PPP: Rohrer leads Senate race

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Sam Rohrer leads the GOP race for the US Senate nod and endorsed candidate Steve Welch is dead last, according to Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, though there's still a long way to go before April 24 with 48% of GOP voters undecided. All of them are well behind incumbent Dem Bob Casey however.

From PPP:

Bob Casey's approval ratings are nothing to write home about, but he continues to have a large lead over all of his potential Republican opponents.

38% of Pennsylvania voters approve of the job Casey is doing to 36% who disapprove. A higher than usual 26% have no opinion. Usually a Senator with a 38% approval rating would be in a lot of trouble. But Casey actually has an unusual amount of crossover support from Republicans, with 22% approving of him. The reason his numbers are low is that only 58% of Democrats approve of him to 23% who disapprove. Usually Senators are in the 70-80% range with members of their own party.

Casey may have only 58% of Democrats who approve of the job he's doing, but 76-78% of them still commit to voting for him in the general election against any of his potential Republican opponents. In addition to strong support from the Democratic base he takes anywhere from 17-22% of the GOP vote against his possible foes, and leads with independents by 17-23 points.

It all adds up to a 15-20 point early lead no matter who runs against him. Sam Rohrer comes the closest of the Republicans, trailing by 15 at 49-34. Tom Smith and David Christian trail by 18 points at 49-31 and 50-32 respectively. Marc Scaringi and Steve Welch do the worst, trailing by identical 20 point margins at 49-29.

One interesting thing about these numbers is that all of these folks- who with low name recognition at this point fall into the 'some dude' category- do about as well as Rick Santorum did against Casey in 2006. Not a great reflection on Santorum's home state electoral strength.

In addition to being the strongest Republican candidate against Casey Rohrer is also leading the GOP primary field for the time being. He's at 16% to 12% for Tom Smith, 10% for David Christian, 8% for Marc Scaringi, and 5% for Steve Welch. The big winner though is undecided- 48% of voters say they don't yet know who they'll choose.


Smith launches new commercial

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

Senate GOP primary candidate Tom Smith is launching a new television commercial that promulgates the wider Republican message about incumbent Bob Casey: that he is too far left and too closely tied to harmful policies put forth by President Obama.
“Washington politicians are flooding American with red ink. Our national debt is over $15 trillion and climbing. President Obama and Sen. Casey want even more,” Mr. Smith says in the commercial, which begins airing statewide tomorrow. “America is in trouble and it’s time to change course.”
The ad -- Mr. Smith's third -- will air statewide on several cable stations including Fox and The History Channel over the next week, Smith campaign manager Jim Conroy said.
Take your chances and try to catch it on TV or watch it now here.
Mr. Smith is one of five candidates vying for the Republican nomination. 

Voter ID approved; Corbett to sign it

Published by Laura Olson on .

The hotly debated voter ID bill passed the state House today, on a vote of 104-88.

For those not following the three days' of House debate before the final vote, here's a refresher from our breaking news page:


Beginning with the fall general election, voters will be required to present a photo identification card issued by the state or federal government or by universities, nursing homes, counties or municipalities in Pennsylvania.

Voters at the primary election next month will be asked to show identification but could vote without one.

In November, voters without a required document will be given a provisional ballot and must verify their identity within six days in order for that ballot to be counted.

Democrats and civil-rights activists opposed the measure, arguing that no evidence of voter-impersonation fraud exists and expressing concerns about the burden on those without valid identification, such as some elderly, poor or minority residents.

Supporters countered that an identification card will be made available through the state Department of Transportation at no cost to the voter.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Senate Democrats have said they intend to file a lawsuit against the bill after its approval.

House Democrats now also say they plan to file suit against the measure, and are aiming to have its implementation halted prior to next month's primary election.



Santorum returns to PA next week

Published by Laura Olson on .


In the surest sign yet that the primary is finally headed to the commonwealth, Rick Santorum is trekking back to Harrisburg next weekend to headline an annual gathering of conservative activists.

The Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, held next Friday and Saturday at the Radisson Penn Harris Convention Center in Camp Hill, will feature the former senator as a speaker, according to the event's website.

He won't be the only presidential contest name on the schedule -- former contender Herman Cain is set to speak on Saturday morning. Other speakers include U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist, Fox News commentator Brit Hume, and Ann McElhinney, producer of the upcoming pro-drilling documentary "Frack Nation."

The conference also will feature a U.S. Senate debate on Saturday, to be moderated by David Taylor from the PA Manufacturers Association.


Santorum up 14 in Pa; Ridge for Romney

Published by Tim McNulty on .

It's a good day for Rick Santorum.

Following up on his wins last night in Alabama and Mississippi, the latest Quinnipiac University poll in Pennsylvania shows former senator Rick Santorum with a 14-point lead over Mitt Romney six weeks before the state's April 24 primary. The survey follows similar findings from Public Policy Polling showing him with an 18-point cushion. He's also head-to-head with Barack Obama in the state.

The Romney camp is hitting back with the announcement that former Gov. Tom Ridge is supporting his presidential bid, after previously endorsing Jon Huntsman.

From the Q poll (here in full)

Pennsylvania Republicans are going for favorite son Rick Santorum big time, giving the former U.S. Senator a 36 - 22 percent lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Keystone State's presidential primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has 12 percent, with 8 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

In a head-to-head matchup, Santorum tops Romney 52 - 32 percent among Republican voters, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

If Santorum gets to November, he gets 44 percent of Pennsylvania voters, to 45 percent for President Barack Obama - too close to call.

The Santorum and Romney campaigns are already gearing up to fight over the state's 72 delegates, with Romney announcing a raft of establishment supporters statewide and Santorum signing up Tom Corbett's longtime political advisor to head his campaign.

Here's the Romney camp's statement on Ridge:

"It is an honor to have Governor Ridge's support," said Mitt Romney. "There are few leaders who have such a distinguished record of service to our country. As a combat soldier in Vietnam, he fought with bravery and distinction. As a Congressman and Governor, he was a tireless servant for Pennsylvania. And as Secretary of Homeland Security, he kept our country safe from those who wished to harm us. I am humbled to have his endorsement and welcome Governor Ridge's counsel."

Announcing his support, Governor Ridge said, "Having spent most my life in public service, as a soldier, as a Congressman, as a Governor of Pennsylvania, as a White House official, and as a Secretary of Homeland Security, I've met accomplished and strong leaders in my life. Mitt Romney is one of them. He would bring to the presidency an extraordinary set of skills.