Public Policy Polling looked into the special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, the seat vacated by the late Jack Murtha.
Republican Tim Burns comes out with a narrow lead, 44-41 (MoE 2.8) over Democrat Mark Critz. I see a 70% chance Burns is actually ahead right now, but of course a race this close could move either way by the end.
PPP notes that besides Critz being behind, Barack Obama, Arlen Specter, and Ed Rendell are all unpopular as well, making this a district and climate unfavorable to a Democrat in general. So, they say it would be surprising for Critz to win here.
I don’t think they go far enough. I suspect Critz is doing better than any of the three leaders of his party polled because of one advantage. Critz never had to make an official decision on the PPACA which is important when the poll shows disapproval of “President Obama’s health care plan” by a 59-28 margin.
Is that bill a problem more than party label? Are special elections giving fresh Democrats better chances to win than their incumbents will have later, meaning all the wins they’ve been racking up aren’t predictive of November? I think that just may be the case, reading polls like these.