Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New Poll Shows "Gay Bashing" Santorum On The Ropes

Empire Information Services: News Story: "DC GOP WEBSITE: TIME FOR SANTORUM TO GET OFF THE ROPES, OFF THE DEFENSIVE

By Gordon Hensley, DCspectator.com

WASHINGTON, DC -- (09/27/2005; 0930)(EIS) -- While the news from Iraq, rising gas prices and Hurricane Katrina are all high profile world and national events contributing to President Bush's dip in the polls, another political drama has unfolded over the spring and summer in Pennsylvania: day by day, week by week, and month by month, incumbent GOP Senator Rick Santorum has been sinking in electoral quicksand.

Through a combination of bad political judgment, inept news management, and the failure to articulate a coherent rationale for his reelection, Santorum has made a tough re-election against State Treasurer Bob Casey still more difficult.

To be sure, Santorum and his campaign staff are dealing with a problematic in-state generic political environment that would be cause for concern even if running a flawless campaign. But despite a robust, successful fundraising effort, Santorum has spent the entire summer on the run and on the defensive -- largely of his own making.

Columnist Robert Novak, recently noting the "negative political fallout" from Santorum's new book, "It Takes a Family", summed up the situation by recently reporting, "Republican insiders in Washington fear that Sen. Rick Santorum. is in serious danger of losing his seat next year to his Democratic challenger because of a poorly planned and ill-conceived campaign." And after debating himself in the media for the better part of the summer as to his presidential aspirations, the Senator and his campaign are coming to terms with polling data, from a variety of sources that show Casey hovering close to or slightly above 50%, while Santorum sits between 38-42%.

A private poll conducted for a Pennsylvania business interest over the past two weeks that has not been made public has the race at 45-40%. But the poll's internals are still troubling. Asked what they have read, seen or heard about Santorum, respondents volunteer answers such as "gay bashing," the "anti-Hillary, anti-woman book," "Terry Schiavo," and other emotional, hot button topics that drive opposition intensity.

As his team looks over the political field of play, one of Santorum's most pressing challenges will be to elevate his numbers among GOP and independent-leaning women in the Philadelphia metro area.

Leslie Gromis-Baker, widely regarded as the most seasoned GOP political organizer in Pennsylvania, says "The biggest challenge as well as the biggest opportunity for Rick is to get back southeastern Republicans who have voted Democrat in the last several statewide elections. One thing we learned in Pennsylvania from the 2004 presidential election is that a candidate can get virtually every vote west of Chester County and still lose the state if you lose the Philadelphia media market in a landslide".

Despite the lingering unhappiness and unease among Republicans about Santorum's chances, there is finally a sense the campaign is attempting to turn the corner, and understands "the urgent need to recalibrate," as one DC-based GOP pollster gingerly put it."

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