Poll: More Good-But-Not-Great Numbers for Casey
By Keegan Gibson and Carolyn Davis
According to a pre-Thanksgiving survey from Public Policy Polling, 40 percent of Pennsylvanians approve of the freshman Democrat’s job performance while 34 percent disapprove. It’s been the same story for Casey this year – numbers that are on par or better than most other political figures in Pa, but short of the 50 percent mark that denotes a safe incumbent.
But overall, the poll is good news for the Senator. And as the pollster said in its press release (of Casey and Florida Democrat Bill Nelson):
“Their topline approval numbers make them appear to be more vulnerable than they really are because their numbers get dragged down by their party base not being enthralled with them, even though it will vote for them in the end.”
“Bob Casey is probably going to have a tougher race than he did in the Democratic wave year of 2006,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But he’s still in a pretty solid position for reelection.”
There has yet to be a GOP heavyweight in the race, and Casey leads each of his relatively unknown GOP opponents by double digits: former State Rep. and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer by 11 points (47-36); Chester County entrepreneur Steve Welch by 14 points (47-33); 2010 congressional candidate Tim Burns by 15 points (49-34); and coal industry veteran Tom Smith by 16 points (48-32).
On the other hand, there may be hope for Republicans when you factor in name recognition. 71 percent of voters are still undecided about Rohrer, the GOP candidate with highest name recognition. 74 percent have no opinion on Burns, 82 percent are not familiar with Smith, and 83 percent are unsure of Welch.
And the environment now is much tougher for Democrats than 2006, when Casey defeated Sen. Rick Santorum out, handily beating the incumbent Senator by 17 points. In a re-match between Casey and Santorum today, Casey would win by just 10 points.
PPP surveyed 500 Pennsylvania voters from November 17th to 20th via automated telephone
interviews. The margin of error for the survey is +/-4.4%.
The poll sampled 49 percent Ds, 41 percent Rs, and 9 percent Is. The actual voter registration numbers in Pa. as of November 21, 2011 are 50.68 percent D, 37.06 percent R, and 12.25 percent everything else.