Presidential Race In PA Could Impact Down-ballot Candidates

York Daily Record

President Barack Obama’s lead in Pennsylvania polls could be good news for Eugene DePasquale, a state lawmaker from West Manchester Township who is running for state auditor general.

“Down-ballot elections can often be … influenced by the top of the ticket,” said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. “We’re seeing more straight party voting.”

And Madonna said that could be true for the auditor general race, in which DePasquale is squaring off against fellow state Rep. John Maher, a Republican from Allegheny County, and Betsy Summers, the Libertarian candidate from Wilkes-Barre.

Madonna described the auditor general race as a low-visibility one.

“If Obama can carry the state by 7 or 8 (points), that’s obviously very helpful to Gene,” said Madonna. “If it’s a closer election, there are other variables.”

Bob Wilson, chairman of the York County Republican Party, said the top of the ticket will impact the other statewide candidates. But he said people shouldn’t write off Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s odds in the state.

“Pennsylvania is definitely in play,” Wilson said. “Keep in mind … Real Clear Politics has placed Pennsylvania from leaning toward the president to a toss-up state.”

The Real Clear Politics polling data aggregator for the general election had Romney with a 1 percentage point edge over Obama on Friday. But it had Obama up in Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and some other battleground states.

And for Pennsylvania, Real Clear Politics on Friday had Obama up 4.5 percentage points.

“I am constantly advising volunteers, concerned voters and others that I speak to on a regular basis not to ride what I call the roller coaster,” said Bob Kefauver, chairman of the York County Democratic Party. “You’re up one week, you’re down the next. It’s back and forth. And it sounds maybe a little tired to say this, but truly, the only poll that really counts is on Election Day.”

Madonna said the Obama and Romney campaigns and the super PACs that support them haven’t purchased television advertising in Pennsylvania since before the national conventions. He said any TV ads Pennsylvanians have been seeing were purchased nationally.

Both Maher and DePasquale said they are running grassroots campaigns. Maher said voters are looking beyond the presidential race. And DePasquale said the presidential race is something he can’t control.

“That’s just a reality, and you’ve got to campaign with that mind,” DePasquale said.

On the presidential ballot in Pennsylvania, there will also be Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a physician from Massachusetts, and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico.

“I think it will help me, because he is such a quality candidate,” said Summers, adding that Johnson’s polling numbers would increase if he were allowed to participate in the presidential debates with Obama and Romney. “It’s just hard to get the word out.”

Here is a look at the latest campaign finance reports from the auditor general candidates, for the period covering May 15 to Sept. 17:

— Democrat Eugene DePasquale of West Manchester Township:

Amount brought forward from last report: $46,616.61

Total monetary contributions: $243,975 during the reporting period

Total expenditures: $107,886.52, during the reporting period

Ending cash balance: $182,705.09

Value of in-kind contributions: $1,372.07 Unpaid debts and obligations: $0

— Republican John Maher of Allegheny County:

Amount brought forward from last report: $18,361.42

Total contributions: $152,952.64 during the reporting period

Total expenditures: $84,930.39 during the reporting period.

Ending cash balance: $83,383.67

Unpaid debts and obligations: $303,263.31 for the entire campaign. Maher loaned the money to his own campaign.

— Libertarian Betsy Summers of Wilkes-Barre:

— She said she hasn’t accepted any campaign contributions yet.

“We just got on the ballot on Wednesday for sure,” she said.

Summers said she will probably use any contributions she does accept just for gas money.

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