The 7th Congressional District campaign of Democrat Ed Potosnak is convinced U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Lebanon) hasn’t weathered his hardest race of the season in this Republican-leaning district.
They say they have the numbers to back up their claims.
In a Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group survey the campaign conducted June 23rd and 24th among 400 likely district voters, the poll gives positively ID’d Lance 47% of the vote to 43% for a positvely described Potosnak, a former Bridgewater-Raritan High School chemistry teacher.
Ten percent are undecided.
With just their names out there and no positive descriptions of the competitors, Potosnak sinks to 30%, compared to 43% for Lance and 23% undecided.
According to the poll leaked to PolitickerNJ.com, “the strong appeal of Ed Potosnak’s non-politician profile in an anti-incumbent year is borne out by Potosnak’s 49% to 40% lead among Independents, and by his three-to-one lead among undecided voters.”
Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in the 7th, 38% to 35% in an environment that most political experts say favors Republicans.
But the survey data attempts to spin Lance’s 55% showing in a Republican Primary in which he fended off three competing conservatives, as evidence of incumbent weakness.
“On every single measurement of an incumbent’s standing, Congressman Lance is well-below the critical 50% threshold,” according to the poll. “For example, just 31% of 7
th CD voters would like to see Leonard Lance reelected to Congress, while a 46% plurality think it is time to make a change and elect someone else.
“The overall 31% ‘reelect’ is a low number for Lance, but what is notable is his poor showing among Independents (24% reelect, 47% make a change) and even among Republicans (43% reelect, 39% make a change).”
The poll concludes that Potosnak could win.
“While the 7th CD electorate has a strong bias against incumbents, we do not underestimate Congressman Lance’s campaign skills that he has picked up in his nearly two decades in politics. However, we believe the overall political dynamics of 2010 make Ed Potosnak a credible and attractive challenger who has the potential to run a competitive and winnable campaign.”
The Lance campaign tried to look soberly at the poll – but couldn’t.
“Clearly this polling data has been cooked up at the request of the Potosnak campaign,” said Todd Mitchell, Lance’s chief of staff. “The fact is this is a race between a proven fiscal conservative in Leonard Lance and a Nancy Pelosi progressive in Ed Potosnak.
“Lance has been a clear voice for fiscal responsibility fighting against higher taxes, wasteful spending and growing debt. Potosnak wholeheartedly supports the Democrats’ tax, spend and borrow agenda, so voters couldn’t have a clearer choice come November 2nd.”
Ben Dworkin, director of Rider University’s David Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics, also viewed the poll results skeptically, but pointed to the basic, nearly equal party divisions of the Central Jersey district.
“These numbers are going to have to be seen by other pollsters in order for these numbers to be believed,” Dworkin said. “If Lance is vulnerable it has to be more one than one poll that shows it.
“But second, we shouldn’t forget that the 7th is a competitive district,” he added. “Just because Democrats haven’t put up a well-known, well-financed candidate doesn’t mean it isn’t competive. This district was a competitive district two yesars ago. Yes, it’s Republican-leaning, but not overwhelmingly Republican.”