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Walberg Has Tough Fight

Michigan Republicans may have felt good in 2006 when they voted to oust a moderate freshman and replace him with more conservative Rep. Tim Walberg, but today that decision looks a little risky. Walberg, who represents the south-central Seventh District in Michigan, may face a difficult challenge from a top state Democrat.

The survey, conducted by Michigan-based EPIC-MRA, tested 400 voters who have participated in previous elections within the Seventh District for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. The poll tested both Walberg and State Senate Democratic Leader Mark Schauer.

General Election Matchup
Walberg 51
Schauer 40

Despite a nasty primary two years ago, made worse thanks to the involvement of the Club for Growth, which ran several hard-hitting ads against Walberg's opponent, Walberg is seen in a generally positive light, as 42% view him favorably and just 30% see him unfavorably. And fortunately for the incumbent Republican, John McCain runs ahead of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the district, by 16 points and 25 points, respectively.

But the good news ends there for the incumbent Republican: President Bush is seen in an extraordinarily unfavorable light for a district he carried twice. Only 37% rate Bush's job performance positively, while 62% say he is performing negatively. Just 17% of district voters say the U.S. is headed in the right direction, while 68% say the country is on the wrong track. With numbers that negative, voters in a firing mood could look at Walberg. Also, Walberg isn't seen as doing an excellent job to begin with: 39% rate his job performance positively while 38% rate it negatively.

The Republican could also be in trouble thanks to lackluster fundraising. Through the end of the year, Walberg had hauled in $562,000 and retained $438,000 in the bank. Schauer, though, had both outraised his opponent, pulling in $577,000, and outbanked Walberg, retaining $500,000. President Bush carried the district twice, though by nine points, in 2004, and five points, in 2000. Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak represents a similar district, though in the state's Upper Peninsula, meaning Democrats can win slightly Republican seats in the state.

National Democrats are also targeting Michigan Republican Joe Knollenberg, though given the amount of money Knollenberg has raised, Walberg looks like Democrats' best chance for a takeover. If Schauer is to win, he will have to overcome the presidential votes of what looks like a district that favors John McCain.