Tom Smith has some catching up to do. According to the Franklin and Marshall poll released this morning, incumbent Senator Bob Casey leads his Republican challenger by 21 points. However, 35 percent of voters remain undecided.
Of those undecided voters, 19 say they’re leaning Casey and 10 percent say they’re leaning Smith. The full poll is here (PDF).
Smith, a former coal company owner and Tea Party leader from Armstrong County, cleared a crowded GOP primary in April. But due in part to the fact that the presidential primary was ongoing for most of his race, he hasn’t seen a big boost in name ID.
77 percent of poll respondents said they didn’t have an opinion of him, and those that do break down essentially by partisan proportions: 8 percent favorable, 14 percent unfavorable.
Unsurprisingly Casey, who has held numerous PA offices, and whose father was PA Governor, has stronger name ID. But it’s not phenomenal: 29 percent of respondents don’t have an opinion of him, either. Those that do have a positive opinion, 38 percent to 18 percent. That’s a consistent increase in favorability, according to F&M, since March 2011.
It’s not all roses for the first term Senator. He’s personally popular, but satisfaction with his job performance is lackluster. 40 percent of those polled responded that he has done “only a fair job” or a “poor job,” compared to 38 percent who say he has done an “excellent job” or “good job.” 21 percent remain undecided on his performance.
The difference between Casey’s favorability and his job might also be attributed to the base of anti-Democratic voters in the survey, or it might be the deep-seated disapproval of all of Congress. In either case, he’s short of the 50 percent mark that denotes a safe incumbent.
The Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College interviewed 412 Pennsylvania voters from May 29 to June 4, 2012. Democrats accounted for just over 50 percent of respondents, Republicans just under 38 percent (current registration in PA is 50.6 percent D, 38.1 percent R). The sample error is +/- 4.8 percent.