PennLive.com: NewsFlash - Poll: Santorum's support of Bush hurts re-election prospects: "Poll: Santorum's support of Bush hurts re-election prospects
12/13/2005, 6:30 a.m. ET
By MARTHA RAFFAELE
The Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's support of President Bush hurts his chances for re-election next year, Pennsylvania voters said by a 2-1 margin in a poll released Tuesday.
More than one-third of all Republicans surveyed in the Quinnipiac University poll also said Santorum's re-election prospects aren't helped by his support of the president.
The poll showed Democratic state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. leading the two-term Republican incumbent by 50 percent to 38 percent in the 2006 Senate race, compared to a 52-to-34 percent lead in Quinnipiac's October poll. Voters also said they disapprove of Bush's job performance, 59 percent to 38 percent.
"President Bush is clearly hurting Santorum in Pennsylvania, and he's still further behind than an incumbent should be entering the campaign year," said Clay Richards, assistant director of the Hamden, Conn., university's polling institute. "Santorum's best hope is for a third-party abortion-rights candidate to emerge and pull Democratic votes from Casey."
The survey of 1,447 Pennsylvania voters was released one day after Santorum, the Senate's No. 3 Republican, attended a speech by Bush in Philadelphia that was part of the president's public relations campaign to promote Iraq war policies.
Santorum bypassed Bush's last stop in Pennsylvania, at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Monroe County on Nov. 11, citing a prior commitment in Philadelphia.
Santorum's approval rating rose, with 48 percent approving and 38 percent disapproving, up from 43 percent approving and 41 disapproving in October, the poll found.
Santorum was viewed favorably by 35 percent of the electorate, and Casey was viewed favorably by 40 percent, the poll found. But 34 percent said they did not yet know enough about Casey, the poll found.
Casey was viewed unfavorably by 6 percent of those surveyed compared to 28 percent who viewed Santorum unfavorably.
Casey is widely considered the Democratic front-runner in the race. The respondents were not asked about any other Democratic Senate primary candidates.
The telephone poll, conducted from Nov. 30 through Dec. 6, carries a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
The poll also shows Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell maintaining a lead in hypothetical matchups against each of four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year.
Rendell's lead is 29 percentage points over Jim Panyard, a former director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association; 25 percentage points over state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin; 13 percentage points over former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann; and 12 percentage points over former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III.
Rendell's approval rating also improved to 51 percent from 46 percent in the university's October poll."