Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) has a double-digit lead over his Republican rival Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) in a newly created 17th Congressional District redrawn for the 2018 midterm elections by the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, according to a poll released on Tuesday by the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
“The Democratic candidate has a sizable advantage in the race for Pennsylvania’s newly drawn 17th Congressional District, the nation’s only House contest that pits two incumbents against each other,” the Monmouth University Poll said in a statement accompanying the release of the poll:
The Monmouth University Poll finds that Conor Lamb, who has served in Congress for just three months after winning a special election earlier this year, holds a double digit lead over three-term Republican Keith Rothfus. The Democratic lean of the new district gives Lamb a decided advantage, with many voters expressing doubts about economic policies put forth by both the White House and the GOP-controlled Congress.
Lamb has 51% support and Rothfus has 39% support among all potential voters – that is voters who have participated in an election since 2010 or have newly registered to vote (a group that represents about 88% of all registered voters in the district). Another 9% are undecided. A historical midterm model for likely voters shows the race at 53% for Lamb and 40% for Rothfus, while a model that includes a turnout surge in Democratic precincts gives Lamb a slightly larger 54% to 39% edge. Lamb’s lead is outside the sampling margin of error in all three poll scenarios.
A recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court carved the new PA-17 from parts of House districts 3, 12, 14, and 18. Just over half the electorate is currently represented by Rothfus in the old 12th district, but these voters are evenly divided with 46% supporting Lamb and 45% supporting their current congressman. About 1-in-5 voters are represented by Lamb in the current 18th district and they are sticking with him by a 54% to 37% margin. The remainder of the new district is made up largely of Democratic-leaning Pittsburgh suburbs in PA-14 along with a small sliver of heavily Republican PA-03 in Butler County. Taken together, these new voters who are not represented by either of the candidates give Lamb a very sizable lead of 58% to 25% over Rothfus, with a relatively larger undecided vote (15%) compared to the rest of the district.
“Rothfus knocked off a Democratic incumbent in 2012 largely due to a favorably drawn map. It looks like the new court-ordered map could be responsible for his defeat if these poll results hold,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in the statement.
Two weeks ago, Breitbart News reported that “Democrats are currently favored in three seats held by Pennsylvania Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, thanks in large part to a controversial and unprecedented decision by the Democrat-dominated Pennsylvania State Supreme Court earlier this year. In that decision, the Court rejected the state legislature’s 2011 redistricting of the state’s congressional districts completed after the 2010 census and draw the boundaries of those congressional district lines themselves.”
Democrats are now favored in four seats held by Pennsylvania Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, as the Cook Political Report has moved Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District from “toss-up” to “lean Democrat” coincident with the release of the new Monmouth University Poll.
“The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from July 19 to 22, 2018 with 401 voters in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District,” according to the statement released by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.