Bob Casey, Jr. (D-inc): 51 (51)
Charlie Dent (R): 31 (31)
Undecided: 18 (18)
Bob Casey, Jr. (D-inc): 50 (49)
Jim Gerlach (R): 32 (33)
Undecided: 19 (18)
Bob Casey, Jr. (D-inc): 49 (48)
Rick Santorum (R): 37 (41)
Undecided: 13 (10)
Bob Casey, Jr. (D-inc): 51 (50)
Marc Scaringi (R): 28 (27)
Undecided: 21 (22)
Bob Casey, Jr. (D-inc): 51
Jake Corman (R): 35
Bob Casey, Jr. (D-inc): 51
Laureen Cummings (R): 32
Bob Casey, Jr. (D-inc): 50
Kim Ward (R): 29
What to say here? As you can see, Casey’s numbers are little changed from January, when PPP first tested the race. He’s at almost exactly 50% against everyone he faces, and no one does better than 37%. But that figure is misleadingly high: If the universally-known Rick Santorum is only at 37 right now, how can he expect to go much higher? His favorable rating (you’ll need to check PPP’s presidential poll, since they tested him there) is just 37-47, which is pretty ugly. In any event, Santorum seems pretty committed to a pointless presidential run; I’d be surprised to see him go for a rematch.
Every other potential candidate is entirely unknown, with anywhere from 75 to 84% of respondents expressing no opinion on this batch of Republicans (and among those who do know this crowd, all have negative ratings). Of course, that means someone like state Sen. Jake Corman has proverbial “room to grow,” but with Casey already at 50, he’d need to pull away people who are already willing to support the incumbent.
So my money is on Casey, despite his relatively soft job approval numbers. I think Tom Jensen has it right:
On one hand, he has weak approval numbers-only 39% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 35% who disapprove-you can certainly get defeated with those kinds of numbers. On the other hand he leads seven potential opponents for next year that we tested against him by anywhere from 12 to 23 points-you’ll pretty much never get defeated with those kinds of numbers.
My sense is that Casey is not terribly vulnerable. Here’s the thing about his low approval numbers-Democrats aren’t in love with him. Just 55% approve of him and 22% disapprove. Generally you’ll see a Senator closer to the 70% or 80% mark within his own party so his lack of approval from the party base is what’s keeping Casey’s approval number under 40%. But even though they don’t necessarily like Casey, Democrats are still perfectly willing to vote for him-he gets 78-80% of the Democratic vote in head to head match ups against the seven Republicans we tested. And his 19% approval number with Republicans, although it may not sound like much, is actually a pretty decent amount of crossover support in this highly polarized political climate.
The GOP has had a hard time recruiting any big names, and these numbers help explain why. The biggest note of caution, I think, is the very Dem lean of this sample: 51 D, 38 R, 11 I. It was 44-37-18 in 2008. It’s hard to imagine Democrats having such a big advantage on election day next year. Nonetheless, even if you reallocated those “extra” Ds to the independent column, Casey would still out ahead, since he holds sizeable leads with indies against every candidate (except, oddly, Santorum). This is a race where you’d simply rather be Team Blue than Team Red.