Democrat Bob Casey appears to have doubled his lead over Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania's Senate race, according to a poll released today.
Mr. Casey had a 14-point lead in the Quinnipiac University Poll, with 54 percent of likely voters saying they planned to vote for him compared to 40 percent for Santorum. One percent said they wouldn't vote and 6 percent said they didn't know. Casey had a seven-point lead among likely voters in a match up between the two in the same poll on Aug. 15.
Yesterday, a state judge said Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli would be removed from the ballot because the party did not have enough valid signatures in its nominating petitions -- a move pundits said would help Mr. Casey.
In a three-way matchup, Casey led Santorum 51 to 39 percent among likely voters with 4 percent saying they would vote for Mr. Romanelli, the poll found. Five percent were undecided.
Mr. Santorum, the No. 3 Senate Republican, who has raised significantly more money than Mr. Casey, began running ads on air waves statewide in late June. Two months later, Mr. Casey went up statewide with TV ads.
Since, Mr. Casey seems to have made progress defining himself favorably, said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Connecticut-based university's polling institute.
Mr. Santorum's ads "are certainly not doing him any good," Mr. Richards said.
Both campaigns have run positive and negative ads, but one of Mr. Santorum's ads garnered attention because it implies that Mr. Casey's campaign team is comprised of men who are under investigation. It features actors supposedly portraying four big donors to Mr. Casey's campaign meeting inside a smoke-filled jail cell.
The senator's campaign has conceded that none of the men gave money to Mr. Casey's Senate campaign and that two contributed to Mr. Santorum's campaign, which donated the money to nonprofit groups.
Virginia Davis, a Santorum campaign spokeswoman said polls are unreliable and the campaign has no plans to alter the advertising campaign. Polls "don't impact how we communicate the senators' record," Ms. Davis said.
Larry Smar, a Casey campaign spokesman, said he was pleased that polling indicates that voters are responding to the message in Mr. Casey's TV ads.