West Long Branch, NJ – There is a mixed outlook in the race for the newly drawn Pennsylvania 7th Congressional District, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. Democrat Susan Wild has a small 6 point edge over Republican Marty Nothstein among all potential voters in this open seat contest, but that lead shrinks among likely voters. Neither candidate is particularly well-known, especially in parts of the district that are “new” to the constituency after court ordered redistricting this year. PA-07 also stands out because Democrats do not enjoy the voter enthusiasm advantage that Monmouth has found in other competitive races it has polled for the 2018 cycle.
Attorney Wild is supported by 46% and former Olympic cyclist Nothstein is supported by 40% of all potential voters – that is voters who have participated in an election since 2010 or have newly registered to vote (a group that represents about 84% of all registered voters in the district). Another 3% support Libertarian candidate Tim Silfies and 11% are undecided. The Democratic lead narrows when applying two different likely voter models. A historical midterm model gives Wild a slight 47% to 45% edge over Nothstein, while a model that includes a turnout surge in Democratic precincts shows the race at 48% for Wild and 44% for Nothstein. These margins, however, are not statistically significant for any of these scenarios.
“Monmouth has polled ten competitive House races so far this cycle. This is the first one where the Republican candidate’s prospects improved by more than a point when we applied our standard likely voter model,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
In the court-ordered map for the 2018 midterm election, 70% of PA-07’s electorate was drawn from the old 15th district formerly represented by Republican Charlie Dent. The remainder of the current district was carved out primarily from district 17 (represented by Democrat Matthew Cartwright) as well as a small segment of district 10 (represented by Republican Tom Marino). Among potential voters, Wild leads Nothstein by 8 points (47% to 39%) in the old PA-15 part of the district where both candidates live, but only by 3 points (46% to 43%) in the “newer” parts of the district. [Note: Nothstein and Wild are simultaneously running in a special election to fill the seat Dent left vacant when he resigned in May. The old PA-15 results in this poll only represent part of that special election constituency.]
Currently, 55% of PA-07 voters express a lot of interest in the November election for Congress. This includes 63% of self-identified Democrats and 61% of Republicans, but a smaller number of independents (39%). Nothstein voters (66%) are slightly more likely than Wild voters (62%) to express a lot of interest in the race.
“This is the only race we’ve polled this year where the enthusiasm gap does not favor the Democrats. Part of this may be due to the fact that neither candidate is particularly well-known, especially in the part of the district that is currently represented by a Democratic incumbent,” said Murray.
Wild receives a 30% favorable and 13% unfavorable rating from PA-07 voters, with 57% having no opinion of her. Nothstein receives a 26% favorable and 15% unfavorable rating, with 59% having no opinion of him. The percent of voters in the old PA-15 constituency who have no opinion of either candidate is 53% for Wild and 55% for Nothstein. The percent who have no opinion in the remaining part of the district is 66% for Wild and 69% for Nothstein. Wild does slightly better than Nothstein when voters are asked whether the candidates understand the day to day concerns of people like them. Nearly 4-in-10 (39%) say the Democrat does understand and 24% says she does not. Opinion is divided on Nothstein, with 33% saying he does understand their day to day concerns and 31% saying he does not.
Overall, 47% of PA-07 voters approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president while 49% disapprove. However, more voters strongly disapprove (41%) than strongly approve (29%). The poll finds that 61% of potential voters say it is very important for them to cast a vote for Congress that shows how they feel about the president – including 70% of Trump opponents and 66% of Trump supporters. PA-07 voters are divided on whether they would rather see Democrats (41%) or Republicans (38%) in control of Congress. Another 20% say that party control does not matter to them.
When asked to choose the top issue in their vote for Congress from a list of six policy areas, 30% pick health care, which is followed by immigration (21%), job creation (14%), gun control (13%), tax policy (9%), and abortion (5%). Health care is the most important issue for Wild voters (43%), while immigration is the top pick for Nothstein voters (33%). Among voters who are undecided or only leaning toward a candidate right now, health care (26%) and immigration (21%) are the most pressing concerns. The poll also finds that PA-07 voters are evenly split on the tax reform plan passed by Congress in December – 42% approve and 41% disapprove.
