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August, 24th 2007

Revisiting our old friend, the MI-7 district

– Liz Mair

Last year, when blogging at GOPProgress.com, I wrote a lot on the MI-7 race. Most of it amounted to complaining that the description of the then-incumbent, Rep. Joe Schwarz, who was more moderate than some in the GOP would have liked (and that included me, to be fair-- I recall having commented on RedState that I thought Schwarz's non-support for legislation to nix decisions like Kelo v New London was particularly lame), as a "liberal" was just a tad false. But I also recall having commented that while that district was a Republican one, it wasn't nearly as conservative as Rep. Schwarz's Republican primary challenger, the now Rep. Tim Walberg-- and that that district could end up favoring Democrats if Walberg were elected.

Well, while I certainly don't want to start an argument as to Schwarz vs. Walberg again (honestly, I didn't like either candidate, Schwarz because of things like the Kelo point, and Walberg because his campaign largely focused on God & GaysTM, rather than the fiscal issues, which were what led the Club for Growth to endorse him), I do just want to point out something interesting I came across today. From Michigan's Battle Creek Enquirer (i.e., MI-7's local paper):

If the 2008 election were held today, 7th District residents would vote for Rudy Giuliani for president and Joe Schwarz for Congress.

A newly released poll of 600 registered voters by Glengariff Group Inc., a Chicago-based Republican polling firm, showed the the once-solid Republican district has shifted Democratic-independent.

The poll, taken July 24 to 28, showed 36 percent of voters in the seven-county district identified as Democrats, 29 percent as Republicans and 12 percent independent.

If Schwarz, a Battle Creek Republican, were to run as a Democrat, the poll shows him beating U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, 44 percent to 41 percent. Schwarz lost his congressional seat after Walberg defeated him in the 2006 GOP primary.
(my emphasis added)

I will note that the poll has a margin of error of 4 percent-- so theoretically, were Schwarz to run against Walberg (which would entail him switching his party affiliation, since I don't think he'd want to rehash the Republican primary thing), he could lose by 1 point. If the poll is to be believed.

In any event, the point I'm making is that it looks like Walberg is, after all, not quite as good a fit for that district as some people made out last year-- and that the district really wasn't destined to remain as strongly Republican going forward as some were saying last year.

Obviously, the whole country has shifted Democratic in the last year, so Walberg ending up looking out-of-kilter with his district isn't necessarily surprising. But my guess is, if we were talking about a Republican who wasn't regarded as quite so much a firebrand conservative, given the direction of the district, we might not be seeing the drop-off in numbers from last year's win of 51% to the current poll number of 44%.

Note: before I get hate mail from all you arch-conservatives who read this blog, this post should not suggest that I'm gunning for Schwarz to run, or that if he did, even with an R behind his name, were I voter in that district, that I'd happily tick his box on the ballot. I'm more inclined to think I'd find myself in write-in territory, actually.

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