Internal polling from Democratic House candidate Manan Trivedi has lost ground against Republican Ryan Costello in the battle for Pennsylvania’s open 6th district, but has room to grow once the campaigns go on offense.
The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners for Trivedi’s campaign and obtained by The Hill, gives Costello 35 percent support to Trivedi’s 30 percent support among likely voters, with 35 percent undecided. That margin is near the poll’s 4.9 percent margin of error.
Still, the polling memo for Trivedi’s campaign is enthusiastic about his chances in his third bid for the seat, after the campaigns pick up. When voters were read positive, informative messages about both candidates, the race becomes a dead heat, with each candidate taking 38 percent support.
And when “the debate shifts to contrasting and negative messages on both candidates,” Trivedi surges to a 14-point lead, taking 43 percent to 29 percent support for Costello.
“This level of volatility in this data — including the marked deterioration in Costello’s support — is unusual in our experience, and speaks both to mood of this electorate and, frankly, to the severity of Costello’s vulnerabilities,” the polling memo declares.
It adds that the gubernatorial race could be problematic for Costello, as GOP Gov. Tom Corbett is down in the polls to Democrat Tom Wolf.
Trivedi and Costello have both been flagged as top contenders for their respective parties, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee adding Trivedi to its “Red to Blue” list, a designation for top pickup opportunities, and Costello added to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” list.
Still, the slight Republican lean of the district — Mitt Romney won it in 2012 by about two points — and Trivedi’s multiple failed bids both mean the GOP is favored to retain the seat, left open with Rep. Jim Gerlach’s (R-Pa.) retirement this fall.
Pete Peterson, Costello campaign spokesman, dismissed the poll as a "work of fiction" and said the release of the survey was "right out of the playbook for desperate candidates."
“Three-time Congressional candidate Manan Trivedi is trailing in the polls, his fundraising is far off the pace set in his prior races and the policies that are the bedrock of his campaign are being soundly rejected," he said. "Trivedi can push his work of fiction, but the reality is Ryan Costello is well-positioned to win this race with a sizable 13 point lead among voters and twice as much cash on hand as his opponent. Going forward, he will continue to work hard to earn every vote.”
The survey was conducted among 400 likely voters in the district from July 15-17, and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
—This piece was updated at 4:30 to reflect comment from Costello's campaign.