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Leach Touts Lead in Internal Poll

State Senator Daylin Leach has rebuffed numerous calls for his resignation. Five Democrats are running against him. But according to an internal poll, he maintains the inside track for renomination. 

A poll by Chism Strategies, conducted for state Leach’s (D-Montgomery) campaign shows that nearly half of likely 2020 Democratic primary election voters plan to support him in April. 

The poll comprises 400 interviews of likely Democratic primary voters and has a margin of error of ± 4.9%. It found that 47% of respondents are “definitely or likely” voting for Leach, while 18% said they are “definitely or likely” voting for another candidate, and 35% saying they are undecided. 59% of the respondents completed the survey via SMS, while 41% were landline interviews using IVR technology. 

While the memo was released on January 6, the actual survey of likely voters was conducted from Dec. 2-4, 2019. 

Leach is currently seeking a fourth term in the state Senate despite calls to resign from Gov. Tom Wolf, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, and a host of other Democrats. He has been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate workplace conduct. According to a final report by the lawyers from the firm Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC, Leach did not break any federal discrimination laws, although the same report concluded that Leach engaged in “workplace humor that was at times ‘unquestionsably sexual in nature.’” Separately, Leach has apologized for incidents of inappropriate conduct with staff members. He has refused to resign. 

He faces five primary challengers, who the poll memo does not mention by name.

As with any internal poll, its results should be taken with a grain of salt. Candidates often commission polling and release abbreviated memos to the public to emphasize positive results. Leach’s best hope for renomination is to demonstrate support within his district and prevent critics from coalescing around a single one of his multiple challengers. 

To that end, the memo describes Leach as the “prohibitive favorite to be renominated in a head-to-head race. It would be extremely difficult to defeat Senator Leach in a multi-candidate field.” 

The memo says 52% of men support his re-election, while 21% oppose it. Likewise the memo says 44% of women support his re-election bid, while 17% say they oppose it. 

Multiple challengers to Leach’s reelection bid dismissed the poll, in some cases suggesting it is false. 

“This is not the first time a struggling campaign released internal polling to drum up fabricated support to reach for silver linings,” said Daniel Kalai, Campaign Manager for Linda Fields. “This tactic is used to try to persuade donors to help with low-performing fundraising. Often times this backfires and is seen by stakeholders as a sign of desperation, especially this early on in the race.”

The Fields campaign added that they believe the polling was “slanted,” although they agree that if the primary has multiple candidates after petitions, Leach’s chances of reelection are “very high.” The Fields spokesperson also that they are focused on their campaign and boasted about the amount of money she has raised thus far in the campaign. 

Amanda Cappelletti’s campaign believe the 47% shows a sign of weakness. 

“The Senator’s self-congratulatory poll reveals that a state legislator of nearly 20 years can only command a 47 percent approval rating in a poll likely designed to benefit him,” Cappelletti said in a statement. “The time has come for change; we need effective representation in the State’s 17th Senatorial District.” 

Elvira Berry’s campaign manager, Rebecca Johnson, said that the only poll that matters is the poll on primary day adding that they are confident they will defeat the incumbent and the rest of the field. 

Shae Ashe’s campaign responded by saying their campaign has no comment on the internal poll, but said they are open to joining all of the candidates in the race to “conduct an independent and accurate poll.” 

Sara Atkins was the lone Democratic challenger to decline to comment for the story. None of the candidates released or discussed internal polling of their own. 

A spokesperson from Leach’s campaign confirmed to PoliticsPA that the poll by Mississippi-based Chism Strategies was done for their campaign and they believe the results show that the incumbent is the favorite to win another term. 

“I was very pleased with the results of the poll,” said Dan Ford, Strategic Advisor for Leach’s Senate campaign. “I think it shows that it is going to take a monumental effort and a good bit of luck for anyone to beat him.”

8 Responses

  1. when is state representative Ben Sanchez is going to announce his state senate run in Leach’s District in 2020.

    1. Huh? Ben Sanchez doesn’t live in Daylin Leach’s District (He’s not even that close). Mary Jo Daley should be the one gunning for that seat

  2. Amanda Cappelletti’s has the best response, but I think it shows 100% sign of weakness on Daylin’s part. Internal polls are pure bullsh*t. I don’t know if Daylin has 47% support in his own household.

    The challengers cannot hope to remove him if there is more than one challenger. They need to get together and either draw straws or go “Hunger Games” and pick a SINGLE opponent to challenge Daylin. ANY other strategy just guarantees him the nomination.

    1. She’s completely right. Any incumbent under 50% is vulnerable, particularly one where he is polling under 50% against no one in particular.

    2. David never fails to lack intellectual honesty in his responses but his fervor and committment to his “cause” are always laudible.

      The idea that internal polls are male cow excrement is silly. While they may be somewhat less accurate than public polls (nobody is doing public polls on state senate primaries) they are used by campaigns to make strategic decisions and determine resource allocation. For that reason they need to be as accurate as possible.

      If anything the fact that the Leach campaign would release a public poll is noteworthy and should be concerning…to his opponents and detractors. The reality is that after endless (baseless) mudslinging they have barely made a dent in his electability.
      It is time for the naysayers to go home. Come April 29th Senator Leach will very likely be the nominee and continue his 18 year history of being a progressive champion.

      1. Mike D-

        There are REAL internal polls, which are useful to the campaigns and there are separately bullsh*t numbers announced publicly. Sometimes the bullsh*t numbers are completely made up or from push-polls or based on weak/misleading descriptions of the opponents or are taken from non-random/biased samples of voters. (like Daylin’s donor list, LOL 🙂 )

        The PoliticsPA article itself states: “As with any internal poll, its results should be taken with a grain of salt. Candidates often commission polling and release abbreviated memos to the public to emphasize positive results.”

        Against a wide field of unknown opponents, of course Daylin is guaranteed to win. But, if there were a SINGLE opponent, that person could conceivably win the party endorsement and be on all the sample ballots.

        Of course, none of the polling changes the fact that Daylin is a complete @sshole and there are plenty of progressives in the 17th who do a better job.

  3. The Dem self righteous caucus has a problem. You can’t beat someone with no one and Leachs opponents are numerous and nobodys. Though one can be skeptical of this type of poll from a place that is not a brand name, there is no reason to doubt its validity. Costa and his team might think Leach is going to go away, but this just confirms what most people thought was the case. My guess is the respondents weren’t even smoking pot when they participated, or maybe they were?

  4. This has not been an easy time for the State Senate Democratic Leadership. Sen Yudichak leaving the party to caucus with the Senate Republicans was a tough break and now Sen Leach prevailing in a recent poll only ads to the mix. Clearly, the endless and pointless calls for resignation of Sen Leach were an attempt to bypass the will of the people with the judgment of numerous leaders when ultimately it is the will of the voter that prevails. Sen Leach needs to run for the office as he is doing and allow for the people to vote as they wish.

  • Who are you voting for in the PA Supreme Court race?

    • Dan McCaffery (61%)
    • Carolyn Carluccio (37%)
    • Still undecided (2%)

    Total Voters: 344

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