Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kanjorski Has Lost His Edge

Pennsylvania’s 11th District

New Rating: No Clear Favorite

Old Rating: Leans Democratic

Moving this Democratic-held district to No Clear Favorite from Leans Democratic is an exception to the general trend that House races are moving in the Democrats’ direction. Independent surveys show a competitive race between Kanjorski and Republican Lou Barletta, the mayor of the northeastern Pennsylvania city of Hazleton.

This is a rematch of a 2002 race that Kanjorski won by 14 percentage points, in a district that includes Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. But Barletta is more prominent now, largely because his vigorous activism against illegal immigration has given him fairly high name recognition for a non-incumbent and appears to be peeling away some of the Democratic support long enjoyed by Kanjorski, who was first elected in 1984.

One independent survey released Sept. 17 showed Barletta leading Kanjorski, 44 percent to 35 percent, and McCain running even with Obama in a district that is ancestrally Democratic but culturally conservative. Later that day, the DCCC responded with a Democratic poll that said Kanjorski was ahead, 48 percent to 39 percent. The DCCC said that the poll showed that Kanjorski had a “strong lead,” though it didn’t release the results of any poll questions beyond two that cast Kanjorski in a better light than Barletta.

Kanjorski has a huge campaign treasury, but the DCCC’s continued heavy spending in Pennsylvania’s 11th — it reported putting more than half a million dollars into independent expenditures through Oct. 6 — is a clear indication that Democratic officials really think Kanjorski is in trouble.

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