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MIRS BREAKING NEWS: Bolger's Lead In 63rd Within Margin Of Error -- 3:38 p.m.





House Speaker Jase BOLGER's (R-Marshall) lead over Scotts Democrat Bill FARMER in the 63rd District is 51.5 to 48.5 percent, within the margin of error, according to a MIRS/Practical Political Consulting (PPC) poll of 580 likely 63rd House District voters.


The survey found Republican presidential nominee Mitt ROMNEY beating President Barack OBAMA 49 to 44 percent in Bolger's district, made up of pieces of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties. Seven percent chose "other."


Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete HOEKSTRA is up 46 to 45 percent over incumbent U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D-Lansing) in this district. Nine percent chose "other."


PPC's Mark GREBNER said Bolger's 3-percentage-point lead shows him "the state House race appears to be very close" and Bolger's lead is "far from being statistically significant."


The margin of error is 4 percent. An "other" option was not offered for the Bolger-Farmer race since no third-party candidate filed to run.


"The district should be almost safely Republican, especially for an incumbent," Grebner said. "But Farmer is running strongly enough to have roughly made up for the natural Republican lean of the district."


Bolger won 63 to 37 percent over Democrat Dave MORGAN in 2010 and 57 to 43 percent over Democrat Phyllis SMITH in 2008.


Bolger's Press Secretary Ari ADLER, pointed Bolger had a higher percentage than Romney and Hoekstra in a 57 percent GOP seat.


"He has been encouraged by the response from voters while going door to door in his district," Adler said. "People want to talk about the need for more jobs, a more efficient government, and their desire to

have their children well educated and able to find successful careers here in Michigan.


"Speaker Bolger has been planning to run a full campaign and since the Democrats have attacked him every time he's run for office, he's not going to be caught off guard or take anything for granted. The Speaker is confident the people of the 63rd District will judge him on his entire record and he knows the only poll that matters is the one taken in the voting booth."


Grebner assumed a 43-percent Democratic base in the district and polled as such. If the same is reweighed for its over-representation of Republicans, Farmer, a Michigan AFSCME Council 25 official, has a small lead.


Among people who are voting for Romney, Bolger leads 83 to 4 percent, while Farmer leads 81 to 6 among Obama supporters, Grebner said.

What Grebner found interesting is that among people who chose "other" or made no choice for president, Farmer is leading 43 to 22 percent. Even among this Republican-leaning group of ticket-splitters,

Farmer's advantage is statistically significant.


"The district leans Republican, and for Bolger to win he needs to win back the Republicans and R-leaning independents among whom Farmer has made inroads," Grebner said. "Whether Farmer can hold onto his gains is the question."


MIRS opted to poll in the district in reaction to the negative publicity Bolger has received for his role in Rep. Roy SCHMIDT's (R-Grand Rapids) party-switching scheme, which involved the recruitment of a family friend to run as a last-minute general election opponent.


Schmidt's decision to offer campaign money to the friend, Matt MOJZAK, has the Secretary of State looking into the matter. The decision to assist Mojzak register in the first place despite not living in 76th House District has a one-woman grand jury looking into potential criminal charges.


Rep. Brandon DILLON (D-Grand Rapids) talked about the possibility of Farmer upsetting Bolger during the 3rd Congressional District's caucus at the Michigan Democratic Party's convention over the weekend.

Dillon told the caucus that Democrats have a true chance to beat Bolger.


"I think it's important for people to understand this is not a pipe dream," he said. It's also interesting to note that Farmer played a prominent role in the caucus meeting.

PPC called 6,000 registered on Sept. 7, 9, and 10 and received responses for at least one of the three questions from 687 people, or 11.4 percent, a "surprisingly high for a general election sample, and says that people are interested in the election and willing to share their opinions," Grebner said.


Because PPC only called people with listed landlines, the sample underrepresents younger voters. The average person who votes this November in the 63rd District will be 52 years old. The average person called was 55. And the average person who actually responded was 60. In other words, the biggest cause of the age skew was the tendency of younger people, even if they have landline numbers, not to answer calls from unknown callers, Grebner said.


As far as Romney's five-point lead in the district, Grebner said he would expect the Republican candidate to be ahead by about 14 percentage points.


"The fact we see Romney leading by only 5 points is consistent with at least a 9 percentage point lead for Obama statewide," Grebner said. "Of course, it's somewhat dangerous to extrapolate from a single district; we don't know that the same relationship would hold everywhere. But these numbers help illustrate why neither campaign is running a heavy ad schedule in Michigan currently."


On Hoekstra's 1-point lead over Stabenow, Grebner said that he would expect to see a slight West Michigan "homefield advantage" for Hoekstra. The fact he's up only 1 point tells him he's running 13 percentage points behind the pace he'd need to win statewide.


In running various comparisons, Grebner found one that was interesting.


Among people voting for Obama, Stabenow is leading Hoekstra by a 84 to 3 percent, while he leads among Romney supporters by a similar 85 to 4 percent. But among the 82 people whose presidential preference was "other" or who failed to make any choice at all, Stabenow is leading 39 to 13 percent, which suggests that she's running very well among ticket-splitters and independents.


"That difference, even with such a small sample, is easily statistically significant," he said.



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