Third Congressional District Debate held in October 2010.
(Detroit Free Press)- Michigan's 3rd Congressional District - the late President Gerald R. Ford's old district in and around Grand Rapids - appears likely to remain in Republican hands this year, but the race may be closer than some anticipate.
In what is expected to be a strong year for Republicans in Congress, a poll conducted for the Free Press and four Michigan TV stations shows state Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township holding a 46% to 37% edge over his Democratic opponent, Grand Rapids lawyer Pat Miles.
Eight percent went for other candidates, and 9% remained undecided.
With a 9 percentage-point lead, Amash would be expected to prevail Nov. 2. But his support is well less than the 60%-plus totals garnered in every election won by U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, a moderate Republican from Grand Rapids who is retiring at the end of his term in December, since he first won a special election in 1993.
For instance, in the Democratic wave two years ago, Ehlers beat his Democratic opponent, Henry Sanchez, 61%-35%.
Ehlers has endorsed Amash, but Miles - a classmate of President Barack Obama at Harvard Law School - has made the most of his connections with other moderate Republicans to win their support and paint the Republican nominee as too conservative for the district.
In the state Legislature, the 30-year-old Amash refused to compromise on bills, even when other Republicans did, earning a reputation for independence that could be hurting him now as Miles' allies - including some former Kent County Republican Party chairmen - characterize Amash as uncompromising.
Though only a small percentage of voters described themselves as independent - just 7% - Miles led among that group, 46%-27%, with another 27% either undecided or backing a third-party candidate. Amash held a commanding 81%-7% lead among Republican voters, with 6% picking other candidates and 7% undecided. Miles led 77%-8% among Democrats, with 7% backing other candidates and 7% undecided.
For the poll, EPIC/MRA of Lansing surveyed 400 likely voters in the district from Saturday to Tuesday. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
By Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press Washington Staff