U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra of Michigan earned a lot of attention and name recognition for releasing an ad around the Super Bowl blaming China's rise on the incumbent's spending policies.
But the controversial ad -- featuring a gong, stereotypically Chinese music, a bucolic field of rice patties and an Asian woman who speaks broken English -- has backfired, according to a Tuesday survey from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling company.
The poll said 54 percent of Michigan voters were aware of the ad. Of those familiar with Hoekstra's spot, 45 percent said it made them less likely to vote for him over his opponent, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat. Only 16 percent said the ad made them more likely to vote for Hoekstra.
The ad also hurt Hoekstra's standing with independents, a group that is now supporting Stabenow by 4 percentage points. Before the ad, Hoekstra, a former GOP Congressman, was more popular with independents than his opponent.
His popularity among voters also took an 11-point nose dive since the ad debuted, as 38 percent of voters now have an unfavorable view of Hoekstra, compared to the 28 percent who have a positive view.
In a head-to-head matchup, the incumbent Democrat now holds a 14-point lead over Hoekstra, 51 to 37 percent, the poll said.
Debbie Stabenow's lead has increased and Pete Hoekstra's negatives have risen in the wake of his controversial ad, said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. It appears to have been a flop with Michigan voters.
Nonetheless, Stabenow, first elected in 2000, is far from having a clear path to reelection. She is has a 47 percent favorability rating, though 41 percent disapprove. Despite being more popular among independents than her likely-Republican opponent, unaffiliated voters still disapprove of Stabenow, 47 to 40 percent.
Here is Hoekstra's ad: