Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania has a double-digit advantage over his Republican challenger, Rep. Lou Barletta, in the race for U.S. Senate, a new poll from Franklin & Marshall College said.
Casey has the backing of 44 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters compared to Barletta's 27 percent, the poll noted.
Casey is one of 10 Democratic senators vying for re-election in states that President Donald Trump won in the 2016 presidential election — which The Associated Press said puts a “target” on Casey’s back for Republicans.
Trump endorsed Barletta in the hopes he can take Casey's seat on Capitol Hill. Barletta was an early supporter of Trump and endorsed his presidential bid in March 2016 — before Trump took Pennsylvania’s primary election.
What else does the Franklin & Marshall poll show?
About 28 percent of Pennsylvania voters are undecided in regard to the Casey-Barletta battle, the poll said, with more independents (39 percent) and Republicans (34 percent) than Democrats (19 percent) having not chosen a candidate yet.
Two-thirds (66 percent) of the state’s voters said they don’t know enough about Barletta to have an opinion about him.
The poll results are based on responses from 472 Pennsylvania registered voters — 224 Democrats, 185 Republicans and 63 independents — with a 6.5 percent margin of error.
How do the F&M poll numbers for the Senate race compare to its numbers for the gubernatorial showdown?
The F&M poll also has Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf with a big lead over Republican Scott Wagner in the race for the state’s governor seat this fall: 48 percent to 29 percent.
However, more voters are undecided in regard to the U.S. Senate race (28 percent) compared to the gubernatorial race (23 percent) — and far more independents are undecided for the U.S. Senate race (39 percent) than for the gubernatorial race (23 percent).
In addition, the percentage of voters who said they don't know enough about Barletta to have an opinion about him (66 percent) easily eclipses the percentage of voters who said they don't know enough about Wolf to have an opinion about him (47 percent).
Wagner’s campaign on Thursday called the F&M poll’s numbers “inaccurate and misleading” while trotting out survey findings of its own that show Wagner trailing Wolf by just 7 points.
What does Barletta have to say about the F&M poll?
Barletta campaign spokesman David Jackson told TheBlaze he's "optimistic" about the poll and said it actually shows Casey is "vulnerable."
"In his eighth campaign for statewide office, more voters disapprove than approve of Casey’s job performance, 56 percent of voters won’t vote for Casey and Casey continues to badly lag behind the incumbent governor of his own party, who has only been on the ballot once compared to Casey’s eight times," Jackson said. "We are confident that as voters get to know Lou and his record of fighting for working families, this race will continue to tighten and Lou will win."