Is this latest poll on the right track or off the rails? 

According to new polling from DFM Research, sponsored by SMART Transportation Division’s Pennsylvania State Legislative Board, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) leads Democratic challenger Christina Finello, an Ivyland Borough Councilwoman, in the race for the 1st Congressional District. Fitzpatrick leads Finello by 12 points, 47-to-35, while 14% remain undecided, and 4% said another candidate. It interviewed 384 likely voters in the district from August 16-18 and has a  ± 5% margin of error.

According to the analysts at FiveThirtyEight, DFM Research polling favors Democrats by an average of 1.5% and has an overall B/C grade. As with any internal poll, the results should be taken with a grain of salt. According to DFM Research’s “Research Project” page, current and past clients include American Federation of Teachers in Connecticut; two Democratic statewide candidates for office in Minnesota in 2018; North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming’s Democratic Party, and more.

DailyKos reports that transportation workers union SMART does not appear to have backed either candidate in Pennsylvania’s 1st District. 

Fitzpatrick’s advantage in this poll could be attributed to how Finello remains largely unknown in the district. 40% said that they never heard of Finello and 24% have a neutral opinion of her. She does carry a positive net approval rating in this poll with 21% saying that they have a favorable opinion of her, while 15% have an unfavorable opinion of the Democratic challenger. 

47% have a favorable view of Fitzpatrick, while 40% have an unfavorable view of the incumbent congressman. 11% have a neutral opinion of Fitzpatrick and 2% said that they never heard of him. 

The Finello campaign declined to comment on the poll, while Fitzpatrick’s campaign believes it shows that her campaign has “lost all credibility.”

“It’s clear voters don’t trust Christina Finello,” said Kate Constantini, Fitzpatrick campaign spokesperson. “Her refusal to discuss the issues on a debate stage and dark money groups releasing fake polls to boost her campaign are just a few of the reasons why she has lost all credibility.”

The two were originally set to debate three times, although Finello cited scheduling issues to cancel one of those debates. According to Finello’s campaign website, she supports a “constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling to end dark money’s influence on our elections.”

Fitzpatrick is the lone Republican with a positive net approval rating in this polling. Sen. Bob Casey (40-to-31) and Gov. Tom Wolf (49-to-44), hold positive net approval favorability ratings, while Sen. Pat Toomey’s (34-to-43) favorability rating is under water. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden has an advantage over President Donald Trump in the presidential contest, plus in favorability ratings. 51% have a favorable view of Biden, while 46% have an unfavorable view of the former VP. 43% have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 55% have an unfavorable view. 

52% said that they’d vote for Biden in the 1st Congressional District if the presidential election were held today, while 43% said that they’d vote for Trump. In 2016, these boundaries narrowly went for Sec. Hillary Clinton over Trump. 

41% of likely voters in the district think that Pennsylvania is moving in the right direction, while 41% think that the state is off on the wrong track, and 19% are unsure. 

The polling also included likely voters’ opinions on several Amtrak related questions. 

32% said that Amtrak should have more than 40 daily trains from Philadelphia to places like New York City, Washington D.C., Harrisburg, and all points across the country; 42% said that the passenger rail services should be kept at the same level; 3% said that the passenger rail service should be reduced; 1% said it should be eliminated; and 21% are unsure.

58% said that they either strongly or somewhat support expansion of train service of more than 1 daily train between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, while 12% strongly or somewhat oppose, and 31% are neutral. 

81% said that they supported H.R. 2, which included a railroad provision requiring a minimum crew of two to operate freight trains in the United States, while 6% said they opposed this provision, and 12% said they were unsure. 

A slew of internal polls in this race paint completely different pictures of the showdown, although this Democratic friendly poll is more inline with the recent GOP internal polls. GOP internal polls over the summer have shown Fitzpatrick up by double digits, while Democratic internal polling shows Fitzpatrick and Finello neck and neck. However, one constant in this polling is that former Vice President Joe Biden holds a lead over President Donald Trump in this purple-trending-blue suburb of Philadelphia. 

This is also the second congressional race that DFM Research has polled in the state. A poll released last week showed Democratic challenger Eugene DePasquale leading Rep. Scott Perry (R-York) by 2 points, 46-to-44, in the race for the 10th Congressional District. 

Three national ratings outlets have the race in PA1 leaning in Fitzpatrick’s favor. Inside Elections lists the race in PA1 as Tilt Republican; Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has it as Leans Republican, and the Cook Political Report has it as Leans Republican.

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Author: John Cole

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