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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- Pennsylvania -- 11

PA 11: Barletta (R) +4, +5

Democratic Rep. Paul Kanjorski's Scranton-based district has been inundated by hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside ads, but not much has changed, according to two new independent polls out this week, and Kanjorski remains behind his Republican opponent.

A Franklin & Marshall poll conducted 10/8-12 among 586 registered voters for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Kanjorski and Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta were tested.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Barletta.....40 / 23 / 65 / 60 / 44 / 37 (-4 from last, 9/08)
Kanjorski....35 / 52 / 11 / 11 / 31 / 38 (no change)

Obama........46 / 67 / 14 / 29 / 43 / 49
McCain.......37 / 17 / 69 / 49 / 44 / 32

A Research 2000 poll conducted for DailyKos surveyed 400 likely voters from 10/6-8 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Kanjorski and Barletta were tested.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Barletta.....43 / 15 / 82 / 41 / 46 / 40
Kanjorski....39 / 64 / 8 / 32 / 37 / 41

Obama........47 / 78 / 6 / 45 / 43 / 51
McCain.......43 / 10 / 87 / 46 / 49 / 37

One thing is clear: Kanjorski trails because Democrats just won't coalesce around the twelve-term incumbent.In both polls, Barletta is winning twice the number of Democrats as Kanjorski is winning Republicans.

Democrats and the National Association of Realtors have spent almost $1.9 million on Kanjorski's behalf, making the seat the top recipient of outside spending in the country. But it might take another outside group to weigh in on Kanjorski's behalf to make the real difference: Earlier this week, the National Rifle Association announced they would back the Democrat.

The NRA hasn't been terribly active in House and Senate races so far this year, but if they play a role in the final three weeks, it would help Kanjorski pick up some of the gun-toting voters who have sent him back to Congress so many times.

PA 11: Kanjorski (D) +9

Never leave bad news unchallenged. That's the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's motto today. On the heels of an independent poll showing Republican Lou Barletta leading Democrat Paul Kanjorski, the DCCC released their own survey showing Kanjorski ahead.

The poll, conducted by Grove Insight for the DCCC, surveyed 400 likely voters between 9/14-15 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Kanjorski, the incumbent, and Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta were tested.

General Election Matchup
Kanjorski.........48
Barletta..........39

Obama.............48
McCain............42

The previous survey, conducted by Franklin and Marshall University, showed Barletta ahead by nine points. Both parties maintain their candidate is in good shape for November, and Democrats are spending heavily to try to save their incumbent.

PA 11: Barletta (R) +9

Mix an incumbent's ethics issues with a popular and well-known challenger and Republicans may have found a winning recipe for beating a Democrat. A new poll shows ethically troubled Rep. Paul Kanjorski trailing his Republican opponent in a northeast Pennsylvania district that could become the GOP's most high-profile pickup chance.

The survey, conducted by Franklin and Marshall University, polled 547 registered voters between 9/9-14 for a margin of error of +/- 4.2%. Kanjorski and Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta were tested among a sample made up of 58% Democrats, 34% Republicans and 8% independents and others.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Barletta......44 / 28 / 69 / 54 / 49 / 39
Kanjorski.....35 / 51 / 11 / 27 / 36 / 35

Obama/Biden...43 / 65 / 10 / 31 / 42 / 44
McCain/Palin..40 / 17 / 77 / 47 / 45 / 36

Barletta has a good image in Pennsylvania's Eleventh District. The small-town mayor turned anti-illegal immigration activist is seen favorably by 49% of respondents, while 22% see him unfavorably. Kanjorski has a less impressive 40% favorable to 38% unfavorable. Just 35% say Kanjorski deserves re-election, while 54% think it's time for a change.

Barletta is succeeding because he's been able to frame the debate around his issues, the poll shows. 17% of respondents say illegal immigration will be the most important issue in their vote for Congress, while 19% say a troubled government and politicians will be key to their vote. Barletta wins both those groups by wide margins.

The economy should be a top issue -- 47% say it will be the most important in their vote for president but just 21% say it will be their top issue when deciding how to vote for Congress. Kanjorski wins economic voters and those who say gas and energy prices are their biggest problems, but by smaller margins than Barletta wins his base.

