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Poll: Lamb Holds Double-Digit Lead Over Rothfus

Don Wright/AP, Conor Lamb for Congress
Republican Keith Rothfus (left) trails Democrat Conor Lamb in a poll released Wednesday by Monmouth University in New Jersey.

A new poll shows U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D - Mt. Lebanon) maintaining a double-digit lead over U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R - Sewickley) in the closely-watched race for Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District.

The poll, which Monmouth University released Wednesday, shows Lamb has a 54 to 42 percent advantage over Rothfus among likely voters, with 4 percent of voters undecided. Lamb maintains roughly the same edge in other possible turnout scenarios.

Credit Monmouth University
Questions one and two of the most recent Monmouth University poll, asking about candidates Keith Rothfus and Conor Lamb.

If there’s a surge in Democratic voter turnout, Monmouth predicts Lamb will win by a 55 to 41 percent margin. A low-turnout model projects a 54 to 42 percent win for Lamb.

“This newly drawn district has a lot of active Democrats as well as voters with a past history of voting Democratic," Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement accompanying the poll. "Lamb simply dominates across the entire district."

The results of Wednesday’s poll are consistent with with a Monmouth survey from July. At that time, Lamb led Rothfus 53 to 40 percent among likely voters.

The matchup between Lamb and Rothfus is the only House race in the nation to pit two incumbents against each other. The congressmen were both drawn into the 17th District as part of a court-ordered redistricting this winter. The district now covers Allegheny County suburbs, including the North and South Hills, as well as all of Beaver County and Butler County’s Cranberry Township.

While Rothfus has represented most of the communities in the district since 2013, Lamb has only served in Congress since April. He won a highly-contested special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R - Upper St. Clair) in March.

“[Lamb] is better known and better liked than his three-term Republican opponent,” the Monmouth statement said. “Voter disapproval of President Donald Trump and concerns about health care costs are key factors driving this race.”

Monmouth said it completed most of the interviews for Wednesday’s poll before a televised debate between the two candidates Monday. During the debate, Rothfus and Lamb differed sharply on tax cuts and the need to fund Social Security and Medicare.

Rothfus said the Republican tax cuts would fund those programs by driving job creation. But Lamb said the cuts favor the wealthy and big corporations and will add over a trillion dollars to the national deficit. Lamb favors shoring up the programs by taxing wealthy earners more.

Healthcare was also a major point of disagreement, with Lamb supporting fixes to Obamacare and Rothfus calling for its repeal.