In yesterday's "reckless speculation" post, I linked to political scientist Larry Sabato's early rankings of the upcoming 2012 Senate battles. He lists Stabenow as the "frontrunner" in her re-election effort, and does not include her contest among his top seven toss-up races. Although her favored status may be valid simply by default, some early polling data should raise warning flags for the two term incumbent:
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) starts her 2012 re-election bid on shaky footing, according to a survey out Friday.
The Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll found that only 37 percent approve of Stabenow's job performance and less than a quarter -- 23 percent -- would vote to re-elect her. A generic opponent pulled 43 percent against her.
What remains to be seen is who will challenge Stabenow. Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra is said to be considering it after losing the Republican gubernatorial primary last year. Other possibilities include businessman Tim Leuliette, Rep. Mike Rogers (R) and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
Michigan Republicans accomplished much in 2010, netting the governorship, two House seats, and winning both houses of the state legislature. Count this race as a somewhat under-the-radar GOP pickup opportunity in the next cycle. With Stabenow's re-elect number sitting at a moribund 23 percent, Republicans should paint a giant red bullseye on her seat.