An internal poll from Phil Scollo, the Democrat challenging Rep. Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) suggests that the freshman Republican incumbent has soft support in his newly drawn district. But the memo, obtained exclusively by PoliticsPA, omits initial head-to-head numbers.
Update: Scollo’s campaign tells PoliticsPA that the initial polling numbers, before respondents heard any information on either candidate, was Marino 47, Scollo 30.
“Voters in the 10th Congressional District are wide open to considering a replacement for Representative Tom Marino, and become significantly less likely to support him once they learn about his Democratic challenger, Phil Scollo,” wrote pollster Public Policy Polling in its memo.
After hearing only positive biographical information on both candidates, Marino lead Scollo 44 to 36 percent. The campaign did not release the initial topline numbers.
The release emphasizes the poll finding that just 30 percent of voters said definitively that they would vote to re-election Marino. A full 55 percent said they would “consider voting for someone else”.
Thanks to redistricting, a third of the voters in the district are new to Marino. Add the fact that he’s a freshman, and it’s not too tough to imagine that he has work to do to boost his name ID.
Some of the other highlighted findings include: after hearing positive and biographical statements about Scollo, respondents were 71 percent more likely to vote for him. And, 43 percent of voters were much less likely to vote for Marino after hearing messaging about the Ryan budget and Medicare, and Marino’s votes for it.
Like any internal polling, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Campaigns rarely release the full scope of their numbers, detailed outlays of results called crosstabs, or the specific wording of questions. Scollo is no exception.
Marino’s campaign says the memo doesn’t worry them. Campaign adviser Jason Fitzgerald charged that releasing numbers showed that Scollo’s camp is “desperately seeking good news.”
“They have not provided any topline numbers on where Tom Marino stands against Phil Scollo. We all know, if they did that, the Congressman would have a huge lead,” Fitzgerald said.
“But we’re taking absolutely nothing for granted,” he added. “We’re organized in every county in the district. The Congressman is traveling heavily. We have a full time political operation.”
He’s likely right. The memo does not include the initial head-to-head numbers – only those numbers after the poll respondents have heard information about both candidates.
But that “after” head-to-head number makes an important assumption: that Scollo will have the opportunity to inform voters about his background (read: air television ads) in a competitive manner. It’s not clear whether he’ll be able to do so. At the end of the second fundraising quarter, Marino lead Scollo $300,000 to $36,000 in cash on hand. It’s not insurmountable, but it does give the incumbent a head start vis-a-vis paid media.
“Every insurgent challenger like Phil Scollo starts as the underdog,” said Vince Rongione, Scollo’s general consultant. “The poll shows that Marino’s efforts to essentially end Medicare put him at odds with Pennsylvania seniors and families, who depend on the promises of Medicare and Social Security.”
“He’s ready to fight for seniors and families like his, who too often find themselves as underdogs in the halls of Congress.”
Scollo, 56, is a businessman and management consultant from Pike County. Marino, 60, is a former U.S. Attorney. He defeated Rep. Chris Carney (D-Susquehanna) in 2010. The newly drawn 10th district contains part or all of 15 counties in mostly rural northeastern PA.
PPP surveyed 550 Pennsylvania 10th district voters automated telephone interviews from July 16 – 17. The margin of error for the survey is +/-4.18 percent.
Here’s the full memo: