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Poll: Dauphin County will be tightest in 10th District, a concern for DePasquale

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry is in a statistical tie with state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, according to a poll commissioned by The York Dispatch, but Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District race is closest in Dauphin County, home to the state capital and where DePasquale is known for his role in state government.

And if Dauphin County is as close as the poll found come November, DePasquale is in trouble, he admitted during a Wednesday editorial board meeting with The York Dispatch. His campaign is banking on winning that county by double digits.

"We think that on Election Day, if we're in a dead-heat in Dauphin, (Perry) is going to win by a sizable margin," DePasquale said, adding he was surprised by the poll result.

Of the 1,100 registered voters who participated in The York Dispatch poll, 373 were in Dauphin County, and according to their answers Perry and DePasquale were in a dead heat.

Each candidate had 167 respondents, or 44.8%, from Dauphin County who said they were either definitely voting for them, leaning toward voting for them or were undecided but considering voting for them.

Another 38 respondents, or 10.2%, said they were still deliberating and didn't indicate which way they were leaning.

DePasquale has particularly set a focus on the Harrisburg and York suburbs, he said Wednesday.

With such a close race, analysts have said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's recent ruling to extend the deadline to return mail-in ballots could have an impact on the 10th District race.

Congressman Scott Perry speaks during a town hall at Hummelstown Fire Department in Dauphin County Tuesday, July 30, 2019. It was the first in-person town hall by Perry in over two years. Bill Kalina photo

Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, also is the director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

Borick said a Democrat looking to unseat an incumbent Republican such as Perry will generally need a couple of "assists" to help him along.

This could mean the incumbent has a significant weakness or issue that leaves him or her vulnerable to lose the seat, or it could be the broader effect of having a positive association with the top of the Democratic ticket — in this case, presidential nominee Joe Biden — that boosts the down-ballot candidates.

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"If he’s able to get a little bit of a boost from the top of the ticket, and that’s further aided by procedural rulings that might give a boost to Democrats, it’s good news (for DePasquale)," Borick said.

Democratic voters have more readily adopted mail-in voting than Republicans, who generally distrust the security of the process, much like President Donald Trump, who has implored his base to vote in person at the polls.

More:The Dispatch poll: Perry up 6; undecided voters prefer DePasquale

More:Pennsylvania court gives Democrats wins in mail-in vote case

Now that mail-in ballots can be returned in Pennsylvania up to three days after Election Day, analysts agree there will be more Democratic votes counted, votes that may have been disqualified if they'd been delayed in the mail or arrived after Election Day.

G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, had a similar analysis.

"I think Democrats will use mail-in ballots more than Republicans, and therefore it could take a while before everything is counted and ultimately certified," he said.

Madonna said it might look as if Republicans are winning the night of the election, but that could change as more mail-in ballots are counted in the ensuing days.

Democratic congressional candidate Eugene DePasquale, of North York borough, tours businesses in York City, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Other counties: The 10th Congressional District also includes portions of York and Cumberland counties, which had 457 and 271 respondents, respectively, in The York Dispatch's poll.

Among York County's 457 respondents, 212 voters, or 46.4%, said they were either definitely voting for Perry, leaning toward voting for Perry or were undecided but considering voting for Perry, compared with 195 voters, or 42.9%, for DePasquale based on the same questions.

Another 48 York County respondents, or 10.5%, said they were still deliberating and didn't indicate which way they were leaning.

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Among Cumberland County's 271 respondents, 130 voters, or 47.8%, said they were either definitely voting for Perry, leaning toward voting for Perry or were undecided but considering voting for Perry, compared with 117 voters, or 43.1%, for DePasquale based on the same questions.

Another 24 Cumberland County respondents, or 9%, said they were still deliberating and didn't indicate which way they were leaning.

The poll had a 2.9% margin of error and was conducted by the Oregon-based company Pulse Research.

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