Less than half (45%) of PA-07 voters have seen or heard news that broke last month about Marty Nothstein being investigated for a possible incident of sexual misconduct with another cyclist some years ago. Published reports say that the investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport was closed, but the poll finds that a small number of voters believe he did engage in misconduct (4%) or say it is likely he might have done something inappropriate (10%). Another 1-in-5 say Nothstein did not engage in sexual misconduct (13%) or is not likely to have done something inappropriate (6%), while 11% are not sure and 55% have not heard anything about the incident. It does not appear to be impacting the overall campaign, as most of those voters who believe Nothstein did something inappropriate are Democrats who are likely to be supporting Wild regardless.
The newly drawn Pennsylvania 7th tends to lean Democratic in presidential elections and Republican in House contests. Voters in what is now PA-07 supported Barack Obama for president in 2012 by 7 points and Hillary Clinton in 2016 by just over one point. However, their House vote went to Republican candidates in both 2016 (by 9 points) and 2012 (by nearly 3 points). [The old PA-15 did not have a Democratic candidate in 2014, so no comparison can be made for that midterm.]
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 5 to 9, 2018 with 401 voters in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 5.7 percentage points for the likely voter models. The error of the gap between the two candidates’ vote share (i.e. the margin of the “lead”) is +/-6.8 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 8.0 percentage points for the likely voter models. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
QUESTIONS AND RESULTS
(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)
1/2. If the election for U.S. House of Representatives in your district was today, would you vote for Marty Nothstein the Republican, Susan Wild the Democrat, or Tim Silfies the Libertarian? [IF UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following at this moment, do you lean more toward Marty Nothstein or more toward Susan Wild] [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
|Likely Voter Models|
[QUESTIONS 3 & 4 WERE ROTATED]
3. Is your general impression of Marty Nothstein favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?
4. Is your general impression of Susan Wild favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of her?
5. How much interest do you have in the upcoming election for House of Representatives – a lot of interest, a little interest, or not much interest at all?
|Not much at all||15%|
|(VOL) Don’t Know||1%|
6. Have you been following the campaign in your congressional district very closely, somewhat closely, or not too closely?
|Not too closely||45%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||0%|
7. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president? [Do you (approve/disapprove) strongly or somewhat?]
|(VOL) Don’t know||4%|
8. On most issues would you say you support or oppose what President Trump is doing?
|(VOL) Don’t know||3%|
9. How important is it for you to cast a vote for Congress that shows your [support of/opposition to] President Trump – very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?
|Not too important||7%|
|Not at all important||5%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||10%|
10. Would you rather see the Republicans or the Democrats in control of Congress, or doesn’t this matter to you?
|Does not matter||20%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
11. Please tell me which one of the following policy issues is most important to you in your vote choice for Congress. [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
|Health care policy||30%|
|Gun control policy||13%|
|Job creation policy||14%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||1%|
12. Do you approve or disapprove of the tax reform plan passed by Congress in December? [Do you (approve/disapprove) strongly or somewhat?]
|(VOL) Don’t know||17%|
[QUESTIONS 13 & 14 WERE ROTATED]
13. Do you think Marty Nothstein does or does not understand the day to day concerns of people like you?
|(VOL) Don’t know||36%|
14. Do you think Susan Wild does or does not understand the day to day concerns of people like you?
|(VOL) Don’t know||37%|
15. Have you seen or heard recent news about Marty Nothstein being investigated for a possible incident of sexual misconduct from some years ago, or are you not aware of this?
|Have seen or heard||45%|
16/16A. Do you think Marty Nothstein did or did not engage in sexual misconduct, or are you not sure? [IF NOT SURE: Do you think it’s more likely or less likely that Nothstein might have done something inappropriate?]
|Not sure, but more likely||10%|
|Not sure, but think less likely||6%|
|Not aware (from Q15)||55%|
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 5 to September 9, 2018 with a random sample of 401 potential voters in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, drawn from a list of registered voters who voted in at least one of the last four general or primary elections or have registered to vote since January 2016. This includes 220 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 181 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, party registration, age, gender, education and race based on state voter registration list and U.S. Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and L2 (voter sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
Self-Reported Party ID
|83% White, non-Hispanic|
|68% No college degree|
|32% 4-year college degree|
|46% Lehigh County|
8% Monroe County
45% Northampton County
Current House district
3% PA 10
70% PA 15
27% PA 17
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.