If Kid Rock is serious about running for the U.S. Senate in Michigan, he may have his work cut out for him.
A week after the superstar musician again only teased his political intentions as he opened Little Caesars Arena in Detroit with a string of shows, a new poll released Wednesday showed he trails U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in a head-to-head match-up 52%-34%.
That's a far cry from a Tafalgar Group poll in July that had Kid Rock — whose real name is Robert Ritchie — ahead within that poll's margin of error, 49%-46%. Another poll, done by Target Insyght in July, had Stabenow ahead of Kid Rock 50%-42%.
The latest poll — by Marketing Resource Group (MRG) — shows Stabenow, the three-term Democratic incumbent, with an even larger 18-percentage-point lead, holding a sizable edge on her would-be challenger in most parts of the state, including the Upper Peninsula and the rest of northern Michigan as well as metro Detroit.
For the poll, MRG had live interviews with 600 likely voters between last Wednesday and this Monday. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
“Kid Rock would have an uphill climb against Stabenow if he were serious about getting into the race,” MRG President Tom Shields said in a statement sent out with the poll. “His popularity as an entertainer is not transferring to the ballot."
For months, Kid Rock has suggested he may run — presumably as a Republican — against Stabenow in Michigan, which last year backed Donald Trump in his upset of Hillary Clinton. It marked the first time since 1988 that Michigan had backed a Republican presidential nominee, a fact that heartened Republicans about taking on Stabenow next year.
He has steadfastly said, however, that he is still undecided about entering the race and it goes without saying that, once he started campaign in earnest, his numbers could change — especially with the election so far off. The same, however, could be said of Stabenow, who after a close win over then-Sen. Spence Abraham in 2000, has had no trouble beating Republican opponents in her next two elections.
MRG's poll only asked about a head-to-head match-up using Kid Rock's stage name. It showed Ritchie — who would likely be required to use his real name on the ballot if he did run — leading only in conservative west Michigan, where he held a 43%-36% edge over Stabenow, with 15% undecided and 6% saying they wouldn't vote.
Overall statewide, Stabenow led 52%-34% with 10% undecided and 4% saying they wouldn't vote. Many other polling firms do not use the "wouldn't vote" category by itself, typically folding that into the undecided or refused to participate category.
The poll also found Stabenow leading in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties with more than 50% of the vote and holding leads among most age groups with only one — those ages 18-29 — preferring Ritchie 47%-44%, which would be a virtual tie within the margin of error.
While the poll showed Democrats supporting Stabenow 87%-9% over Kid Rock, Republicans were far less supportive of Ritchie, polling at 66%-13% with 20% undecided or saying they won't vote. Among independents, Stabenow led 46%-27% with 27% undecided or saying they won't vote.
The Republican field for the U.S. Senate seat up in Michigan got somewhat smaller this week when businesswoman Lena Epstein said she will instead run for a congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham. Former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Young has announced as a Republican for the Senate seat, and businessman John James is also considering entering the race.
Contact Todd Spangler: 703-854-8947 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tsspangler.