Gerlach internal poll boasts massive lead (Updated)
Congressman Jim Gerlach’s (R-6) campaign on Tuesday released an internal poll showing the incumbent with a huge, 65-point lead over primary challenger Steven Welch, in its latest attempt to paint Welch’s candidacy as a futile effort that would only hurt the GOP.
A poll memo from the Republican polling firm Wilson Research Strategies said that, if the primary were held today, 71 percent of primary voters would back Gerlach, compared to 6 percent for Welch and 23 percent who remain undecided. Like other internal campaign surveys, only the poll memo was released, making it impossible to evaluate the poll in detail.
But it seemed more intended to bolster the argument that Welch will make it harder for Republicans to hold the 6th District seat in November.
“Republican voters in southeast Pennsylvania know Jim very well and they have already reached the conclusion that he is doing a good job in Congress and should be returned to Washington for another term,” campaign pollster Chris Wilson said in a statement. “With solid numbers like these, Jim is a virtual lock to win the Republican primary. Any primary challenge to Jim Gerlach at this point would only serve Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in Washington.”
There’s no reason to doubt that Gerlach would hold a wide lead three months before the primary; he’s a four-term congressman, going up against a political newcomer in Welch who has, so far, only introduced himself to voters through contact efforts like direct mail. But Welch, a wealthy biotech entrepreneur, is expected to spend heavily on his own campaign, and when he eventually begins flooding the airwaves, Gerlach could see his lead narrow fast.
The poll memo also sought to warn Welch against trying to run from Gerlach’s right, saying that 91 percent of “very conservative” voters view the incumbent favorably. The poll memo said the telephone survey of 300 likely primary voters was conductd Feb. 9-11, with a margin of error of 5.6 percent.
Gerlach was running for governor until last month, when he dropped out of the race to seek reelection instead. Having already stepped away from a run for Congress in the 7th District in favor of former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan, Welch said he was staying staying put in the 6th District primary to offer voters a “new direction.”
UPDATE—Welch issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon: “I appreciate Congressman Gerlach confirming what everyone already knows. While I do not have strong name identification, when 6th District voters know they have a choice, 1/3 of likely Republican voters either support my campaign or are undecided. I continue meeting with voters and local leaders, and I look forward to sharing my message about responsible results and a new direction in Congress.”
February 16, 2010 at 1:34 pm