Santorum Gaining Ground

Embattled Republican Senator Rick Santorum is gaining ground, now trailing Bob Casey, Jr. by six points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

In the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race, Democratic State Treasurer Robert Casey Jr. leads incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum 48 – 42 percent among likely voters, including leaners, with 5 percent for Green party candidate Carl Romanelli and 5 percent undecided, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. In a two-way matchup among registered voters, Casey leads Sen. Santorum 47 – 40 percent, with 11 percent undecided. This compares to a 52 – 34 percent Casey lead in a June 21 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN uh-pe-ack) University. In this latest survey, 27 percent of likely voters who name a candidate say they still might change their mind.

By a 49 – 42 percent margin, Pennsylvania likely voters say Santorum does not deserve to be reelected. Among registered voters who back Casey, 42 percent say their vote is mainly against Santorum, while 50 percent say their vote is mainly for the Democrat.

“Bob Casey’s lead over Sen. Santorum has shrunk to single digits in part because the Green Party candidate is siphoning votes from the Democratic challenger. It’s not surprising Sen. Santorum has narrowed the gap, but his bid for re-election is still in trouble as long as almost 50 percent of the voters say he does not deserve another term,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Casey still has the advantage as long as Santorum’s job approval is mixed and his favorability rating remains in negative territory. But three in 10 likely voters say they don’t know enough about Casey to form an opinion, and the key to the election may well be how those voters will swing once they get to know him. Santorum gets no help from President Bush, whose approval rating remains near record lows,” Richards added.

Richards’ analysis strikes me as plausible. For an incumbent to be trailing six points inside 90 days to the election, despite a spoiler candidate sucking 5 points from his leading challenger, is hardly a good sign. And 49 percent negatives are nothing to write home about, either.

Still, the Santorum campaign (which is touting this poll in a press release) is glad to at least be on the upswing. Casey had an 18 point lead in this same poll in June. That this race is still competitive should give the Republicans some hope.

UPDATE: Pollsters Gerry Daly and Bill Cullo have some interesting thoughts on the poll at Crosstabs.

FILED UNDER: 2006 Election, Public Opinion Polls, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. madmatt says:

    Oh yes a big round of applause for [deleted for violation of site comments policy] and his staff for paying for a 3rd party candidate to siphon away votes from his challenger as opposed to actually having done something for his constituents! I love what rethugs have become, crass manipulators of the electoral system…also known as fascists!

  2. I remember back in November when a commenter at another site from PA said not to worry. As the campaign wore on, Casey was a lousy campaigner and would cut his own throat.

    If 3 in 10 likely voters don’t know Casey well enough yet, then that commenter’s position may hold some truth.

    If you look at the soft vote (23% of Casey voters and 28% of Santorum voters say they could change their mind), then this race is still wide open. Yes Santorum has an unenviable negative set of numbers, but if 23% of the Casey voters are soft despite those numbers, then there can be a race.

    If a Santorum win made the difference in the democrats gaining a senate majority, that would be worth it just to see the pundits heads explode. The one race everyone thought was safe to call.

    p.s. madmatt, if you really want to see some crass manipulation of the electoral system, check out the 2002 New Jersey senate race.

  3. lily says:

    Do you want Santorum to win? He’s every kind of extremist, surely a bad reflection on the Republican party. The “Democrats are worse” rationalization doesn’t work in his case.

    There is this claim coming from the right that the Democrats are being taken over by extremists. I don’t think the claim has any merits, but that’s beside my point which is the Republicans have already been taken over by extremists and Senator Sanatorium is one of them.

  4. Trest says:

    Listen, Rick is a patriot while Bob Casey is a liberal.

    The people of Pennsylvania are beginning to understand–with the events of last week–that to vote Santorum out of office will be a gift to the terrorists.

    A vote for Casey is a vote for insecurity.

    If you dont think so, you may find it interesting that Cindy “The Communist” Sheenan has named her “protest” site in Crawford, “Camp Casey” after Bob Casey in hopes that the anti-American liberal left will hijack the election in Pennsylvania.

    The new poll shows that the patriots of Pennsylvania will not let that happen. Santorum will rush to victory and our country will continue to be safe from terrorist threats.

  5. Anderson says:

    Have we officially decided that Trest is a liberal troll, and I just missed that meeting?

  6. madmatt says:

    [deleted for violation of site comments policy] her son was named casey and somehow I doubt he was named after bob casey [deleted for violation of site comments policy]

  7. Trest says:

    [deleted for violation of site comments policy] her son was named casey and somehow I doubt he was named after bob casey [deleted for violation of site comments policy]

    Big deal. She has probably made up the story in the face of criticism of her anti-American stance.

    The theme to remember here is that a vote for ANY Democrat gives hope and sustenance to the terrorists. A vote for Bob Casey equals a vote for the politics of “Camp Casey.” A vote for Rick Santorum equals a vote for freedom.

    Editor’s note: There is currently no policy against comments demonstrating either incredible stupidity or a parody of incredible stupidity.

  8. I kind of like the [deleted for violation of site comments policy] idea. It lets you slap down the offending party, still give some idea of what is going on if their are comments and if done right can make the troll look even more trollish.

    Given how long this race has been in the headlines, any idea why the soft votes for each side is so high? 10% undecided and 27% willing to change their vote just seems very high for such a high profile race.

  9. Trest says:

    Editor’s note: There is currently no policy against comments demonstrating either incredible stupidity or a parody of incredible stupidity.

    Listen, I am not sure what is meant by this.

    We have to remember that we are AT WAR FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

    On most every substantive policy issue, the Defeat-ocrats are out-polling Republicans. Frank Luntz did a great study recently indicating that the one area where we still have some leverage is in the terrorism/national security game.

    Thus, if we are going to insure the FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY and keep it from being controlled by Neddy Lamont and Teddy Kennedy, we need to assert the message.

    Simply put: a vote for Democrats is a vote for submission to terror and an alliance with evildoers. If the Democrats win we will be having Jessie Jackson, Jr. and Barney Frank HOLDING THE NATION HOSTAGE through the Congressional appropriations process.

    As President Bush said today: our country is “safer than it has been, but it’s not yet safe. The enemy has an advantage when attacking our homeland.”

    Would you feel safe with John “the Coward” Murtha and John “Hanoi Jane” Kerry in control? These guys–like Casey–are big time cowards who would sell us to the enemy.

    People forget Kerry saying that defeating terrorism was a law enforcement job. Like a cop issuing parking tickets. We see in Britain how that whole “law enforcement” joke failed.

    Vote Democratic at your (and the nation’s) peril.