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Internal Democratic poll shows tight race in contest to replace Amash

Internal Democratic poll shows tight race in contest to replace Amash
© Greg Nash

A new internal poll shows a tight race brewing in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District in the contest to replace outgoing Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashOcasio-Cortez draws hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch livestream Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House votes to condemn alleged hysterectomies on migrant women MORE (I).

The poll from Democrat Hillary Scholten's campaign, which has not been previously reported, shows her with 44 percent support among likely voters, compared with 42 percent for Republican Peter Meijer. The difference falls well within the survey’s margin of error, and 14 percent of voters remain undecided, indicating the race remains fluid in the final sprint to Election Day.

Likely voters in the Grand Rapids-area seat also favor a Democrat on the generic congressional ballot by a 3-point margin (45-42), while 13 percent are persuadable.

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“As we head into the last six weeks of the election, it’s clear that Hillary’s independent-minded, service-oriented leadership is resonating with West Michigan voters," Wellesley Daniels, Scholten's campaign manager, said. "The issues matter. Voters in the district want a representative who will fight for affordable access to health care and clean drinking water and that’s Hillary.”

Democrats have made the district a target after Amash, a Republican-turned-independent who voted to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE, announced he would not seek another term.

The party has thrown its support behind Scholten, a former Justice Department staffer in the Obama administration. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) placed her on its Red to Blue list, a program intended to highlight candidates in what it sees as Democrats’ top flip opportunities, and Scholten has raised more than $1 million in the third quarter of 2020, a period that will end at the close of September. The DCCC also announced Tuesday it is reserving $570,000 in the districts in the weeks leading up to the election.

Scholten had more than $150,000 more in the bank than Meijer as of the end of the pre-primary period in mid-July, according to Federal Election Commission filings. 

Still, the race is expected to be tight against Meijer, a veteran and member of the family that owns the Meijer supermarket chain. A poll released earlier this month showed the two candidates knotted up at 41 percent among likely voters.

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“Voters are looking for a candidate who will truly represent their values. Peter is committed to representing everyone in the district, fighting for a better healthcare system that expands access, lowers costs, and protects those with pre-existing conditions, and continuing a long-standing bipartisan tradition in the Great Lakes State of conserving our environment for future generations to come,” said Meijer spokesperson Noah Sadlier.

The predominantly white, working class district is precisely the kind of area where Democrats are looking to reverse losses, particularly in a battleground state like Michigan, after falling short up and down the ballot. President Obama lost the district by about 7 points in 2012, but President Trump expanded his margin of victory to 10 points in 2016. Amash won reelection by 11 points in 2018, though that was before he left the Republican Party and voted to impeach Trump. 

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race as “lean” Republican. 

The poll, conducted by ALG Research, surveyed 501 likely voters from Sept. 16 to 20 and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.