Closing the gap?
A new poll released today from Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a conservative group, shows GOP candidates for Governor and Senate are each trailing by less than 3 points to the Democratic incumbents.
The polling showed Gov. Tom Wolf leading Scott Wagner 46% to 43%. Sen. Bob Casey leads Rep. Lou Barletta 47% to 45%.
The polling, conducted via IVR interviews from Aug. 13-15, included 2,012 likely voters.
It’s CLF’s first ever publicly-released poll and it predicts a more conservative electorate than public polls. 53% of those polled identified as either very conservative or somewhat conservative. Only20% polled considered themselves very liberal or somewhat liberal. The largest group identified themselves as moderate, with 28%.
Many candidates and causes release internal polling to inform the narrative of a campaign. Unlike most others, CLF conducted the poll in-house versus hiring a polling firm.
“When you look at the issues most important to voters in this poll, there’s no doubt why Scott Wagner is surging,” said Wagner campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo. “Taxes and Government Spending” was the most important issue for those polled, coming in at 30.8%.
The economy, healthcare, and education in that order followed as the next most important issues for those polled, all finishing with over 10%. Infrastructure and transportation, reforming state government, open space and environment, crime and safety, and social issues did not surpass the double digit threshold for most important issue.
“The more Pennsylvanians see the contrast between the candidates on these major issues, the more gains Scott (Wagner) will make, and we’re confident he will win in November,” Romeo said.
“We recruit, endorse, and raise money for candidates for state office who champion and lead on the fundamental American principles of free-enterprise, limited government, and personal responsibility,” the website states. “We invest in people who demonstrate the ability to lead the political and policy change that will create economic growth and opportunity for the people of Pennsylvania.”
The Wolf campaign does not see see the polling as relevant to the race.
“Scott Wagner should stop releasing fake polls and release his tax returns,” said Gov. Wolf’s campaign communications director, Beth Melena.
Jeff Kendall, Chairman of the Commonwealth Leaders Fund, defended the polling released today and said he believes that Pennsylvania is “generally a conservative state.”
“Commonwealth Leaders Fund is conducting internal polls, and we may release more in the future,” Kendall said. “Pennsylvania is generally a conservative state, not necessarily a Republican state but culturally conservative. In the Northeast it is the only state that went for Trump, and if you look at the abortion and gun laws in Pennsylvania, it reflects its historic conservative bent.”
Kendall argued that most other polling outlets last released surveys two months ago, before the candidates weren’t releasing television ads for the general election. He was also very critical of two specific polling outlets, Suffolk and Franklin & Marshall.
Barletta’s campaign boasted about the poll numbers Monday.
BREAKING! A new independent poll has us trailing Senator Casey by ONLY 2 POINTS! Help us keep the momentum going by making a donation to our campaign here: https://t.co/JTBojr2PQL.
— Lou Barletta (@louforsenate) August 20, 2018
Max Steele, Communications Director for Sen. Casey’s campaign, did not express feeling threatened with these newly released numbers.
— Max Steele (@maxasteele) August 20, 2018
53% polled strongly approved or somewhat approved of President Trump’s job performance, while 45% either strongly disapproved or somewhat disapproved. The Real Clear Politics average for President Trump across the U.S. has 52% disapproving of his job performance, while 44% approved.