Striking distance, or striking out?
A poll commissioned by Democratic candidate Jess King and conducted by Public Policy Polling shows her trailing incumbent Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) by 9 points.
The poll of likely voters shows Smucker leading King 44% to 35%, while 21% remain undecided. King’s campaign noted that President Trump won the district by over 25 points in 2016.
“Voters have a real hunger for a representative who will stand up to the establishment in both parties,” said King in a press release. “Democrats, Republicans, and independents all are looking for someone who will work for the people of Pennsylvania – not the wealthy special interests who fund my opponent’s campaign.”
PPP surveyed 552 voters from September 12-13, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2%.
When asked if Smucker deserves reelection, 41% said he deserves another term and the same percent said it was time for someone new, with 18% saying they were not sure. The campaign also shared that after hearing about the Democratic candidate’s “message,” the poll shows Smucker leading with 41% to King’s 40%, while 19% were undecided.
As with any internal polling, its results should be taken with a healthy grain of salt. The fact that King trails even in a publicly-released internal poll underscores that Smucker is the clear favorite in the race.
Smucker’s campaign dismissed the survey.
“When your desperate opponent releases internal polls showing them losing badly, you know the real numbers are worse,” said Smucker for Congress campaign spokesman Mike Barley. “Congressman Lloyd Smucker isn’t focused on partisan polls or his opponent’s attempt to grab headlines – he is focused on talking to voters about their concerns and the issues most important to them. Voters aren’t looking for a Representative like Jess King who will support Nancy Pelosi and extreme liberal policies of higher taxes, more Obamacare and amnesty for illegal immigrants.”
King has said she would not vote for Pelosi for Speaker of the House.
“It’s remarkable Jess King has made this race a single-digit contest less than two years after Trump won it by 26 points,” said Jim Williams, a PPP polling analyst. “And Rep. Smucker should be very concerned that – in such a historically Republican area – he is close to being underwater on favorability and as many voters want someone new as say he should be re-elected.”
58% of those polled said they voted for President Trump in 2016, with 35% saying they voted for Sec. Hillary Clinton, but the pollster did not ask for their current approval rating of the President.
King has been a stronger than average challenger in a district which favors the GOP. She has demonstrated a robust grassroots fundraising operation, ending the second quarter with more cash on hand the the incumbent. Smucker overcame a significant primary challenge in May.
Smucker is one of the Republicans who benefitted from the Supreme Court’s redistricting plan, tilting 9 points to the right under the new map.