Holy Cow: Is John Dingell Losing in MI-15?

Posted: Oct 08, 2010 11:57 AM
The Detroit Free Press is reporting a new independent poll showing longtime Congressional incumbent John Dingell (D-MI) trailing in his re-election bid:

A new independent poll has the dean of the U.S. House, Rep. John Dingell, trailing his Republican opponent, Rob Steele, by 4 percentage points.

The automated phone survey of 300 people in the 15th Congressional District showed Steele getting 43.8% of the vote. Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat and the longest-serving member of Congress, got 39.5%. About 11% were undecided. The gap is within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points. The poll was conducted Monday.

A few caveats are in order.  First, the poll sample is relatively low at 300 respondents.  Second, the write-up describes those sampled simple as "people."  Were these adults?  Registered voters?  Likely voters?  That would be useful information.  Third, the margin of error is fairly high--5.6 percent.  Fourth--and totally unscientifically--my gut has trouble believing these results.  John Dingell is losing?  Really?

Still, this is an oh-my-goodness moment.  Dingell was elected in 1954 and is currently the longest-serving member of Congress.  He is an institution who occupies what is the veritable definition of a safe Democratic seat:  A suburban Detroit district in a blue state that encompasses parts of Ann Arbor (!) and Dearborn (!!).  In 2008, Dingell won re-election with 71 percent of the vote.  If John Dingell is vulnerable in 2010 (and the survey shows he's languishing below 40 percent), the coming Red Wave Tsunami could be much, much larger than almost anyone is predicting.

Dingell's Republican opponent is Dr. Rob Steele, a cardiologist who's strongly opposed to Obamacare.  Steele may benefit from the massive coattails of GOP Gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder.  But again, I ask: Really?

2008 MI-15: Obama 66, McCain 33

Also, just how long has John Dingell served in Congress?  This long: