New Poll: Todd Courser Running Third in Historic Special Election

Disgraced ex-Representative trails candidate Jan Peabody, school board President Gary Howell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                     Contact:                                                                                                                                       Susan J. Demas, Inside Michigan Politics Publisher,  Ed Sarpolus, Target Insyght Executive Director,      Joshua Pugh, Grassroots Midwest Director of Communications Strategy, 517-575-7180, 

According to a new poll released today by Grassroots Midwest, Inside Michigan Politics, and Target Insyght, Jan Peabody has a narrow early lead in the special election in Michigan’s 82nd House District to fill the vacant seat of ex-Rep. Todd Courser (R-Silverwood), holding the support of 20 percent of likely Republican primary voters. Courser is tied for third with Ian Kempf, with 9 percent. Lapeer County ISD board President Gary Howell is second with 11 percent.

Interestingly, 21 percent of Republican primary voters would support the eventual Democratic nominee over Todd Courser, while 47 percent would support another candidate or simply stay home, should Courser secure the Republican nomination.

Courser has a favorability rating of 19 percent, yet fewer than half of respondents who view him favorably would vote for him.

“The Republican establishment has to be thrilled with these results,” said Susan J. Demas, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics“Tea Party voters are splitting their support between multiple candidates, leaving Jan Peabody alone in first just 30 days out. She’ll have the resources to increase that lead. Peabody came within 300 votes of Courser in the 2014 primary, and already has the support of the Dick DeVos-backed Great Lakes Education Project. I’d look for more big endorsements soon.”

Michigan’s 82nd District encompasses all of Lapeer County, and has a Republican base of 58 percent,  according to Target Insyght data. Because of this, conventional wisdom would suggest that the Republican candidate, whomever he or she should be, will safely win the general election.

However, should Todd Courser somehow defy the odds and sneak through the 11-way Republican primary, Lapeer County Republicans might have second thoughts and take their chance to make history, either by supporting the Democratic nominee or staying home next March.

“Much like the residents of Elm Street and the Campers at Crystal Lake, the Lapeer County Courser monster just won’t go away. It’s the sequel nobody wanted, and it’s coming to a ballot box near you this November,” said Brian Began, Elections & Research Director of Grassroots Midwest. “This is not a conventional primary, but a 30-day sprint. Courser has a steep climb, but should he convince enough of his allies to support him in November, Republicans could again be dealing with a nightmare scenario.”

"The good news for Todd Courser is that everyone's heard of him -- 95% name ID for a former state rep. is unheard of. The very bad news is that no one likes him,” said Ed Sarpolus, Executive Director of Target Insyght. “Courser relentlessly courted media coverage during the scandal, releasing colorful Facebook posts and doing national TV. It's clear that all the attention has come with a price -- Courser now looks unelectable in this field."

Based on analysis of historical data, Grassroots Midwest believes 13,500 will likely vote in the GOP primary -- meaning a candidate could win with as few as 2,000 votes. Between Courser’s loyalists, mischievous Democrats, and the other ten Republican candidates, the risk of Courser sneaking through the November primary seems realistic, if only he could convince more people who like him to actually vote for him. There is clearly a risk of a nightmare scenario for the GOP in this race.

This automated survey of 300 likely Republican primary voters in Michigan’s 82nd state House district was taken September 29-October 1. The margin of error is 5.7 percent. Crosstabs and demographic data are available upon request.


Inside Michigan Politics ( is the most nationally-cited political newsletter in Michigan and was founded by Bill Ballenger in 1987.

Grassroots Midwest ( is Michigan's first and only bipartisan grassroots advocacy firm. Our clients include corporations, associations, non-profits, labor unions, and political candidates, and we have a relentless focus on one outcome for our clients: winning.

Target Insyght ( is a strategic consulting, public opinion and market research firm created to offer its clients a full spectrum of professional capabilities.