Presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore arent the only ones running neck-and-neck for the Nov. 7 election.
A poll released Monday by EPIC/MRA, a Lansing-based polling firm, showed state Sen. Dianne Byrum, D-Onondaga, has pulled ahead of fellow Sen. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, by 1 percent. The two are running for the hotly contested 8th District Congressional seat left vacant by U.S. Rep. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.
The poll shows Byrum leading 45 percent to Rogers 44 percent with a margin of error of 5 percent. Since Byrums lead is within the margin of error, the two are considered to be statistically tied. The poll of 400 voters was conducted between Oct. 24 and 26 for the Detroit Free Press and WNEM-TV.
Ed Sarpolus, vice president of EPIC/MRA, said more people will be drawn to the polls by the presidential and U.S. Senate race, so the number of people voting for Byrum or Rogers will increase.
Theyll have to be too careful not to use too much negative campaigning because it will actually bring down their numbers (in the polls), Sarpolus said.
The poll showed Byrum to be the favorite among women, 48 percent to 41 percent, while Rogers was the favorite among men, 46 to 41 percent. Byrum also led in Ingham County, 53 percent to 36 percent. Rogers led in his home county of Livingston, 64 percent to 27 percent.
John Nevin, Rogers campaign manager, said because the poll numbers are so close, the result of the election will depend on the number of people each campaign can reach.
Weve said all along that this was going to be a cliffhanger, Nevin said. Were going to work harder to shake hands with people in the next seven days.
Whoever wins this race will be the one who works the hardest - literally.
Tom Russell, Byrums campaign manager, said they plan to bring Byrum out more to meet voters.
(Byrum) does spend a lot more time meeting people, Russell said. Weve done all the fund-raising and bought the TV time. Its really time to take it to the voters.
Both campaigns said theyve benefited from appearances by other public figures. Bob Dole will be in Lansing on Wednesday to campaign for Rogers. Al Gores appearance in East Lansing on Sunday also stirred some excitement among voters, Russell said.
Having Gore in for Sunday was really perfect timing, Russell said. Were starting to see a real buzz. A lot of the Democrats that may not have been so excited before really are now.
While both campaigns are focusing on meeting more people and winning more votes, they also worry the other campaign is working to suppress votes.
We have a completely different strategy than (Byrums campaign), Nevin said. Were not trying to discourage Democrats from voting by being negative about Byrum.
Were encouraging everyone to vote and being positive about Rogers.
Russell said hes worried Rogers campaigning is intimidating voters, although he agrees the campaign has been friendly for the most part.
We do worry a little about (intimidation), Russell said. Theres no place for that kind of campaigning here.