Incumbent Rep. Jim Gerlach has a healthy lead over his Democratic challenger, according to an internal poll his campaign released today.
The five-term Congressman takes 54 percent, while just 30 percent of voters favor his opponent, veteran and surgeon Manan Trivedi. 17 percent are undecided.
The survey also showed Gerlach with 92 percent name ID (55 percent favorable, 22 unfavorable), compared to just 36 percent for Trivedi (9 percent favorable, 7 unfavorable). It’s unclear how the other 20 percent of voters who have an opinion of Trivedi view him.
The pollster also notes Gerlach’s leads among three groups:
Independents (14 percent of likely voters): Gerlach 48, Trivedi 24
Seniors, 65 and up (22 percent of likely voters): Gerlach 55, Trivedi 35
Those who have heard of both Gerlach and Trivedi (35 percent of likely voters): Gerlach 51, Trivedi 39
Like any internal poll, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Campaigns release their numbers only when it serves them, usually to demonstrate their own strength, or, to deter support from their opponent.
In this instance, the case the Republican’s team is making is this: for all of Trivedi’s vigor and support from national Democrats, he’s not a viable candidate.
Trivedi has named by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as one of the top challengers in the nation, and as of the latest campaign finance report has more cash on hand than any other Dem challenger in PA ($527,000 on hand to Gerlach’s $885,000).
The numbers are similar to those released in a Gerlach poll from March, where he lead Trivedi 55 to 23. Trivedi’s camp simultaneously released its own poll which showed a much closer race: Gerlach 45, Trivedi 33.
Trivedi spokesman Daren Berringer noted that Gerlach polls from July and September 2010 were significantly off: Gerlach’s campaign released internal polls showing him up 29 and 30 points, respectively, but the Congressman beat Trivedi by less than half that: 14 points, 57 to 43.
Berringer dinged Gerlach, who was elected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
“We have seen these wild poll results too many times from Congressman Gerlach to know better than chase him down this rabbit hole,” Berringer said. “We wish Jim Gerlach a wonderful time as he enjoys himself at the Republican Party convention in Tampa, FL with all the other GOP political insiders. Dr. Manan Trivedi will just keep working here at home.”
Both candidates have been campaigning steadily since, and raising money at a steady clip, though neither is yet on the air.
Gerlach is an escape artist, perennially on Dem target lists but always remaining out of reach. He defeated Trivedi in 2010 by just over 14 percent. During the Democratic wave of 2008, he won by about 4 percent.
Now, thanks to redistricting, the district is slightly Republican-leaning (whereas before it leaned fairly well Democratic).
The silver lining for Trivedi? President Obama won the new configuration of the 6th district by a healthy 7 point margin in 2008, meaning there is room for a Democratic surge. Additionally, almost exactly 50 percent of voters in the district are new to Gerlach, which could mitigate his advantage as an incumbent – though these poll results suggest that he does not lack for named ID.
Polling firm WPA Opinion Research conducted this survey of 400 likely PA-6 voters via live interviews from August 20 to 21, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 4.9 percent. Here’s the pollster’s description of its methodology: “The sample for this survey was stratified based on party, gender, age, ethnicity, and geography. This methodology allows us to minimize post-survey ‘weighting’ which can reduce the reliability of survey results.”