President Obama has scaled back his campaigning and spending in Michigan, where he is confident of victory in the fall, but Real Clear Politics’ analysis indicates that he may be overconfident.
RCP regards the state as a toss-up for both the presidential and U.S. Senate elections this year. The RCP average of the polls shows Obama clinging to a two-point lead over Republican rival Mitt Romney. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has a 4.8 point lead over former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., in the Senate race.
“[T]he president has sharply backed off spending here,” the Detroit News‘ Nolan Finley wrote today, noting that Obama has not visited the state in months. Finley explained that Republicans — who rode the 2010 wave to control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion — see an opening:
Obama’s recent absence from Michigan could haunt him. The City of Detroit provides Democrats with most of their votes in the state, but the president has disappointed the mayor with his neglect of the city. “I don’t give grades, but it’s been mixed,” Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a Democrat, said to CBS last week when asked Obama’s performance as president. “Since taking keys to the White House, Obama has visited Michigan 11 times,”CBS said, but he has not visited Detroit once. He is the first modern president who did note speak at the Detroit Economic Club. A Congressional Black Caucus town hall in Detroit last August turned “scary” as residents registered their anger over the current state of affairs. “This was one of the scariest moments of my life,” CBC executive director Angela Rye recalled of the event. “And I think the reason for that was I’ve never seen people so angry and so hurt and so frustrated and you went into Detroit for that jobs initiative, it was like a ghost town in downtown Detroit.” Rye downplayed the attendees’ irritation with Obama, but Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., mollified the crowd by acknowledging their anger at him and expressing some of her own frustration with the president. “We’re supportive of the president, but we’re getting tired, y’all,” Waters said at the meeting. “We’re getting tired. And so, what we want to do is, we want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he’s prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is. We don’t know why on this trip that he’s in the United States now, he’s not in any black community. We don’t know that.” Obama’s engagement with the state, on the other hand, has backfired at times as the green tech companies he has praised — and subsidized with taxpayer money — struggle. A123 Systems, for instance, received $390 million in federal and state subsidies before laying off 125 employees. A Chinese company recently purchased an 80 percent stake in the company.
“It’s important for Michigan to be in play,” says Ron Weiser, the former state GOP chair and now the party’s national finance chief. “We have to keep the pressure on (Obama) here, to make him spend time and money here. If we win Michigan, it makes it very hard for Obama to be re-elected.”