By Jonathan E. Kaplan - 07/19/06 12:00 AM EDT
GOP Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick’s lead over his Democratic opponent has slipped to just six points, according to a poll of the suburban Philadelphia district released Tuesday by Global Strategy Group, a Democratic polling firm.
Challenger Patrick Murphy is behind 44 to 38 percent, with 16 percent of voters undecided. In March, the gap was 14 points, but since then Murphy has increased his name recognition by 17 points. When pollsters gave respondents a fuller biographical sketch of Murphy, he led Fitzpatrick 55-36 percent.
Democrats are counting on voters’ widespread belief that the country is heading in the wrong direction to carry Murphy to victory. Fitzpatrick is well-liked on a personal level, but his support is “soft” — 42 percent of voters preferred a generic Democrat while 31 percent favored a generic Republican, the poll found.
Although Fitzpatrick won easily in 2004, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Vice President Al Gore both won the district with 51 percent of the vote in their presidential races.