The two Republicans primary challengers hoping to oust Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Blair) have their work cut out for them.
According to the latest survey from GOP pollster Harper Polling, Shuster is in a dominant position. He takes 63% of the three-way Republican primary vote and is viewed favorably by a 2-1 margin, 54% to 26%.
Art Halvorson, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and businessman who has already loaned his campaign $100,000, took 11%. 82% of voters didn’t have an opinion of him; those that did viewed him unfavorably 10% to 8%.
Travis Schooley, who tried and failed to get on the ballot against Shuster in 2012, and whose announcement press release included several words in ALL CAPS, took 5%. He was viewed 10% to 4% unfavorable to favorable.
“The poll shows little vulnerability for Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster in what is being billed as one of the nation’s top tea party primary challenges to a sitting Republican incumbent,” wrote pollster Brock McCleary.
Harrisburg-based Harper Polling surveyed 555 likely GOP primary voters via interactive voice response on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.16%.
McCleary formerly worked as the political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, of which Shuster was a significant supporter.
Some good news for Halvorson, who has criticized Shuster for being too far to the left: 57% of respondents said they support the tea party. The bad news: Shuster does better among self-identified tea party supporters. He has a 54% lead and is viewed favorably 60% to 24%.
Interestingly, Shuster does betterer in the geographic region that’s newest to his district. He has a 62% lead in the Pittsburgh media market to the west, much of which was added to PA-9 during redistricting. He has a smaller 47% leader in the Johnstown-Altoona market, his home base.
Shuster’s father and predecessor, former Rep. Bud Shuster, also maintains a strong positive reputation. 54% of respondents view the elder Shuster favorably and 24% unfavorably, a near mirror image of Shuster Jr.’s numbers.
Gov. Tom Corbett has a marginally positive 46% to 37% favorability rating among PA-9 Republicans.
Sen. Pat Toomey has a 45% to 21% favorability rating.