent Brown of Garden City and John Broad of Grosse Pointe Farms — get a total of 9% among them with no one at more than 3%.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. EPIC-MRA of Lansing also does statewide polling for the Free Press and a consortium of Michigan television stations.
Nearly half of the poll respondents who weren’t choosing Kilpatrick cited Kilpatrick family scandals as their reason for not wanting to keep the seven-term incumbent in office. Another 15% said it was time for a change from Kilpatrick, who was first elected to Congress in 1996.
Kilpatrick faced a strong challenge in 2008 from two seasoned Democratic politicians, who split the vote enough for Kilpatrick to win the primary and ultimately the general election. Since then, her son, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has been removed from office, convicted of state felonies and indicted on federal charges of mail and wire fraud and income tax evasion.
The poll showed that Clarke leads Kilpatrick by 21 percentage points in his state Senate district, which lies entirely within Kilpatrick’s district in the city of Detroit. That was Kilpatrick’s traditional base in her 2008 victory.
“This poll just confirms for us that our support is stronger and deeper than anyone thinks and that will be apparent on election day,” Clarke said.
Most undecided voters are in the suburbs of the district — the five Grosse Pointes, Harper Woods, River Rouge, Lincoln Park, Ecorse and Wyandotte.
“Our poll indicates that Congresswoman Kilpatrick is leading the race," Eddie McDonald, campaign coordinator, said in a statement. "Voters—not pundits or pollsters—will have the final say on August 3. We believe voters value the Congresswoman’s hard work, leadership, seniority, and experience and will re-elect her to the U.S. House of Representatives."
A poll last month by Inside Michigan Politics and Practical Political Consulting showed Clarke with a 4-percentage point lead over Kilpatrick.
“She would need upwards of $1 million to bury him,” said Bill Ballenger of Inside Michigan Politics, adding that Kilpatrick has $270,000 cash available for the last two weeks of the campaign. “I think he’s in a good position to win.”
But Kilpatrick likely has a big advantage in turning out voters on election day, which could be critical since Democrats have shown little excitement so far about the Aug. 3 primary.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican John Hauler, 42, of Grosse Pointe; Libertarian Heidi Peterson, 33, of Detroit, and Independent Duane Montgomery of Detroit.
The Free Press was provided the entire poll and examined the questions closely for any possible bias and found none.
“I never question a poll that was commissioned by someone if you’re comfortable with the way the questions were asked,” said Kelly Rossman, CEO of the Rossman Group, a marketing firm in Lansing that contracts occasionally for polling. “If they didn’t share the questions, I wouldn’t go with the numbers.”