The surprisingly close Michigan Senate race, explained

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Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) speaks at the opening session of the NAACP National Convention on July 22, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Democrats can’t afford to lose the race if they want to retake the chamber. A few recent polls say it’s quite close.

A poll from a key race this week gave Democrats a bit of a scare. While the national polling picture for Senate Democrats has brightened recently, a poll from the New York Times and Siena College released Monday showed the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Gary Peters, just one percentage point ahead of his Republican challenger, John James.

Importantly, that poll is an outlier — Peters has led almost every poll this year and is up by 5 points in the RealClearPolitics average. But given Trump’s unexpected win in Michigan in 2016, Democrats have reason to be wary of surprises in the state. Losing that Michigan Senate seat could be devastating for any governing agenda Democrats have in 2021.

Peters is one of just two Senate Democrats running for reelection this year in a state Trump won (the other is Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who is expected to lose). He’s also the only Democrat in a competitive…


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