Poll shows Sen. Gary Peters with slim lead over GOP rival in Michigan

Poll shows Sen. Gary Peters with slim lead over GOP rival in Michigan
© Aaron Schwartz
The poll, conducted by the Michigan-based Marketing Resource Group, a firm with ties to Republicans, shows Peters leading businessman and Iraq War veteran John James (R) by a slim 43 percent to 40 percent margin.
Republicans are cautiously optimistic that James will put a new state on a Senate map that otherwise favors Democrats. James, who has never held public office, lost a 2018 bid against Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial John Lewis to miss Martin Luther King Jr. Day event MORE (D) by a 52 percent to 46 percent margin.
James may have a better chance against Peters, who is seeking his second term in office. Peters is less well-known among Michiganders than his senior colleague; while 75 percent of state voters polled said they were aware of Peters, only 35 percent knew enough about him to say whether they felt positively, 20 percent, or negatively, 15 percent.
“John James’s campaign against Sen. Stabenow in 2018 appears to have propelled him into a virtual tie with Sen. Peters in 2020,” said Tom Shields, MRG’s senior adviser. 
James’s last campaign also served to introduce him to donors. James raised $3 million in the third quarter of the year and ended September with $3.8 million in the bank. Peters raised less, $2.4 million, but he has a significant cash edge, with $6.3 million on hand.
The poll shows a tighter race than a Target Insyght survey last month, which showed Peters leading by a 53 percent to 37 percent margin. 
Both Democrats and Republicans have made clear they see Michigan as a state critical to their paths to 270 electoral votes next year. President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE in 2016 became the first Republican to win the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988, but he won it by a margin of just under 11,000 votes.
The MRG poll suggests Trump may have trouble carrying the state a second time. Only 44 percent of Michigan voters surveyed approve of the job he’s doing as president, and 50 percent disapprove. Forty-seven percent say they see Trump in a very negative light.
The MRG poll surveyed 600 likely Michigan voters Oct. 7-10. The poll carried a margin of error of 4 percentage points.