With the Michigan primary election just days away on August 3rd, there is currently no clear leader in the Republican gubernatorial race. The latest EPIC-MRA poll has the race effectively a three way tie among Attorney General Mike Cox, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, and Businessman Rick Snyder. In the Democratic primary, Virg Bernero holds a solid eight point lead over Andy Dillon.

Republican Governor Primary
EPIC-MRA (7/26-27)
Mike Cox 24
Pete Hoekstra 23
Mike Bouchard 10
Rick Snyder 26
Tom George 1
Undecided/Refused 14

Democratic Governor Primary
EPIC-MRA (7/26-27)
Andy Dillon 32
Virg Bernero 40
Undecided/Refused 28

Snyder has a mere two point lead over Cox and a three point lead over Hoekstra. Given the poll’s small sample size, 4.9% margin of error, large number of undecided voters and the difficulty of polling primaries, all three individuals seem to have a decent chance of winning the nomination on Tuesday. Snyder’s rise in the polls is quite remarkable and was in no small part a result of him being the best financed individual in the race. Snyder was able to spend millions from his own personal fortune on his campaign and it seems to have paid off.

The primaries this year seem to be dominated by extremely wealthy self-financed political novices beating veteran politicians. We’ve seen this happen in the two big GOP California primaries. It is also likely to happen in the GOP Connecticut Senate primary and in both the Florida Republican gubernatorial and Democratic senate primaries. The success of these self-financed political novices is probably a result of the general anti-establishment mode of this election that seems to favor “outsiders.” It is possible the increasing cost of running a winnable statewide campaign and the potential difficulties of raising funds in a down economy have also played a role.

I wonder how many self-financed billionaires who spend massively on their own campaign will take high office before Americans demand a system of voluntary public financing of elections so that actual middle class individuals can win important elections.