Numbers, both in polls and finance reports tell a story

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While Corbett’s numbers suggest a Democratic opportunity, can they raise enough $$ to take advantage?

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

TimesPoliticsUnusualNot to beat a dead horse, but there are even more bad poll numbers this week to make even the stoutest of Republicans more than a tad worried about not just the fate of Gov. Tom Corbett, but whether an electoral tsunami could hurt down-ballot candidates, but poll numbers may not be the only numbers to tell a story in November.

While we’re waiting for the final numbers on our own Times Poll (we’ve had great response so far, but if you haven’t voted, take a moment — the higher the number of responses, the better it will represent opinion around the county, as well as for our local coverage areas — and some of the preliminary numbers are really interesting), numbers keep coming out that suggest Tom Wolf has a very large lead in the November election race.

A Quinnipiac University poll suggests that Wolf holds a 59-35 lead among likely voters — with a fairly big sample size and solid methodology — phone interviews (which, interestingly, as younger more Democratic voters tend to be less likely to have landlines, usually skews the numbers slightly in favor of GOP candidates), one must take these numbers fairly seriously.

While many see a Wolf victory as all but inevitable, for Chester County voters, the real impact comes for the down-ballot races. If rank-and-file Republicans think Corbett has no chance, will they turn out to vote?

While turnout may be key, finances and fund raising numbers are another, and here is where the Democrats in Chester County continue to struggle — and the inability to bring in the cash could hurt come November.

As we await the Cycle 4 numbers, due in Sept. 23, we do have a snap shot of where the candidates stood heading into the summer — and some private indications of how summer fundraising has gone.

As a candidate, fundraising is a painful, time-consuming process. When I ran, I typically spent four hours every morning on the phone, “Dialing for dollars.” Fundraising and door-knocking are two key barometers of the “effort level” of a candidate in a state house race. Poor numbers in either (or God forbid, both) lead to whispers among party insiders and a corresponding lack of enthusiasm among county committee members, who are often tasked with getting out the vote in their precincts.

In the 74th state house race, without a primary opponent, Republican Harry Lewis Jr. had $26,911.11 on hand. Word is that he’s had a very solid summer raising money — and his Cycle 4 report, which is usually the best barometer of the financial health of any campaign is said by insiders to be looking very solid. On the other hand, Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell started the summer with a mere $241.82 on hand, although in fairness, he had a tough battle against Caln Commissioner Josh Young.

But word is filtering from both Harrisburg and county sources that there is extreme concern about about the state of Maxwell’s fundraising — so it should prove interesting to see what the Cycle 4 numbers look like.

In the county’s other open seat, the 158th District, Democrat Susan Rzucidlo had a healthy $18,213.69 on hand to start the summer and, multiple sources suggest, has been aggressive in working on her fundraising, so it is expected that she will have the ability to put up a strong fall campaign against Republican Cuyler Walker. Walker ended Cycle 3 with $12,170, less than Rzucidlo, but coming off a primary fight with Roger Howard, where he was forced to spend his funds. Also of note, Walker raised more than $64,000 in the opening six months of the year — so it’s likely his summer fundrasing more than replenished his campaign fund.

Worrisome in one of the districts most likely to be impacted if Corbett loses badly, Sandra Snyder had just $2,006.69 on hand to end the summer. Meanwhile Republican incumbent Dan Truitt had $26,852.04 — a large nest egg, but much less than some of his neighboring GOP incumbents, such as State Rep. Steve Barrar (160th District) who started the summer with more than $109,000 in hand. Snyder needed to have a strong summer fundraising cycle to be able to take advantage if GOP turnout in the 156th tanks. In the 167th, Democrat Anne Crowley had a solid $11,271 on hand to start the summer — and is said to be having a very solid summer. Numbers were not available from the state Department of State Web site (which continues to have issues) on incumbent GOP State Rep. Duane Milne’s finances.

In the state senate races, everyone is focused on the wild and wooly race in the 26th District, where Democrat John Kane and Republican Tom McGarrigle seek to replace the retiring state Sen. Ted Erickson. And boy, is there a lot of money there. Kane started the summer with $354,231.28, while McGarrigle started the summer with $441,201.25 — and reportedly big money is flowing into both campaigns, meaning you should expect to see a lot of campaign commercials from both candidates as they go to an all-out air war.

In the 44th, where County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, a Democrat, is seeking to oust Republican state Sen. John Rafferty, the Cycle 4 numbers should tell much of the story. Rafferty started the summer with $443,632.61, while Cozzone had $19,526.57. How much of that gap Cozzone is able to close will tell a lot of whether she will have the resources to take advantage if Corbett implodes.

So you may want to circle that Sept. 23 date as one that could tell us a lot about the fate of the county’s legislative races.

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