PoliticsPA: Gerlach tries to scare Welch off with internal poll
By Alex Roarty
PoliticsPA Staff Writer
An internal poll released by Republican Jim Gerlach’s congressional campaign Tuesday shows him beating inter-party opponent Steve Welch by nearly 70 percentage points in a primary matchup, although the incumbent did not reveal what questions it asked to produce the results.
Questions asked in internal polls could push respondents to answer a certain way, making the results unreliable.
The poll, which the campaign said was conducted last week to 300 likely Republican primary voters, showed Gerlach beating Welch 71 percent to 6 percent. It also reported his lead over the Chester County businessman increases among self-described “very conservative” Republicans, 75 percent to 6 percent.
Welch has tried to court the party’s right-wing against Gerlach, whom he portrays as a political opportunist emblematic of a failed government in Washington.
Gerlach stunned many observers earlier this year when he ended his gubernatorial campaign to seek re-election in the 6th Congressional District. The move forced at least two prominent Republicans running to replace him, state Rep. Curt Schroder and former Revenue Secretary Howard Cohen, to end their campaigns, but the personally wealthy Welch remained.
Although he faces long odds to defeat the incumbent, Welch does hold a significant financial advantage over Gerlach, whose gubernatorial run left his congressional campaign broke. Republican officials in the area, who almost unanimously support the incumbent, worried that a primary opponent would force him to use resources better conserved for a general election against a potentially well-funded Democrat.
Gerlach’s campaign, in a press release attached to the poll’s results, argued Welch’s campaign serves only Democrats.
“Republican voters in southeast Pennsylvania know Jim very well and they have already reached the conclusion that he is doing a good job in Congress and should be returned to Washington for another term,” said Chris Wilson, the campaign’s pollster. “With solid numbers like these, Jim is a virtual lock to win the Republican primary. Any primary challenge to Jim Gerlach at this point would only serve Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in Washington.”
In response to Tuesday’s story about Congressman Gerlach’s internal poll, the firm that conducted the survey, Wilson Research Strategies, sent PoliticsPA some of the questions it asked respondents.
The questions are in bold:
And thinking some about the Republican primary elections coming up in May… if the Republican Primary Election for United States Congress were held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were (Order of names randomized for each respondent)
Now I am going to read you a list of names of people active in politics. After I read each one, please tell me if you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of that person. If I read you one you have never heard of, just tell me and we’ll move on to the next person.
The (first/next) one is…
News of the poll came on the same day the Welch campaign issued a release saying he was the “overwhelming” winner of a tea party straw poll held in southeast Pennsylvania last week.