Barletta May Be Best-Positioned GOP Candidate in the Nation
On Monday, June 16, the Lou Barletta for Congress campaign released polling data our firm conducted earlier this year showing him poised to defeat long-time Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski in the 11th Congressional District (Lackawanna, Luzerne and parts of Columbia, Monroe and Carbon). In the poll, Lou’s image in the district is nothing short of excellent – a 59 to 13 ratio in positive to negative name ID, which really shows how much people admire and respect him since he stood up for his small, coal mining town of Hazleton (of which he has been their mayor for years) and passed the anti-immigration ordinance he believes is critical to help stop the bleeding in his crime-invested, cash and service-strapped city. In the poll, only 39% believe Kanjorski deserves reelection, while 45% say it’s time to give a new person a chance, and Lou holds a 5-point 47/42 lead over Kanjorski if the election were held today. Clearly this drives home the point that Lou is “in the hunt”.
Perhaps what’s most striking and even somewhat ironic is that Lou Barletta may be the best-positioned GOP congressional candidate in the entire nation to defeat a Democratic incumbent congressman in what otherwise should be a hugely successful year for the Democrats. All the evidence points to big gains for the Democrats in congress this year, and the three recent special elections in Mississippi, Illinois and Louisiana, all seats long held by Republicans that Democratic candidates won in upsets – is further evidence of the growing tide of Democratic gains headed for the November elections. Despite this favorable climate for the Democrats, Paul Kanjorski hasn’t benefited even slightly from any “bounce”. His numbers in the current poll are virtually unchanged from our poll in May ’07, almost like his poor image is stuck in the mud and he has no room for positive growth. For instance, his 50/25 favorable to unfavorable image in the current poll (which is much lower than Lou’s 4:1 image) has actually worsened since last year when he had a 57/17 positive to negative image. This means there are serious cracks in his reputation since a 25% “negative” is way too high especially in a district that leans in his favor by a near 2:1 ratio in Democratic registration. Plus, his 39% “reelect” is virtually unchanged from 38% last year, which means his base of support has flat lined even despite the favorable climate the Democrats have been bragging about lately. Pollsters generally regard incumbents with “reelects” under 40 as prime targets for defeat. [If you don’t believe us, just ask former State Rep. Tom Scrimenti, and former Congresswoman Melissa Hart, both of whom our polls showed were headed for defeat in past elections.] Since Kanjorski’s numbers haven’t moved an inch, the old mantra “a rising tide lifts all boats” simply doesn’t apply to him, and suggests he has clearly overstayed his welcome in an economically distressed district where voters are begging for the kind of leadership, courage and convictions that Lou Barletta has to offer. We hope Republicans at the national level stand up and pay attention because this is probably their best chance to win a seat back in what otherwise could be a tough year for the GOP.