His high-profile primary victory over fellow Rep. Jason Altmire apparently boosted Critz’s name ID: 57 percent of voters surveyed had an opinion of him (38 percent positive, 19 percent negative). The residual name ID from Rothfus’s own race against Altmire, in 2010 when he lost by 1.4 percent, has faded a bit more. Just 21 percent of voters had an opinion of Rothfus (14 percent positive, 7 percent negative).
In the Johnstown area of the district currently represented by Critz (about 30 percent of the district overall) he holds a 60 to 34 percent lead.
In a press release announcing the poll, Critz credited his policy positions.
“These results show that Western Pennsylvania voters know that I made creating jobs my top priority in Congress,” Critz said. “They know that I am fighting to stop China from manipulating their currency to get an unfair advantage over Pennsylvania companies and to cut regulations on small businesses, and I oppose bad trade deals because they will outsource jobs.”
Rothfus’ Campaign Manager Jon Raso said that having only a 10-point lead is nothing for the Critz campaign to brag about.
“To be under 50 percent and have only a 10-point margin in his own poll spells doom for the current liberal Congressman from Johnstown. As voters continue…to feel the resulting pain of 40 straight months of over 8 percent unemployment…Keith Rothfus has will close the margin rather quickly, and Congressman Critz won’t be able to salvage his failing political career.”
The 12th district race promises to be one of if not the top congressional contest in PA in 2012. Both campaign committees have set aside millions of dollars in TV airtime for the fall campaign.
Critz, of Cambria County, was a long time staffer to the late Rep. John Murtha; Rothfus is an attorney in Allegheny County.
Per usual, PoliticsPA advises that internal polls be taken with a grain of salt. Typically, campaigns release their numbers to boost fundraising and perceptions of their viability. In this case, the poll could help change the subject away from Critz’s hesitance to get too close to President Obama, highlighted by the news that he will not attend the Democratic National Convention.
The poll was conducted from June 13 to 15 by Global Strategy Group. They surveyed 402 likely voters and balanced to obtain reflective geographic and demographic proportions. The full polling memo is here (PDF).