Polls show conflicting images of Pennsylvania Senate race

It remains to be seen whether Republicans have succeeded in putting the Pennsylvania Senate race in play, according to polls released Saturday that show conflicting pictures of the state of the race.

A Susquehanna poll released Saturday showed Republican Tom Smith just one point behind Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, 45 percent to 46 percent, with eight percent of voters undecided.

But a Public Policy Polling poll also released Saturday suggested a very different race, putting Casey eight points ahead at 52 percent, with Smith at 44 percent.

The conflicting numbers are nothing new. Polls released in close succession this month have consistently painted alternating pictures of the race.

Until October, the race was not considered contested, with Casey assumed to have the upper hand over Smith, a political neophyte who is self-funding his campaign. Casey had been somewhat absent from the campaign trail, apparently unconcerned, when polls suddenly began showing a tighter race in October.

The Casey campaign has since swung into action, while Smith has continued his barrage of attacks.

The Susquehanna poll of 800 Pennsylvania voters, conducted from October 29-31, found momentum for Smith since September, when a poll commissioned by the Tribune Review showed Casey with a four point lead. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna, told the Tribune Review that the tightening of the race was a result of “a near fatal” error on Casey’s part: He let Smith define himself before October, when Smith was running more ads than Casey.

“You never allow the challenger to define himself or herself on his own terms,” Lee said.

In the PPP poll, 15 percent of Republicans said they would vote for Casey over Smith. 49 percent of independents also said they would vote for Casey, compared to 41 percent for Smith.

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