Last updateFri, 08 May 2020 6pm


Narrow Republican Lead in Pennsylvania Congressional Race

default article imageRepublican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick has a four point advantage over Democratic challenger Scott Wallace in the race for Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District (PA-01), according to a recent poll released by the University’s Polling Institute on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science, explained that the most important aspect at play in the PA-01 race is that it will be one of the first general elections in which the state will be using its redrawn Congressional District maps, after the former maps were considered unconstitutionally gerrymandered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

 “Pennsylvania was seen as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country,” he said. “State-wide, this should offer Democrats an advantage in terms of vote share and seat distribution. Specifically for [PA-01], Fitzpatrick is the incumbent in [PA-08, from the previous map].”

 Fitzpatrick won his election with nearly 54 percent of the vote in 2016. At the time, his district included Philadelphia suburbs, which leaned more Republican.

But the new PA-01 district now includes parts of Lansdale, which tends to lean much more Democratic, Chapman explained.

The newly drawn districts create the potential for a close race on Election Day.

The Institute reported that there are several underlying indicators in this race that would otherwise point to an advantage for Democrats, particularly the voters’ opinions of the president.

72 percent of likely voters polled that it is “very important” for their vote for Congress to reflect their support for/opposition to Trump.

According to the Polling Institute’s polling, most of the voters in PA-01 hold a negative view of President Donald Trump and 45 percent of them reported that they would like to see Democrats take control of Congress.

 The Republican incumbent nevertheless holds an affirmative reputation amongst his constituency.

Chapman explained that Fitzpatrick’s name-recognition, and his credible reputation among the voters, could be the cause of his edge in the race. 

“As Election Day gets closer, we could observe a shift even closer to parity. And, as the Monmouth University Polling Institute highlights, an uptick in Democratic turnout could create an even tighter outcome,” Chapman added.

“It’s also important to note that in general, first-term presidents tend to lose seats in Congress during their first mid-term elections, signaling the pendulum of politics is always in flux,” he concluded.

Patrick Murray, Director of the University’s Polling Institute explained that the Republicans have narrowed the enthusiasm gap since the summer.

 But because they haven’t entirely closed it, it is estimated that there will be tight races for seats in the House of Representatives this election cycle. “It will come down to the quality of candidates,” he said.

Murray also pointed to the differing polling results in PA-01 and New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District (NJ-07), adjacent districts with similar demographics. 

“Both districts have well-liked, moderate Republican incumbents. And both races have tried to paint their Democratic challengers as carpetbaggers,” he said. “Malinowski in NJ-07 has had a much more solid response to that charge than Wallace in PA-01.”

According to voters from the poll’s findings, 32 percent of PA-01 residents find Wallace “out of touch,” and 56 percent find Fitzpatrick to be “in touch” with voters.

“Even though Trump remains a drag on Fitzpatrick overall, the president’s supporters have grown a little more favorable toward the moderate incumbent, boosting potential turnout in the Republican base,” Murray says in the Polling Institute’s report.

The Institute’s poll also found that the sexual assault allegations against now-Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not have much of an impact on the PA-01 race.

According to the polling conducted, 83 percent of likely voters admitted that the hearings have not caused them to change their vote come Election Day. 

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151