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Smith Internal Poll: Smith Leads Senate Primary

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Tom Smith of Armstrong County is leading the field of Republicans hoping to take on Senator Bob Casey, according to an polling memo released by Smith’s campaign Tuesday.

The former coal company owner and former Tea Party leader boasts a 22 percent plurality in the crowded primary.

“Smith’s early lead is indicative of his strong biography and message that is resonating with Republican voters. The campaign’s ability to get that message out through paid media has been important to the lead,” Republican strategist and pollster John McLaughlin said in a press release.

The number breakdown is as follows: Smith, 22 percent; former State Rep. Sam Rohrer, 15 percent; businessman and 2010 congressional candidate Tim Burns, 11 percent; entrepreneur and 2010 congressional candidate Steve Welch, 10 percent; and attorney Marc Scaringi, 4 percent. 38 percent were undecided.

Smith became the first 2012 U.S. Senate candidate on television this month, as his campaign launched a $300,000 ad buy (after doubling the initial $160K buy). It shows in his name ID: 31 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Smith, compared to just 13 percent who had any opinion of him in a November Public Policy Polling survey.

Rohrer’s 15 percent in Smith’s survey compares to a much stronger 25 percent in the independent PPP poll, which was fueled by high named ID from Rohrer’s 2010 bid for governor. All other candidates were in single digits in the PPP, including Smith at 3 percent.

It’s a Smith-sponsored poll, so take it with a grain of salt. A campaign usually releases an internal poll for one of two reasons: fundraising or legitimacy.

The first, to boost fundraising prospects, probably doesn’t apply to him. Smith loaned three quarters of a million dollars to his campaign during the third quarter of 2011, and sources say he’ll show even more in Q4.

More likely his motive is the second: to show legitimacy. Most of the nine Republican candidates have their eyes on the GOP State Committee endorsement at the end of January. Smith, a first-time candidate, wants to show that he is the front-runner. This could help him win an endorsement, but just as valuable for a self-funder it could keep the party’s resources on the sidelines.

The campaign did not release full polling results, so the negatives for each candidate and the regional crosstabs are not available to the public.

The survey was conducted by the GOP polling firm McLaughlin & Associates. The accuracy of the sample of 400 likely general election voters is within +/- 4.9% at a 95% confidence interval. Respondents were selected based on their likeliness to vote in the 2012 primary, and the results were weighted based on demographics.

Here is the Smith campaign’s full release:

“Tom smith clearly has the momentum in this race.” – Republican Pollster John McLaughlin
(Pittsburgh) – The Tom Smith for Senate Campaign today released the results of a survey of 400 likely primary voters conducted by McLaughlin & Associates on December 21st:



“Smith’s early lead is indicative of his strong biography and message that is resonating with Republican voters. The campaign’s ability to get that message out through paid media has been important to the lead,” Republican strategist and pollster John McLaughlin said of the findings.

“We’re overjoyed by the positive response we continue to receive from voters across Pennsylvania,” said Campaign Manager Jim Conroy.  “Tom’s tireless work ethic, ability to connect with the electorate and commitment of resources demonstrates his seriousness about being the Republican to face Senator Casey.”

More voters have a “favorable” opinion of Tom Smith than of his opponents:

TOM SMITH 31% favorable


This survey of political attitudes was conducted among 400 likely Republican primary voters on December 21st, 2011, in Pennsylvania.

The survey was conducted using an established automated polling methodology. Calls were placed to randomly-selected phone numbers through a process that insures appropriate geographic representation based upon a likely Republican primary turnout model. All calls were placed to Republican primary voters from a list of past Republican primary voters. Voters were screened to be registered Republicans who are likely to vote in the 2012 Republican primary. After the calls are completed, the raw data is processed through a weighting program to insure that the sample reflects the overall population in terms of age, race, gender, political party, and other factors. The processing step is required because different segments of the population answer the phone in different ways. For example, women answer the phone more than men, older people are home more and answer more than younger people, and rural residents typically answer the phone more frequently than urban residents.

