Poll: Casey Who?

Philadelphia Daily News

With one of the best-known names in Pennsylvania politics, Bob Casey Jr. easily won a seat in the U.S. Senate six years ago during a referendum election on an unpopular Republican president.

But a poll to be released Thursday shows that more than half of the registered voters in the state don’t know enough about Casey to offer an opinion or are undecided about the Democrat’s performance as he seeks a second term.

Will President Obama’s re-election effort, sure to make many stops in Pennsylvania this year, help or hurt Casey’s effort?

A new Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows Obama easily defeating two potential Republican challengers, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, the man Casey bested by 18 percentage points in 2006.

But the news for Obama in the poll is mixed at best – his job performance is rising, but about half of the voters questioned don’t want him re-elected.

“He’s inched himself up until he’s in the mushy middle, which tells us that we literally are in a state that could go either way,” poll director G. Terry Madonna said Wednesday of Obama.

Look for Casey to cast himself as an independent voice for Pennsylvania, Madonna predicted.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party, facing a possible seven-man senatorial primary election April 24, has sought at every chance to link Casey to Obama’s economic policies.

The poll shows why: The economy, personal finances and unemployment continue to be voters’ chief concerns.

Just 23 percent said Obama is doing a good job with the economy, while 43 percent said he is doing a poor job and 27 percent rated him as only fair.

Asked how they were doing financially, 60 percent of the voters said they were about the same as last year, while 26 percent said they were worse off and 15 percent said they were better off.

Those numbers were slightly better than in a poll conducted in March 2011. And the voters this time showed some optimism – 53 percent said they expect to be in the same financial condition at the same point next year, while 27 percent expect to be better off and 13 percent expect to be worse off.

The voters are spreading the responsibility for their economic woes: 26 percent still lay the blame on former President George W. Bush, 7 percent blame Obama, 19 percent blame the U.S. Congress and 42 percent say they are equally to blame.

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