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MoveOn/PPP Polls: Pitts Vulnerable, Dent Safe

Dent Pitts
Dent, left, and Pitts

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Chester) loses to an unnamed Democratic challenger in a poll commissioned by liberal group and conducted by Public Policy Polling. Meanwhile his colleague Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Lehigh) would beat a Democratic challenger by a healthy margin.

They’re the latest among dozens of matching polls that MoveOn and PPP put in the field in response to the government shutdown. They polled PA-6, PA-7 and PA-8 so far.

PA-16, Rep. Joe Pitts

PPP surveyed 726 registered voters in PA-16 via interactive voice response on Oct. 15 and 16, just before the shutdown ended. The margin of error is roughly plus or minus 3.6%.

Pitts earned a negative job approval rating, 50% to 34%, and lost to a generic Democratic opponent 44% to 40%.

62% said that they disapproved of the shutdown as a tactic to prevent the enactment of the health care law (aka the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare). 31% support it.

Voters oppose using the debt limit as a means to block Obamacare 56% to 34%.

46% responded that they would be less likely to vote for Pitts if he supported a shutdown and, after being told that he did, went in favor of a generic Democrat 48% to 40%.

Voters had a negative view of the Tea Party, 50% to 39%.

PA-15, Rep. Charlie Dent

PPP surveyed 1,424 registered voters in PA-15 on Oct. 17 and 18, after the shutdown ended. The margin of error is roughly plus or minus 2.6%.

Unlike most other Republicans PPP tested with MoveOn, Dent’s numbers are positive – but the results cannot be construed as an apples-to-apples comparison. PPP ran the Dent poll after the shutdown ended.

His job approval rating was 40% while 38% disapproved. He overcame a generic Democratic challenger by a wide margin, 48% to 35%.

PA-15 voters opposed using a shutdown to block Obamacare 60% to 33% and opposed using the debt limit to do the same, 53% to 34%.

45% said they’d be less likely to vote for Dent if he supported a shutdown; 35% said more supportive.

Told “Now that you know Congressman Dent supported the government shutdown,” voters said they’d still support Dent, 45% to 40%. Dent was vocal in his criticism of his party’s shutdown tactic, although he does support repealing Obamacare.

The Tea Party was viewed unfavorably, 49% to 39%.

Grains of salt

As with any poll commissioned by an interest group, the results should be taken with a grain of salt. The poll is part of a national push by to pressure Republicans in swing districts and build a narrative that the shutdown will endanger otherwise safe incumbents.

The idea that Pitts is in any real danger this cycle is highly suspect. Although his district became slightly less Republican (a Cook PVI of R+8 before, R+6 now), he’s far away from any realistic Democratic target lists.

He has no declared opponent at present and has over $300,000 on hand. Pitts has also weathered every other Democratic storm; in 2012, 2008 and 2006, he won by approximately a 16% margin. If Democrats couldn’t topple him in their strong presidential years, it is unlikely that he will fall to a yet unnamed challenger in a midterm election.

Dent’s numbers are less illuminating given that the poll was conducted after the shutdown ended. Like Pitts, he has no declared opponent, and he has over $500,000 on hand.

One Response

  1. With the district empty of any real challengers willing to work hard it appears Joe will get another free pass from the Dems.

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