Beyond a simple Republican onslaught, 2010 has been shaping up as one of those “throw out the rascals” years when being an incumbent is far from a good thing. The latest poll shows that is not the case in Pennsylvania’s 15th District.
The poll, completed for the Dent campaign by the Alexandria, VA.-based Tarrance Group on January 19-20, shows Dent with a sizable 26 point lead among likely voters. The poll, of 300 likely registered voters carries a 5.8 percent margin of error. Even if you discount the fact that the poll was taken for Dent (pollsters always seem to skew their polls in favor of whom they are being paid by) and if you take into account the margin of error, this is not good news for Callahan.
The poll shows Dent at 53 percent and Callahan at 27. Callahan is actually closer to third-party candidate Jake Towne than to Dent. Towne has 8%. As Towne is to the right of Dent, one assumes that he pulls more support from Dent than Callahan. With that in mind and with 12% undecided, Dent’s strength right now is actually as great as when he trounced Sam Bennett in 2008.
Towne's showing is pretty remarkable, not because there isn't a lot of similar sentiment among voters (I followed a car today with bumper stickers that read "Audit the Fed" and "My Pekapoo is smarter than your President.") but because he hasn't yet been able to get his name out that widely.
When you figure that 35% or so of the voters would vote for bin Laden if he were the Democratic candidate, Callahan pulling 27% is almost unheard of.
Both Sam and John were hand-picked because they had hit-the-ground-running name recognition. The poll would seem to suggest otherwise. And, Dent usually picks up steam as he campaigns. He is a great debater and relates to his audiences. One wonders if the Democrats who have a fair amount of national money set aside for this race won’t look to another district to mount a stand.
Dent captures 9 out of 10 Republicans. He also picks off one out of 4 Democrats, negating the large margin the Democrats have in voter registration. On top of that, Dent has a wide lead among independents. Throw in the fact that experts expect turnout to favor the GOP this year and you may have the beginnings of a rout.
I also would suggest that just as we saw last week in Massachusetts, a moderate Republican, like Dent, who can attract independents and moderate Democrats, is likely to do very well this year. One hopes that the national party learns that over time.
Tory Mazzola, the National Republican Campaign Committee spokesperson was quick to highlight the poll. “If Washington Democrats still think Rahm’s hand-picked candidate John Callahan is one of their best bets, then I’ve got a ticket to sell them for Martha Coakley’s U.S. Senate swearing in ceremony. Charlie Dent is in a very strong position because Eastern Pennsylvanians know he is an independent voice fighting for jobs, limited government and less spending, while Callahan’s record speaks for itself – he’s a tax-and-spend Pelosi liberal,” Mazzola wrote.
The campaign is just starting. Election day is 10 months off but the poll shows what many have been saying off-the-record for a while now and that is that Dent should win re-election handily.