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

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
U.S. Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa. 10) speaks to reporters after participating in a Rotary Club of York candidate forum at the Country Club of York Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. He is seeking reelection for the 10th Congressional seat. His opponent, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, will be featured at a similar Oct. 7 event. Bill Kalina photo

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry leads state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale by 6.3 percentage points in the 10th District Congressional race, according to a poll commissioned by The York Dispatch.

Some 44.7% of voters will "definitely" or were "leaning toward" supporting Perry, R-Carroll Township, in November, according to the poll, which surveyed likely voters between Aug. 18 and Sept. 3. DePasquale had the support of 38.4% of likely voters.

But it's the undecided voters, who made up 10% of the total sample, that could ultimately decide the race, the poll suggests.

The Voter's Self Defense System

Some 5.2% of the 1,100 voters surveyed said they had yet to make up their minds but were leaning toward supporting DePasquale. Just 1.5% of those respondents were leaning in Perry's direction. 

"That was my No. 1 takeaway," said John Marling, president of Pulse Research, the Oregon-based company that conducted the poll. "That's huge. Only 1.5% of the undecideds are thinking about voting for Perry. And you still have 10% still deliberating."

With all the data, the race for Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District is a "toss-up," Marling concluded.

More:DePasquale poll: Race for Pa. 10 is tight

More:State HRC, Congress member condemn Perry in joint statement

The poll commissioned by The York Dispatch is the fourth poll of the race and had a 2.9% margin of error. It was the first of the race that showed a candidate leading outside the margin of error.

Of note, the poll found Democrat Joe Biden leading president Donald Trump, 45.7% to 42%, in the race for the White House, with 7.5% undecided. Trump won the district by 9 points in 2016.

“People used to vote the ticket,” Marling said. “I don’t think that’s the case in today’s world.”

In all previous polls, two of which were internal polls by DePasquale's campaign, the results indicated a statistical tie. The Democrat led in two of those polls, but those leads fell within the margin of error.

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

"It is clear Congressman Perry is vulnerable, and as voters get to know Eugene, his support continues to grow," said DePasquale campaign spokesperson Kunal Atit.

Perry's campaign does not comment on polls.

In past polls, DePasquale's numbers have also been met with indicators that he is struggling with name recognition. 

Yet The York Dispatch's poll was the first to show that his Republican opponent seems to be struggling as well, as only 32.9% of respondents in the 10th District knew that Perry was their representative.

"Members of Congress represent districts that are very large in terms of population and in terms of geographic areas," said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. "That doesn't surprise me."

Pennsylvania's 10th District race is expected to be one of the most competitive in the country.

National political analyses from Politico, The Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball have all labeled the race a tossup.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.