Democrats have been hammering Barletta for months, both in voters' mailboxes and over the airwaves, but it doesn't seem to be working. Republicans have long crowed about Barletta's chances at knocking off the twelve-term incumbent. It's getting harder to see Kanjorski's path to victory.

Barletta Up In PA

Two weeks before the second quarter of 2008 ends, an illegal immigration hardliner has released a poll taken in late March that shows the Republican leading his Democratic opponent in what one adviser calls the party's best chance at taking over a Democratic-held seat come November. Democrats, on the other hand, point to their incumbent's huge cash advantage while suggesting the looming financial deadline is the real motivator.

The poll, conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research for Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta's campaign, surveyed 400 likely voters between 3/27-29, for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Barletta, the Republican nominee, and incumbent Rep. Paul Kanjorski were tested.

General Election Matchup
Barletta........47
Kanjorski......42

Just 39% of respondents say they would vote to re-elect Kanjorski, who is seeking his thirteenth term in Congress, while 45% say they think it is time to give a new person a chance. And Barletta, the poll shows, is widely-known: After a crusade against illegal immigration that's landed him on Fox News and CNN, 59% of district residents view him favorably, compared with 13% who see him unfavorably.

But then there's the money. Or rather, there isn't the money, on Barletta's behalf. Though his national stature should be the foundation from which he raises serious cash, he managed to raise just $184,000 and kept $154,000 on hand. Kanjorski, when he decides to flex some financial muscle, has $1.83 million at his disposal, and a history of dispatching opponents including Barletta.

In 2002, the mayor raised and spent $566,000 on a race against Kanjorski, who won with 56% of the vote. A solid win, but the lowest percentage Kanjorski had ever received. The Democrat won with 72% in 2006 and with 94% in 2004. For more on the race, check out our overview of a contest in which immigration is sure to play a huge role.

GOPer Puts McCain In Bind

If illegal immigration is going to play a defining role in any one House race this year, it will be in Pennsylvania's Eleventh District, where incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski is facing a challenge from Republican Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazelton who has made a name for himself as an anti-illegal immigration activist. Both candidates are focusing heavily on the issue, but Barletta, beloved by national anti-immigration foes, has gone a step farther and is calling out his own party's presidential nominee.

Barletta garnered attention several years ago with a bid to impose penalties on landlords who offer their properties to illegal immigrants and businesses who employ them. He has become a staple on conservative talk shows around the country, featured on shows hosted by Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, among scores of others. After losing his 2002 bid against Kanjorski, Barletta is trying again to represent the district, several hours north of Philadelphia that stretches from the New Jersey border toward the middle of the state.

His focus on immigration and his national profile have gotten Barletta plenty of media coverage. His announcement drew dozens of cameras and reporters as he promised to take his fight on the issue to Washington. Barletta has even invited John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to his home town to discuss ways to stop illegal immigration, The Hill's Aaron Blake reported today.

While Obama and Clinton have yet to respond, McCain's campaign wrote back and said thanks, but no thanks. That prompted an angry response from Barletta. "While I commend Sen. McCain for being the first to respond to my invitation, I am very troubled by his decision to decline my offer," the GOP candidate said in a statement. A letter to Barletta from the McCain campaign said they did not see an opportunity to get to Hazelton.

McCain, no friend of the anti-illegal immigration hardliners who populate much of the GOP's base (as well as his home state's Republican Party), has recently made news by suggesting that it was those views that contributed to his party's loss of a Congressional seat earlier this month. McCain told National Public Radio that "anti-immigrant" views, as he characterized them, were the reason Republican candidate Jim Oberweis lost his race to replace Dennis Hastert in Illinois.

Barletta is unlikely to let the issue drop. He said the invitation to all three top candidates "will remain open, because illegal immigration is a problem that is not going away before Election Day, or anytime soon." For McCain, the ire of a prominent immigration hardliner, and a member of his own party, is something he doesn't need.

If Barletta can't overcome Kanjorski and McCain comes close or wins his own battle, maybe the GOP will rethink their approach to illegal immigration. If the opposite happens, or if McCain loses a significant portion of the Republican base, watch for immigration hardliners to try and reassert themselves as a dominant force in the party moving forward.

While few races can really be said to have been determined based on illegal immigration, the Kanjorski-Barletta matchup will truly determine if immigration moves a large number of votes, or if it's even a partisan issue at all.