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Michigan 1st District - Benishek vs. McDowell


Dan Benishek

Dan Benishek (R)*

Bio | Campaign Site

Gary McDowell

Gary McDowell (D)

Bio | Campaign Site

Michigan Snapshot

RCP Ranking: Toss Up
2012 Key Races:
Pres | Sen | MI-3 | MI-11

----------PAST KEY RACES----------

: Governor | MI-1 | MI-7 | MI-9 | MI-15
2008: President | MI-7 | MI-9
2006: Senate | Governor
2004: President

Polling Data

PollDateSampleBenishek (R)McDowell (D)Spread
Final Results----48.147.6Benishek +0.5
PPP (D)9/18 - 9/19866 LV4244McDowell +2

Race Analysis

Michigan's 1st Congressional District covers the Upper Peninsula, and the northeastern portion of the state's "mitt." The UP supplies most of the Democratic vote for the district and about half of the overall vote. Overall, this is marginally Republican political territory, having given George W. Bush 53 percent of the vote and Barack Obama 50 percent.

Bart Stupak, a former Michigan state trooper and member of the state House of Representatives, was elected to represent the district in 1992. He was a champion vote-getter thereafter, never falling below 57 percent despite the district's "swing" nature. The secret to Stupak's success was a mixture of economic populism and social conservatism; it was his insistence that forced the House to adopt strict limitations on the use of federal funds for abortion in the health care reform bill (though the provisions were watered down by the Senate).

Stupak opted to retire in 2010, setting off a matchup between state Rep. Gary McDowell, who hails from the Upper Peninsula, and Dan Benishek, a Tea Party-inspired candidate who squeaked by state Sen. Jason Allen by a handful of votes in the GOP primary.  Benishek handily defeated McDowell in the fall.  But his Tea Party leanings have actually played poorly in the district, which relies heavily upon federal funding.  Polls show a close race.