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Poll Shows GOP State Sens Vulnerable to Primaries, Group Says

Chuck McIlhinney
Could state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) be the target of a primary?

According to the American Future Fund, an Iowa-based conservative group that spent $1.4 million on TV in Pa. in 2012, GOP state lawmakers have a lot to worry about.

AFF says a poll it commissioned shows 82% of GOP voters would support a primary challenger over their incumbent state Senator.

It follows AFF’s Oct. 3 announcement that it would use the Pa. Senate to begin a national effort against insufficiently conservative state lawmakers.

“Usually, people will register their discontent by telling pollsters they are unhappy with or less inclined to support a particular representative but balk at actually supporting an opponent to their representative in a primary,” AFF founder Nick Ryan. “These numbers indicate that Pennsylvania voters have reached a tipping point.”

But it’s unclear just how seriously lawmakers should take the results. AFF has yet to respond to repeated requests by PoliticsPA to review a copy of the poll. It is not possible to review the poll questions or the demographic data of its respondents.

Update: a spokeswoman said AFF would not release the full poll, but did send this memo from the pollster which includes the phrasing of the survey questions.

The group previously said it planned to “oversample in specific legislative districts” – but didn’t detail which ones or whether this specific survey included any oversample.

It further appears that the poll questions might not have used neutral phrasing. As AFF detailed in a press release, the poll “asked if Republican voters were more or less likely to support their state senator if they voted for Obamacare through Medicaid expansion, voted for the gas tax increase and failed to support private liquor sales and distribution.”

The poll was conducted last week by the Las Vegas-based polling firm Dane and Associates. It had a sample size of 1,282 and a margin of error of +/- 2.25 percent, AFF said.

PoliticsPA could not identify a Dane and Associates poll that was released during the 2012 cycle. In October 2008, the firm found Rep. Jack Murtha trailing GOP challenger BIll Russell by 13 points, 45% to 35%. Less than 2 weeks later, Murtha won by 16 points, 58% to 42%.

2 Responses

  1. Well, this poll seems horribly flawed, but there are a good 3 or 4 GOP Senators who should be worried about a primary next year.

  2. Yeah, this “poll” sounds like Tea Party propaganda aimed at Republican legislators – “Toe our line or be primaried.”

    This is good news for the Democrats; if they can keep voters’ memories fresh, GOP legislators toeing the Tea Party line are likely to be generaled.

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