Exclusive: Dem PAC Poll Finds Tight PA1 Race
A national Democratic PAC says the party has a chance to unseat Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks).
A poll shared exclusively with PoliticsPA by House Majority PAC shows that Fitzpatrick leads Democratic candidate Christina Finello, an Ivyland Borough Councilwoman, by 1 point, 45% to 44%. The rest of the polling rounds out with 6% saying that they are undecided, while 3% said neither, 2% undecided, but leaning towards Finello and 1% leaning towards Fitzpatrick.
After taking into consideration the “leaning” category, the candidates are both locked at 46%, while 8% remained undecided.
House Majority PAC is a Democratic super PAC endorsed by House Democratic leadership (it’s the counterpart to the Congressional Leadership Fund on the GOP side). It is influential in setting the national congressional target map for various left-leaning groups. However, strict rules prohibit super PACs from coordinating directly with candidates or committees like the Democractic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), so it must publicize polling it wishes to share with those entities.
The poll was conducted by Victoria Research and included 403 interviews of “active registered voters who voted in either the 2016, or 2018 General Elections, or have registered since the 2018 General.” The polling memo says that all respondents passed a voting screener where they had to confirm that they are registered and indicated they are at least 50-50 to vote in the upcoming election in November. 60% of interviews were conducted with respondents on a wireless phone. The 403 interviews were conducted between June 7-14 and the poll has a ± 4.9% margin of error at the 95% confidence level.
FiveThirtyEight doesn’t rate polling from Victoria Research, but its website says that the group provides “political research for a range of clients including Democratic party organizations, independent expenditures (IEs), political action committees (PACs), state caucuses, labor unions, non-profit organizations, and Democratic candidates at the local, state, and federal levels.”
As with any internal poll, the results should be taken with a grain of salt.
When forced to choose a side, undecideds said they prefer to vote for a Democrat in the race. 50% polled said that if the election were held today that they’d be voting for the Democratic candidate, while 38% said that they’d be voting Republican. After “leaners” are taken into consideration, 52% would like to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress, while 40% would vote Republican and 8% remain undecided.
Although Trump was neck and neck with Clinton in this district in 2016, this poll shows that former Vice President Joe Biden holds a double digit lead against Trump. 52% polled said that they’d vote for Biden for president, while 38% said that they’d vote for Trump. After “leaners” are taken into consideration, 53% support Biden, while 40% back Trump, and 7% remain undecided.
These numbers show that while the district is trending blue, the Fitzpatrick name remains strong in PA1. Democrats have long targeted the seat, which on paper is their most favorable pickup opportunity in PA. But Brian and his brother, the late Mike Fitzpatrick, frustrated those efforts cycle after cycle.
This exclusive poll with PoliticsPA, coupled with the internal poll from the Finello campaign released last Monday that showed Fitzpatrick only leading by 2 points, make the case the Dems should prioritize the race.
Television reservations made by the PAC may also indicate how much importance this specific race is to it. HMP announced in April that it is reserving $6.1 million in broadcast and cable ad space in the Philadelphia market, making it the second highest by market in the nation for HMP, only trailing Minneapolis with $6.8 million.
CLF, a GOP super PAC endorsed by House Republican leadership, announced a $6.5 million reservation for the Philadelphia market, which is their largest reservation for a single market in the nation.
The Fitzpatrick campaign dismissed the poll. They noted that he was named the most bipartisan member of Congress in 2019 as proof he’s well suited to represent the moderate district.
“Brian Fitzpatrick is ranked the #1 most independent and bipartisan representative in the entire nation, making history by breaking the all-time record score in bipartisanship,” said campaign spokeswoman Kate Constantini. “The voters in our community know that Brian Fitzpatrick and bipartisanship/independence are synonymous, and they won’t be fooled by any partisan talking points to the contrary.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee described the poll as “laughable” and questioned Finello’s commitment to oppose “outside money in politics.”
“Christina Finello has pledged to oppose outside money in politics, so does that mean she will publicly denounce this laughable poll being peddled by Nancy Pelosi’s super PAC?” said NRCC Spokesman Michael McAdams.
Finello, who defeated Skylar Hurwitz, a technology entrepreneur and small business owner in the Democratic primary, doesn’t say she explicitly opposes “outside money in politics,” but does write on her campaign website’s issues page that she supports a “constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling to end dark money’s influence on our elections.”
Fitzpatrick is currently in his second term in Congress representing the Philadelphia suburban district. He bested pro-Trump Republican Andrew Meehan in the 2020 GOP primary by 27 points, which is a closer victory than his 2018 GOP primary win over pro-Trump Republican Dean Malik by 34 points. In the general election, Fitzpatrick defeated Democrat Scott Wallace by just over 2.5 points in the November midterm. At $31M in total spending, it was the fifth-most expensive non-special congressional contest in American history. Fitzpatrick was just one of two Republicans nationwide to weather the blue wave in 2018 by winning boundaries that narrowly went to Sec. Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The polling also shows additional trouble for Trump in two key categories: the economy and healthcare.
When asked which party and candidate they’d trust more to “rebuild the economy” noting that “it is going to take a lot of work” after the coronavirus, Biden and the Democrats narrowly edge out Trump and Republicans. 50% said they’d trust Biden and the Democrats more on this specific issue, while 44% said they’d trust Trump and the Republicans more.
The gap is significantly wider in Biden and the Democrats favor when the “healthcare crisis” is the focus of the question.
56% said they’d trust Biden and the Democrats more to “address the healthcare crisis caused by the coronavirus,” while 35% said they’d trust Trump and the Republicans.
This story was updated to correct Fitzpatrick’s margin of victory over Andrew Meehan.