UD poll projects heavy leads for Carper, Blunt Rochester

Tom Carper

DOVER — To no surprise, a new poll from the University of Delaware has the two Democratic incumbents seeking re-election to Congress on Nov. 6 up by big margins.

Released Tuesday, the survey of 908 registered voters reports 60 percent of respondents said they plan to give Sen. Tom Carper a fourth term and 54 percent said they support Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester’s campaign for re-election.

Republican Senate nominee Rob Arlett received support from 22 percent of respondents, while 5 percent said they would vote for Libertarian Nadine Frost and another 2 percent said they back Green Demitri Theodoropoulos. Twelve percent said they either oppose all the candidates or are unsure who they would pick.

In the House race, 26 percent of participants expressed support for Republican Scott Walker, and 20 percent picked neither him or Rep. Blunt Rochester.

“It’s no surprise that Carper, a Delaware institution, and Blunt Rochester – a Democrat in a blue state running against a politically damaged opponent – are enjoying comfortable leads in their respective election races,” Paul Brewer, a UD communication professor and the research director of the university’s Center for Political Communication, said in a statement.

“What is surprising is how much they’re winning by, where they are winning and the support they are receiving from voters who typically cast their ballots for candidates on the other side of the aisle.”

According to the poll, Sen. Carper has sizable advantages in all three counties, even pulling in 52 percent in Sussex, Mr. Arlett’s home county. Twenty-five percent of Republican respondents said they support Sen. Carper, while just 1 percent of Democrats who answered the survey said they plan to vote for Mr. Arlett.

Rep. Blunt Rochester’s numbers are not quite as strong, but she still has a commanding lead over her opponent, who was officially disavowed by the state GOP Friday. Mr. Walker, who defeated the Republican Party’s preferred candidate in a primary, has made a number of bizarre and potentially inflammatory statements, such as calling several Democratic officials racists and blasting prominent Delaware Republicans.

Lisa Blunt Rochester

“We apologize to the voters of Delaware and our Party faithful that these series of unfortunate events have led to this situation,” Republican Party Chairman Mike Harrington wrote in a letter Friday.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 11 to 17. Since then, the GOP has not only effectively shunned its nominee for the House but the resignation of New Castle Count GOP Chairman Peter Kopf over dissatisfaction with Mr. Arlett winning the Senate primary has become public.

The survey results are reflective of what some have called a potential blue wave, where motivated Democratic voters turn out en masse to flip control of Congress. Given Delaware’s lean — about 47.2 percent of Delaware voters are registered Democrats compared to the 27.8 percent listed as Republicans — and the incumbency advantages Sen. Carper and Rep. Blunt Rochester enjoy, the survey’s conclusions reflect conventional wisdom and projections from polling companies and media outlets.

But Mr. Harrington said Tuesday his party has conducted internal polls that have the races much closer, and he is confident Mr. Arlett can unseat Sen. Carper. Surveys can be wrong, he noted, pointing to polls that expected Hillary Clinton to win the presidency on Nov. 8, 2016.

“It reminds me of the evening of Trump when all the media across the country, every single one, predicted that he was going to lose, and the thing they’ve forgotten about is the silent majority of the voting population,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Carper campaign said Sen. Carper “will keep working hard to earn the continued support of voters in the First State and send a clear message to President Trump with strong turnout and decisive victories for Democrats in November.”

The UD survey has a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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