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Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Fitzpatrick Race Moves From Likely GOP to Leans GOP

The race in the 1st Congressional District is tightening up, according to the latest ratings from the election analysts at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s (R-Bucks) race in the 1st Congressional District has moved from Likely Republican to Leans Republican, in the latest ratings published on Thursday morning. 

Sabato’s Crystal Ball’s Kyle Kondik cites two Democratic internal polls that showed challenger Christina Finello within striking distance of Fitzpatrick, coupled with former VP Joe Biden’s strong numbers in the Philadelphia suburban county. 

“Two Democratic internal polls of PA-1, a suburban district based in Bucks County in the Philadelphia suburbs, had Christina Finello (D), an unheralded and underfunded challenger to battle-tested Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R, PA-1), effectively tied with Fitzpatrick while Biden was leading Trump by double digits districtwide,” Kondik writes. “(Hillary Clinton won the district as currently drawn by two points — it became a bit more Democratic as part of the Democratic state Supreme Court’s unwinding of a GOP gerrymander in advance of the 2018 election.)”

In late April, the ratings outlet moved the race from Leans Republican to Likely Republican, due to Fitzpatrick’s competition on the Democratic side, as well as his “enormous” fundraising advantage. However, Kondik notes that although the internal polls may lean in the favor of the Democratic candidate, the fact that Democrats are releasing “a whole lot more polls than the other side,” may be a sign that “they feel better about their numbers.” 

Kondik adds that despite Fitzpatrick being a “strong incumbent,” that the previous rating change in late April was most likely not warranted in the “battleground seat,” particularly if Biden carries Pennsylvania. 

“Whatever the truth is, we probably erred in moving PA-1 to Likely Republican back in April. Fitzpatrick is a strong incumbent with a less conservative voting record than much of the rest of his caucus, but this is a battleground seat that he very well could lose, particularly if Biden carries Pennsylvania,” Kondik writes. “Fitzpatrick was held to an underwhelming 63% in last month’s primary by a Trumpier candidate, suggesting he has some work to do on his right flank, but he was still reelected in 2018 after taking a similarly low 67% in the primary.” 

“We’re moving PA-1 back to Leans Republican,” Kondik concludes in his analysis for this race.

While Fitzpatrick’s primary challenge was a bit closer than expected, Finello, an Ivyland Borough Councilwoman who had the backing of the Bucks County Democratic Party cruised in her quest for the Democratic nomination by besting Skylar Hurwitz, a technology entrepreneur and small business owner endorsed by Our Revolution Pennsylvania, by 55 points, 77%-to-22%. 

Fitzpatrick, who is currently serving his second term in Congress in a district that narrowly went to Sec. Hillary Clinton in 2016, bested Democrat Scott Wallace by just over 2.5 points in 2018. 

This is the third rating change from Sabato’s Crystal Ball in this race since February, when they moved the race from Toss-Up to Leans Republican, then to Leans Republican to Likely Republican in late April, and now back to a Leans GOP race. 

Fitzpatrick’s race is one of four races in Pennsylvania currently in the “Leans” category for the incumbent. The other three are the reelections bids for Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna), Scott Perry (R-York), and Susan Wild (D-Lehigh). Cartwright and Wild’s races are both Leans Democratic, while Perry’s race is Leans Republican. 

The presidential race in Pennsylvania recently shifted from Toss-up to Leans Democratic for Sabato’s Crystal Ball. 

See the full ratings here.

3 Responses

  1. The fallacy in the Dem polling is its tying Brother Brian to The Donald, noting “Fitzpatrick was held to an underwhelming 63% in last month’s primary by a Trumpier candidate, suggesting he has some work to do on his right flank, but he was still reelected in 2018 after taking a similarly low 67% in the primary.”

    Enthusiasm for him among adherents to the Tea Party Movement [and other MAGA/KAG conservatives] is likely to remain negligible noting, for example, his endorsement of the Dem police “reform” bill that would eliminate indemnification [noting, in particular, his lineage as an FBI agent].

    He is again hoping that the “17% Dem x-over” will survive party polarization, for he will discover that his eroded “base” will want to devote energies EXCLUSIVELY to promoting Trump.

    {this is re-posted because the initial submission never emerged}

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