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PAGOP Poll: Prez, Senate Races Within the Margin of Error

If a pollster took a poll of Pennsylvania polls, he or she might conclude that today’s from Susquehanna Polling and Research is an outlier. Commissioned by the Pa. Republican Party, the survey shows both the presidential and the U.S. Senate races within the margin of error.

Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by 8.6 percent in Pa., according to an average compiled by Real Clear Politics, and Sen. Bob Casey leads Republican Tom Smith by an RCP average of 15.3 points.

So why does the SP&R poll – which shows Obama ahead just 48 percent to 47, and Casey ahead just 45 percent to 42 – differ so much from the norm?

Update: We have the toplines, embedded below. The poll’s take on down-ballot races is more in line with other public polling. The same poll shows Dem Kathleen Kane leading Republican Dave Freed for Attorney General, 40 to 35. It shows Republican John Maher leading Democrat Eugene DePasquale 34 to 33 for Pa. Auditor General. And it shows Republican Diana Irey Vaughan tied with Dem Pa. Treasurer Rob McCord, 33 to 33.

Pollster Jim Lee notes that SP&R does polling in dozens of state House districts (20 Republican-held seats, 17 Dem-held seats), which gives the firm the inside track on understanding Pennsylvania.

“I think our polling at the state House level validates what we’re seeing statewide. We don’t have the President leading above his 2008 numbers in any district we’ve surveyed in the past 3 months,” Lee said.

SP&R polled 800 likely voters (48 percent Dem, 42 percent GOP, 10 percent indy or other) using live telephone interviews from Sept. 15 to 17. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Lee says the firm has kept an eye on the race for months (Obama lead 48 to 43 in June; 46 to 43 in July; and 48 to 43 in August). It does not appear that either Green Party candidate Jill Stein or Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson – both of whom are presently on the ballot in Pa. – were included in the poll question.

Romney’s gained ground in southeast Pa., Lee said, because moderate voters there don’t respond to the President’s “class warfare” message. Obama’s margin in SEPA is half the 15 percent it was in 2008, he added. Romney has lagged in western Pa. because, well, voters there do respond to that message.

PoliticsPA always advises that internal polls be taken with a grain of salt. In this case, the GOP has an interest in making Pa. appear as competitive as possible. But the release of the numbers comes after every presidential campaign and super PAC – each of which has its own set of internal polling – has pulled television ads down from Pa. (In the Senate race, Casey and Smith have been on television continuously for several weeks.)

The poll sparked immediate skepticism from the Pa. Democratic Party. Since the party announced its toplines on Wednesday, spokesman Mark Nicastre tweeted, “This poll is complete fiction.” AFL-CIO spokesman Yuri Beckelman similarly tweeted, “BREAKING: @PAGOP calls election for Romney. Suggests OFA start laying off staff”.

“We live here, we do this every day. I wouldn’t try to BS you on this thing. Jimmy’s out there, he has a lot of integrity and honesty,” said PAGOP Chair Rob Gleason, responding to skepticism about the polls. He added that the party intended to release the full poll later Thursday.

“To say that we would be down by 11 as the Philadelphia Inquirer said is ridiculous. We lost by 10 [in 2008], things have improved over the last 4 years so that now they like Obama? That’s not true.”

He said the party has shared these numbers with the Romney campaign.

It begs the question: if this is a one point race, why did national players withdraw from Pa. and its 20 electoral votes? Gleason said they’re not gone for long.

“There will be TV commercials going up soon, I can say that for sure. I’m not exactly sure what the volume will be,” Gleason said of the Romney campaign.

Pa. Dems spokesman James Hallinan said TV ads wouldn’t change the race.

“Chairman Gleason’s announcement on a conference call this morning that the Romney campaign will be running TV ads in Pennsylvania is not surprising,” he said. “Democrats are clear eyed about what we need to do between now and Election Day and we always expected Romney and his special interest allies to make a strong play for the state in the final weeks.”

But even this poll has silver lining for Democrats. Romney is viewed unfavorably by a plurality of Pennsylvania voters, 43 percent to 41. Lee said that’s 10 points behind John McCain at this point in the 2008 cycle.

Here’s the poll’s toplines. Note: campaigns releasing polling numbers almost never include crosstabs, and this SP&R report is no different.

PAGOP Poll Toplines

12 Responses

  1. as much as i would like to believe these numbers i wonder what would happen if the racial make up reflected the actual population? 1% hispanic?

    Q23. Is your main racial heritage of Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, Asian American or anotherbackground? (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)
    1. Caucasian 698 87%
    2. African American 80 10%
    3. Hispanic/Latino 9 01%
    4. Asian or Pacific Islander 10 01%
    5. Native American 9 01%
    6. Other 1 00%

  2. @William- when you get polled, they generally don’t tell you whether it’s an internal poll or not. They also don’t tell you what party they are polling or anything else that might skew the results one way or another. If, as you said Susquehanna indicated to you the name of the organization, which is well-associated with the Republican Party, then that explains why the results are so different then every other poll out there.

  3. The David Diano poll has Arlen Spector running away with the senate race. Actually, the Diano poll has Spector taking 98% of the vote for president here in PA too. We sure love our Uncle Arlen!

  4. It may very well be an outlier. But somehow, I very much doubt that PA is going to be a blowout for Obama this time. I could ultimately be proven wrong, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

  5. The poll is real. I was polled. I have been polled several times in recent years by various polling organizations, both in public and internal polls, but it was the first time I was polled by Susquehanna, which is a reliable polling company. I cannot personally vouch for the breakdown of Democrats to Republicans in SP&R’s poll, but it would be interesting to compare the party weighting in it vs. that of the other polls that suggest Obama is doing better in PA this year than in 2008, unlike most other States. In many polls across the U.S., Democrats have been excessively weighted, which produces a more favorable result for Obama. Perhaps the other polls in PA have been similarly flawed, in addition to some late break away from Obama.

  6. I can explain the poll results.

    It’s a Republican poll, and they polled only Republicans for the Federal races

  7. By all rights, this race should be much further apart. An incumbent whose personally appointed department heads are involved in multiple scandals (DOJ, HS, DOE, DOI), whose lack of attention in foreign affairs is appalling, whose interest in truth is virtually nonexistent (on Letterman he was not exactly sure how big the federal deficit is. Is 16 trillion dollars a number that is easy to forget?), and, who has voiced that he will not be cooperating with those Republicans when he is reflected (what happened to let’s all just get along?) which means that nothing will get done in DC for another four years except all of his executive orders.
    It would be insanity to vote for this man, and Pennsylvanians are smart enough to know that.

  8. LOLOLololol…. Who are they kidding? Reeks of desperation, and trying to keep those donations from drying up. They are truly afraid – for downballot reasons – that the base will stay home in droves, and sweep out Republicans up and down the ballot. Good luck with the phony arithmetic!

  9. “So why does the SP&R poll . . . differ so much from the norm?”

    Because they’re a bunch of shameless Republican butt whores?

    It’s just a theory.

  10. LOL, Casey v. Smith within the margain of error?????? Evidently the GOP has hired Three Stooges Polling Inc.

  • 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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