Matt Cartwright leads Rep. Tim Holden, according to an internal poll conducted for the challenger’s campaign. Cartwright, an attorney from Lackawanna County, take 42 percent of the Democratic vote to Holden’s 36 percent.
It’s a 22 point swing from a poll the campaign ran in February, which showed Holden leading 41 percent to 25 percent for Cartwright.
The poll was conducted by Thirty-Ninth Street Strategies of Washington, DC.
“Cartwright has erased Holden’s double-digit lead from February, and now has the same favorable rating as his opponent,” wrote pollster Marc Silverman. “Just as troubling for Holden is that he finds himself running in a district where his votes on health care and the environment are unpopular. Cartwright is in a strong position to win as long as he has the resources to compete with a 20-year incumbent.”
Announcing the poll results, Cartwright criticized Holden’s campaign tactics.
“He can’t win on his record, so he wants to tear me down. This is politics at its worst. They say anything, do anything approach to win at all cost. I learned from my father to always tell the truth and to never tear down another man just to build yourself up.”
The pollster interviewed 600 likely 2012 Democratic primary voters from April 2-5, 2012, with interviews apportioned geographically based on past voter turnout. Expected margin of sampling error for these results is +4.0 percent.
As with any internal polling, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Campaigns typically release their numbers for one of two reasons: to demonstrate viability or boost fundraising (or both). Results like these will likely put the race on the radar and help with both.
Update:Holden campaign manager Eric Nagy said these numbers don’t match theirs. They use pollster Alan Secrest of Secrest Strategic Services.
“Our polling shows us up by 10 points, but we’re not taking any chances. We will run like we’re down 10 points,” he said.”
“There are stark contrasts between these two candidates. While Matt Cartwright was giving money to corrupt judges in the ‘Kids For Cash’ scandal, Tim Holden was standing shoulder to shoulder with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, fighting against Republican attacks on Social Security and Medicare.”
Despite serving for nearly two decades, Holden is on unsure footing in his newly drawn district. He retained only 20 or 22 percent of his Democratic constituents, in his home turf of Schuylkill County, while adding Dems in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Easton and elsewhere.
As Holden is less known than a typical incumbent, Cartwright is better known than a typical challenger. The poll showed Holden’s name ID at 65 percent, Cartwright’s at 58 percent.
A prominent local attorney, he is known for legal advice segments which have aired on local news for years in the Scranton market (which covers over 70 percent of the district). His law firm’s ties also help him raise money: about $600,000 so far including a $300,000 self-loan. Holden will report about $750,000 on hand, his campaign has said.
Both have been running television ads for weeks, with Holden going negative twice so far. Cartwright hasn’t needed to throw any punches on TV to date; the Campaign for Primary Accountability has done it for him. The Super PAC began airing ads last week and has already put $70,000 on the air against Holden.
Here’s the full polling memo:
TO: Interested Parties
FR: Marc Silverman
RE: Polling Results in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District Democratic Primary
Recent polling in Pennsylvania’s newly drawn 17th Congressional district shows that with less than three weeks until the primary, Matt Cartwright now leads Tim Holden. Cartwright has erased Holden’s double-digit lead from February, and now has the same favorable rating as his opponent. Just as troubling for Holden is that he finds himself running in a district where his votes on health care and the environment are unpopular. Cartwright is in a strong position to win as long as he has the resources to compete with a 20-year incumbent.
Cartwright now leads Holden.
Cartwright has a six-point lead over Holden (42% Cartwright / 36% Holden / 22% undecided). This is a 22-point swing since February when Holden led by 16 points (25% Cartwright / 41% Holden / 34% undecided).
Candidate support measures.
Cartwright receives a 51% favorable / 7% unfavorable rating, with 42% unable to identify him. This is a 32-point increase since February, when only 26% of voters could identify him (22% favorable / 4% unfavorable / 76% don’t know).
Voters give Holden a 51% favorable / 14% unfavorable rating, while 35% cannot identify him. This is only a 15-point gain in name identification since February (40% favorable / 10% unfavorable / 50% don’t know).