Back in March Democrat Conor Lamb set the political world on fire when he won the special congressional election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district. He narrowly converted a GOP seat to the blue column in a district won by Donald Trump by over 15 percentage points.
Since then Pennsylvania has changed its congressional districts meaning Conor must run for a seat in the new 17th congressional district against three-term Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus.
Now there is a new Monmouth poll for the 17th district which is also setting the political world on fire, since it shows Lamb with a 12 percentage point lead over the GOP incumbent.
— MonmouthPoll (@MonmouthPoll) July 24, 2018
According to Monmouth, “many voters are expressing doubts about economic policies put forth by both the White House and the GOP-controlled Congress.”
This poll is significant for several reasons:
- The size of Lamb’s lead is very surprising since Rothfus is an incumbent,
- The poll shows that the new Pennsylvania congressional districts are more fair (less gerrymandered) and this will help Democrats pick up House seats in November, and
- It also shows that the young Democratic candidate, who has been in office just three months, is drawing very strong support from the Pittsburgh suburbs.
Many political analysts believe that the key to a Blue Wave election, and a takeover of Congress by the Democrats, is support from suburban voters. Historically these affluent voters have favored Republican candidates, but they are known to have unfavorable views of President Donald Trump. Many suburban districts are currently represented by Republicans but are expected to go Democratic in the fall, and if this happens the House will go Democratic.
An interesting side note to the polling results is the impact of Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump on congressional races. Both are seen to be drags on their party’s candidates in moderate congressional districts, so both candidates have tried to keep their distance from these controversial party leaders.
According to Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth Poll, “Lamb made a point of distancing himself from Pelosi in his razor thin victory last March. It will probably be easier for him to maintain that distance than it will be for Rothfus with Trump.”
Murray also said voter enthusiasm could help the Democratic candidate.
“Another factor bolstering Lamb’s prospects is relatively higher enthusiasm among Democratic voters. Overall, 54% of PA-17 voters say they have a lot of interest in the House race, but Democrats (62%) are more likely to report a high level of interest than either Republicans (54%) or independents (43%),” Murray said.
Although this is just one poll, it provides some very important and interesting insights into the mindsets of voters right now, with just 3 ½ months to go until the midterm elections.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.