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By Alex Roarty

An internal poll from the Pat Meehan campaign obtained by PoliticsPA shows the Republican congressional candidate leading Democratic opponent Bryan Lentz by 21 points, 47 percent to 26 percent, largely on the strength of a nearly 2-to-1 advantage in name ID.

The poll, conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates, surveyed 400 “likely 2010 voters” from in the 7th Congressional District on June 16 and 17. The questions, provided in the polling memo, appear straight forward, and campaign officials say those surveyed were not read any information about the candidates before answering.

The matchup between Lentz and Meehan in the southeast district is arguably the state’s most competitive as both men try to take over the seat left by outgoing incumbent Democrat Joe Sestak. The Republican is generally seen as the favorite based on his local ties, fundraising and a favorable political climate, but no poll on the race had been publicly available until Tuesday.

Meehan’s advantage is built on his superior name recognition, not a surprise for the former Delaware County district attorney and Eastern District U.S. attorney. Seventy-two percent of those responding said they had heard of Meehan, compared to 39 percent for Lentz, the poll reported.

Of those who knew him, 33 percent had a favorable view of the Republican, while 12 percent held an unfavorable view. Twelve percent held a  favorable view of Lentz, compared to 7 percent who held an unfavorable view.

The news isn’t necessarily a big blow, or surprising, for Lentz, who will likely see a surge in name ID once his campaign begins advertising. The Democrat, who went unchallenged in the primary, hasn’t paid for a TV advertisement yet.

A spokesman for Lentz said the candidate isn’t focused on the poll and derided the Meehan campaign for releasing it.

“Bryan Lentz is focused on people – not polls,” said Lentz spokesperson Vincent Rongione, who until recently had been the candidate’s campaign manager. “Releasing skewed internal numbers is exactly the kind of political trick that voters are tired of, and sadly, it is exactly what we have come to expect from 30-year political insider Pat Meehan. At a time when so many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet and when so many people are hungry for honest leadership and a new kind of politics, Pat Meehan has proven himself tragically tone deaf and out of touch by engaging in these Karl Rove-type political games.”

The poll included 38 percent Democrats, 47 percent Republicans and 9  percent independents. It had a margin of error of 4.9 points.

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