Dem leads by 6 points in Pa. special election: poll

Democrat Conor Lamb is gaining ground in Pennsylvania’s closely watched special election and holds a 6-point lead over Republican Rick Saccone, according to a poll released a day before the race.

A new Monmouth University poll found that, if there’s a surge in Democratic voter turnout on Tuesday, Lamb garners a majority of the vote with 51 percent, compared to Saccone's 45 percent. One percent of voters polled support a third-party candidate, while 3 percent remain undecided.

But when looking at the race through a lower turnout model that resembles past midterm cycles, Lamb’s lead shrinks to just 2 points, 49 to 47 percent.

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Lamb’s bump in the polls comes as Republicans have become increasingly worried about a Democratic upset in a western Pennsylvania district that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE won by nearly 20 points in 2016. Rep. Tim MurphyTim MurphyJordan weathering political storm, but headwinds remain Saccone loses GOP primary comeback bid in Pa. Nearly half of voters hope for Dems to win majority in 2018: poll MORE (R) resigned from the seat in October, setting up the special election.

Monmouth’s poll has been more of an outlier than previous polls, which either show Lamb with a smaller lead or Saccone winning by a few points. And a survey conducted by Monmouth last month found the Republican state lawmaker leading by a small margin.

“This district has voted overwhelmingly Republican in recent elections, but a large number of these voters have blue-collar Democratic roots. Lamb seems to have connected with them,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“When added to a potential Democratic surge that has been building for weeks, Lamb appears to have picked off enough Republican-leaning voters to take a lead going into this contest’s final weekend. It would mark an extraordinary swing from Trump’s nearly 20 point victory here in 2016 if he could hold on to win,” said Murray.

Republicans have dumped millions of dollars into the race to keep it in GOP hands and fend off an embarrassing loss. GOP outside groups have spent more than $10 million on the race.

In the final days of the race, high-profile surrogates have been deployed to the district to boost Saccone or Lamb, a former federal prosecutor.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden: I’m ‘ashamed’ of Trump’s border policies Biden to ramp up campaigning for Dem candidates after Labor Day: report California Dems endorse progressive challenger over Feinstein MORE appeared with Lamb last week. Meanwhile, Trump held a rally on Saturday night that functioned as both an event to tout Saccone and his own reelection campaign in 2020. Other Trump allies and staffers have gone to the district to help the Pennsylvania Republican.

The poll was conducted from March 8 to 11 and surveyed 372 likely voters in the district. The survey has a margin of error of 5.1 percentage points.