The population targets were based upon Republican primary data, a series of screening questions to determine subject knowledge, likely voters, and other factors. McLaughlin & Associates determines its partisan weighting targets through a dynamic weighting system that takes into account voting history, statewide trends, and recent polling. The accuracy of the sample of 400 likely general election voters is within +/- 4.9% at a 95% confidence interval.


With which political party are you registered?
-Republican  100%
-Democrat  0%
-Independent/Other  0%

Gender (by observation):
-Male 56%
-Female 44%

-18 – 39 19%
-40 – 64 57%
-65 and Over 24%

– Philadelphia MM 28%
—Montgomery County 6%
—Philadelphia County 2%
—Rest Philly MM 21%
– Wilke /. NY / Elmira 14%
– Johnstown – Altoona MM 9%
– Pittsburgh MM 23%
—Alleghany County 8%
—Rest Pittsburgh 15%
– Erie 4%
– Harrisburg 23%

17 Responses

  1. Sam has a flawless conservative record after 18 years in the state assembly. He is experienced, incorruptible & no RINO tendencies. He has my vote & endorsement. – The Sweaty Federalist

  2. As we all know, Sen.Bob Casey’s 98% Obama Votes are positives that the Rs cannot use against him.

    And given the flawed Republican field, we are doomed to Obama’s European Socialistic bankrupting fiscal policies for the next four years. Apparently, voters do not consider this a negative.If this is what the voters want, this is what we will all get.

    The Titanic did sink and this time there will be no lifeboats for women and children.

    On the other hand, it would be good to make the case for fiscal common sense and free markets, low taxes and jobs created in the energy sector – The Texas Model – and find the candidate who best supports those positions. Tom Smith wears cowboy boots.

  3. Everyone is focused on the primary. Which one can get the democrats to vote for them in November. Which one doesn’t have any political baggage that the democrats can use against them. They all do.

  4. If Smith is a true conservative why was he regisatered a Democrats and an Armstrong County Democratic Committeeman for years?

  5. Hahahaha. Steve they dont have a chance. Roeher one step above a town comissioner. Its between Welch and smith and Casey already won.

  6. Tom Smith is a joke. Of all the candidate debates/forums I’ve seen, Smith as has been at 0. The true tea party candidates are Sam Rohrer and Marc Scaringi. PA would do well to put one of these fine gentlemen into corrupt Casey’s seat.

  7. Tom has my vote in the primary. I just don’t think he will be able to beat Senator Casey. It is hard for people to win without political experience, espically in the Senate.

  8. People of Tom Smith’s caliber generally don’t enter Government service, since their work ethic, integrity, and talents are much more valuable (and rewarded) in the private sector. However, he has committed himself to bettering our country, and at a time when only 11% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, we would be fortunate to have his leadership. He’s attained a level of success that few have or will—without the benefit of having anything bequeathed to him, like career politicians Bob Casey and Nancy Pelosi. Tom certainly has my support…and my vote.

  9. This poll is about as accurate as the one released earlier in the year by the now vanquished John Vernon– meaning not worth the paper it’s printed on. Its only value is that posts the results as headline news and that campaign staffers on opposing campaigns will note that Tom Smith, though missing from recent debates and events, is still alive and spending money on internal polls.

  10. Like Rick Perry, Tom Smith may not be as slick a talker as his opponent. Some of us put Experience, Commitment, and knowledgeable understanding of productive job creation, particularly, from energy exploration and development over rhetorical fantasies.

    NY? You mean where the Establishment Hacks had aggregated? That is where a candidate would be looking for Establishment Insider support, not a candidate who is reaching out to voters.

  11. Rumor on the ground is that Smith erected the television ad in lieu of showing at the NY Debate. He is inarticulate and doesn’t know the issues enough to debate as has been apparent at all other public events.

    Guess he figures with enough money he can fool the voters. Dear Lord if we’re going to elect a guy we’ve only gotten to know through television commercials, then God help us. We get what we deserve.

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    Total Voters: 30

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