Congressman Gary Peters is leading former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land by 9 points in the race for the Great Lakes State’s U.S. Senate seat, according to a Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll of likely general-election voters. The survey also revealed Republican indecision about the presidential race two years out and voter confidence that the state’s economy is improving.

Peters, a Democrat, was the choice of 46 percent of those polled, while 37 percent would choose Republican Land, with 10 percent undecided. Third-party candidates Jim Fulner, a Libertarian; Richard Matkin of the U.S. Taxpayers Party; and Chris Wahmhoff, Green Party; were in single digits.

“Recent independent ads linking Terri Lynn Land to the Koch brothers appear to be working,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Research Center in Boston. “Land’s favorability is upside-down, with a higher unfavorable rating.”

Land recorded a 35 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable, while Peters’ popularity was fairly even at 34 percent favorable and 33 percent unfavorable.

Governor’s race and constitutional offices

The race for the governor’s office is much tighter, with Congressman Mark Schauer, the Democratic candidate, leading Republican incumbent Rick Snyder 45 percent to 43 percent, within the poll’s margin of error. Eight percent remain undecided, while the three other candidates on the ballot, Libertarian Mary Buzuma, Mark McFarlin of the US Taxpayer’s Party, and Paul Homeniuk of the Green Party, polled at less than 2 percent each.

Democrats Lisa Brown and Mark Totten led by 10 and 7 points respectively in the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general, while the race for secretary of state was closer, with Democrat Godfrey Dillard leading Republican Ruth Johnson 40 percent to 36 percent.

2016 presidential primaries

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential elections, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was running dead even with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 11 percent among Republican voters, but “undecided” was the leader at 17 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had 10 percent, while other prospective candidates were in single digits, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (7 percent), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (6 percent), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (6 percent), Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (6 percent), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (5 percent), and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (5 percent). However, if Mitt Romney were in the mix, he would garner nearly 40 percent of the vote and clear the Republican field, with Bush holding 10 percent and all others in mid-to-low single digits.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to dominate the Democratic contest, with 61 percent of Democratic voters supporting her as their first choice in the primary. Vice-President Joe Biden comes in a distant second, with 17 percent, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in third with 7 percent. Nine percent remain undecided.

Hope on the economy

The rust belt state, hit hard by changes in the automotive industry, is showing some optimism about its prospects, with 51 percent of Michigan voters saying that the state economy had improved over the past two years – even though jobs were the No. 1 concern of 24 percent of those polled.

The survey is part of a mid-term elections affiliation between Suffolk University and USA TODAY that includes polling and analysis of key U.S. Senate and other statewide races and issues.

Methodology

The survey was conducted via landline and cell phone. All respondents indicated that they were very or somewhat likely to vote in the Nov. 4 election. The field of 500 likely general-election voters was conducted Saturday, Sept. 6, through Wednesday, Sept. 10. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, dpaleologos@suffolk.edu.