Poll shows Conor Lamb with double-digit lead over Keith Rothfus
Democrat Conor Lamb holds a double-digit lead over Republican Keith Rothfus in the race for the newly drawn 17th Congressional District northwest of Pittsburgh, according to a new Monmouth University poll.
Fifty-one percent of potential voters support Lamb, compared to 39 percent for Rothfus, according to the results. Nine percent were undecided. Monmouth polled a group of 401 people in the district who have either voted in an election since 2010 or who have recently registered to vote, and the margin of error was 6.8 percent.
Lamb, 34, of Mt. Lebanon won a special election in March to serve out the remainder of former Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s term in the existing 18th Congressional District south of Pittsburgh. Since then, the state Supreme Court implemented a new congressional district map after ruling the old map had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans.
Rothfus, 56, of Sewickley has represented the 12th District since 2012, when he unseated incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Critz.
“Rothfus knocked off a Democratic incumbent in 2012 largely due to a favorably drawn map. It looks like the new court-ordered map could be responsible for his defeat if these poll results hold,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a news release.
The court’s map creates the unusual situation of two incumbents facing one another, and each represents a portion of the new 17th District.
Even in the portion of the new district that Rothfus represents, poll results showed the two candidates within a percentage point of one another. In Lamb’s portion of the district, he leads Rothfus 54 percent to 37 percent, according to the poll.
In 2016, President Trump won in the 12th District by about 20 points, while he won in the areas that make up the new district by only two points, according to the release. Forty-four percent of the new district approves of Trump’s performance, while 51 percent disapprove, the results show.
The poll found 63 percent of respondents indicated it was important for them to cast a vote for a member of Congress that reflects how they feel about the president.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi could also factor into the race. Twenty-one percent of poll respondents said Lamb has been too supportive of Pelosi, while 35 percent said Lamb has offered the right amount of support.
Lamb announced during his 18th District campaign he wouldn’t vote for Pelosi to lead the House if elected.
The Monmouth poll was conducted by telephone from July 19 to 22. Fifty percent of the poll respondents were registered Democrats, while 38 percent were registered Republicans and 12 percent were registered with neither party, Monmouth said. When pollsters asked voters what party they identified with, 38 percent said they were Democrats, 34 percent said they were Republicans and 28 percent said they were independent.
Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Wes at 412-380-5676, [email protected] or via Twitter @wesventeicher.