This is an unbiased comparison of the political positions and policies of Debbie Stabenow and Pete Hoekstra, candidates for the 2012 U.S. Senate Elections in Michigan.

Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat and the incumbent, beat Republican nominee Peter "Pete" Hoekstra to win re-election to a third term.

Comparison chart

Debbie Stabenow versus Pete Hoekstra comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartDebbie StabenowPete Hoekstra
  • current rating is 3.32/5
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(44 ratings)
  • current rating is 3.56/5
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(45 ratings)
Debbie StabenowPete Hoekstra
Political Party Democrat Republican
Hometown Gladwin, Michigan Gronigen, the Netherlands
Date of birth April 29th 1950 October 30th 1953
Religion Methodist Christian Reformed Church
Tax Policy Supports increase in tax for those earning over $1 million. Replace income tax with sales tax; repeal estate tax
Social Security Opposes privatization Supports reform
Healthcare Supports the Affordable Care Act Opposes Affordable Care Act
Medicare Opposes reform Supports reform
Abortion Supports legal abortion Opposes legal abortion
Gay Rights Supports gay marriage Opposes gay marriage
Immigration Opposes comprehensive reform. Supports building a fence along the Mexican border.
Education Supports increased funding for education. Opposes increased federal funding for education.
Gun Control No clear stance Opposes increased gun control
Energy Policy Supports energy independence and the research of alternative energy sources. Supports drilling for oil; opposes research into alternative energy sources.
Environmental Policy Aims to protect Great Lakes from drilling. Supports deauthorizing “critical habitat” and speeding up forest thinning projects.
Iran Supports economics sanctions Supports economic sanctions
Iraq Supported withdrawal of troops. Opposed withdrawal of troops.
Logo of Republican and Democratic parties
Logo of Republican and Democratic parties

Early Life and Career

Debbie Stabenow was born in Gladwin, Michigan and received a BA from Michigan State University in 1972. She worked as a social worker before serving in the Michigan House of Representatives between 1979 and 1990. She was in the US House of Representatives between 1994 and 2000, when she became a Senator for Michigan.

Pete Hoekstra was born in Gronigen in the Netherlands. He moved to the US aged three and received a BA in political science from Hope College in 1975. He earned his MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in 1977 before joining the office furniture company Herman Miller. Hoekstra served in the US House of Representatives between 1992 and 2011.

Differences in Economic Policy

Tax Policy

Debbie Stabenow supports raising taxes for people earning over $1 million. She opposed repealing the estate tax and has opposed many tax cuts, including for small businesses. [1]

Pete Hoekstra supports the simplification of the tax system. He wants to eliminate the estate tax and replace income tax with a national sales tax. [2]

Social Security

Debbie Stabenow opposes the privatization of Social Security. [3]

Pete Hoekstra supports reforming Social Security. [4]

Healthcare Policy

Debbie Stabenow supports the Affordable Care Act and considers health care to be a right, not a privilege. [5]

Pete Hoekstra opposes national health care reform, but aims to reform Medicare. [6]

Social Issues


Debbie Stabenow supports legal abortion. [7]

Pete Hoekstra opposes legal abortion. He voted to ban partial-birth abortion and to grant the pre-born equal protection under the 14th Amendment. [8]


Debbie Stabenow opposes comprehensive immigration reform. She supports building a fence along the Mexican border but believes illegal immigrants should be able to participate in Social Security. She opposes declaring English the official language of the US. [9]

Pete Hoekstra supports building a fence along the Mexican border. He also supports reporting illegal immigrants who receive hospital treatment and declaring English to be the official language of the US. [10]

Gay rights

Debbie Stabenow voted against constitutional amendments to define marriage as between one man and one woman. She supported bills to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and supports adding sexual orientation to the definition of hate crimes. [11]

Pete Hoekstra opposes gay marriage and supports the bill to constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman. He supports banning gay adoption and opposes prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. [12]

Education Policy

Debbie Stabenow supported additional federal funding for education. She supports smaller class sizes, increased funding for student testing and the choice for parents between charter and public schools. [13]

Pete Hoekstra opposes increased federal funding for education. He opposes requiring states to test students and supports vouchers for private and parochial schools. [14]

Gun Control

Debbie Stabenow has not spoken about gun control policy.

Pete Hoekstra was rated A by the NRA. He opposes laws regarding gun registration and supported decreasing the waiting period to purchase a gun. [15]

Energy Policy

Debbie Stabenow supports US energy independence and wants to increase research into solar, wind and biofuels to end dependence on foreign oil. [16]

Pete Hoekstra opposes providing tax credits or incentives for renewable energy. He opposes investing in biofuels and supports the construction of new oil refineries. He opposes limits on CO2 emissions. [17]

Environmental Policy

Debbie Stabenow has passed several bills banning oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes and providing funding to improve the parks and protect their natural resources. [18]

Pete Hoekstra voted to deauthorize “Critical habitats” for endangered species and supported speeding up the approval process of forest thinning projects. [19]

Differences in Foreign Policy

Position on Iran

Debbie Stabenow supports economic sanctions against Iran until it ends its nuclear program. [20]

Pete Hoekstra supports economic sanctions against Iran. [21]

Position on Iraq

Debbie Stabenow supported the removal of troops from Iraq. [22]

Pete Hoekstra voted against redeploying troops out of Iraq. [23]

Stabenow vs Hoekstra in Opinion Polls

Stabenow leads Hoekstra in early opinion polls in the state.

Poll source Date(s)
Debbie Stabenow (D) Pete Hoekstra (R)
Glengariff October 6–8, 2012 50.1% 37.5%
EPIC-MRA October 4–6, 2012 55% 35%
EPIC-MRA September 8–10, 2012 49% 38%
Public Policy Polling August 31–September 2, 2012 50% 41%
EPIC-MRA August 28, 2012 51% 44%
Mitchell Research August 23, 2012 44% 45%
Detroit News August 18–20, 2012 48% 40%
Bouydon-Foster August 16, 2012 46% 48%
Bouydon-Foster July 28, 2012 53% 43%
EPIC-MRA July 24–31, 2012 49% 35%
Rasmussen Reports July 23, 2012 46% 40%
Public Policy Polling July 21–23, 2012 52% 38%
NBC News/Marist June 24-25, 2012 49% 37%
Rasmussen Reports June 14, 2012 48% 39%
EPIC-MRA June 2-5, 2012 49% 38%
Public Policy Polling May 24-27, 2012 53% 37%
NBC News/Marist February 19-20, 2012 53% 32%
Public Policy Polling February 10-12, 2012 51% 37%
EPIC-MRA November 13-16, 2011 48% 42%
EPIC-MRA August 13-16, 2011 47% 38%
Public Policy Polling July 21-24, 2011 50% 41%
Public Policy Polling March 18-20, 2011 50% 38%
EPIC-MRA February 12-17, 2011 44% 42%
Public Policy Polling December 3-6, 2010 45% 44%


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