By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
If Bob Casey is smiling this morning, it might be because of his numbers in the latest Quinnipiac poll. It could be due to the fact that Republicans have yet to recruit a top tier candidate to challenge him. Or, it could just be because he smiles a lot.
Voters say 47 – 31 percent, including 46 – 34 percent among independent voters, that Casey deserves to be re-elected in 2012. That compares to his 46 to 34 percent in the last Quinnipiac poll.
First-term Sen. Pat Toomey has a 45 – 28 percent approval rating.
“Running against an unnamed Republican challenger, Casey wins 47 – 32 percent, including 44 – 26 percent among independent voters,” Quinnipiac said in its poll release. That the polling institute didn’t even match Casey against an opponent – attorney Marc Scaringi and Tea Party leader Laureen Cummings have each declared a challenge to the Senator – is indicative of Republicans’ recruiting situation.
“You can’t beat somebody with nobody and right now nobody is emerging as a possible Republican challenger to Sen. Bob Casey, Jr.,” Malloy said.
The latest rumors have it that prospective candidate State Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) is leaning away from the race, and that the PAGOP is working to recruit a wealthy businessman to the race who can self-fund.
Further discouraging may be Casey’s recent uptick in fundraising. He brought in $1.1 million last quarter and is estimated to raise another $1 to $1.5 million this quarter. He currently has $2.1 million cash-on-hand.
The silver lining for the GOP is that Casey’s numbers aren’t astronomical – not high enough to preclude a serious challenge.
“Pennsylvania voters like their senior senator, but more than one-in-four are undecided,” said Malloy. “And in three measures, job approval, deserves reelection and Casey v. nobody, Casey is short of that magic 50 percent mark that allows incumbents to sleep more comfortably at night.”
But in a campaign that will pit a relative unknown against one of the best-known and most popular political names in the state – a challenge that will probably require over $10 million in fundraising – Republicans are running out of time.