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John James Gaining Ground in Michigan

In Michigan's U.S. Senate race, which was expected to be a cakewalk for incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, Republican candidate John James is surging.

Senate candidate John James

A poll taken by Ipsos in September showed James behind by twenty points, but a Tarrance Group survey released today shows him behind by only seven points.

Tarrance Group found that James is polling at 41%, while Stabenow has 48% support (605 likely voters were surveyed). While seven points is a tough lead to beat, the key development is that Stabenow has yet to reach a majority of the vote, an indication that the race is far from over.

James' surge could be attributed to the fact that he participated in two debates with Stabenow (on the 14th and 15th of October), which increased his profile among Michiganders. Name recognition, of course, has been a consistent struggle for James, who is not a career politician like Stabenow.

The 37-year-old James is a West Point graduate who spent eight years in the U.S. Army. He served in combat in Iraq, and because of his dedication to the defense of our republic, he was honored with a Combat Action Badge (CAB) and two Air Medals.

After his service in the Army, James took the helm of James Group International, and its revenue surged from $35 million to $137 million under his watch.

James identifies this experience as a political qualifier, saying, "Michigan families want good paying jobs, safe communities and a fair shot at the American Dream. I understand how to create jobs, because I’ve done it before."

FDL Review predicted that the Michigan Senate race "leaned" Democratic when other handicappers pegged it as a "solid" or "likely" Democratic contest, and we stand by that prediction for the time being. However, if James continues to gain ground, the race could quickly enter "tossup" territory in our projections.

This comes as FDL Review is moving Nevada and Arizona to the "tossup" column, with perhaps a small GOP advantage in each state.

On the other hand, we are moving Florida to the "lean" Democratic column from "likely" Republican, and we are moving West Virginia from the "tossup" column to "lean" Democratic. New Jersey will also go from "tossup" to "lean" Democratic.