||[Jun. 18th, 2005|01:44 pm]
Bob Casey for Senator
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Valley Voters Soft on Santorum
Right now, they favor Casey for Senate
May 19, 2005
By Jeff Miller Of The Morning Call
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has work to do in the Lehigh Valley before the November 2006 election.
A Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll shows that Santorum trails Democrat Bob Casey Jr. in the Lehigh Valley.
In the Senate race, Casey, the state treasurer, leads Santorum, a two-term Republican incumbent, 32 percent to 25 percent, with 37 percent undecided. Six percent wanted another option.
The Valley poll, conducted April 16 to May 5, surveyed 610 registered voters in Lehigh and Northampton counties. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.
The Lehigh Valley, one of the largest metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania, is viewed as an important swing region and a barometer for statewide elections.
The results, in fact, are similar to recent statewide polls. An April Quinnipiac University poll found Casey leading Santorum by 14 percentage points. Rendell had a 15-point lead over Scranton and a 13-point lead over Swann. (Quinnipiac also found Rendell leading Piccola by 17 points.).
Santorum is the third-ranking GOP leader in the Senate and a champion of social conservatives. He's won twice statewide in Pennsylvania, which has a Democratic majority. But Democrats, who heavily recruited Casey, say Santorum is vulnerable now.
Among voters with a preference, Casey received support from 51 percent of Democrats, 20 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of independents. Santorum received support from 44 percent of Republicans, 9 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of independents.
The poll also found Casey leading Santorum among seniors, which could reflect Santorum's strong push for Social Security private accounts.
"If Social Security continues to be on the agenda and President Bush's proposal remains fairly unpopular, that's really a hurdle for Santorum to get over," Borick said.
While Democrats have attacked Santorum's position on Social Security, Republicans have countered that Casey is running away from the issue by refusing to say how he would deal with the program's long-term financial problems.
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