The special election to replace John Murtha looks to be headed for a photo finish, with Republican Tim Burns leading Democrat Mark Critz 48-47 in PPP's final poll of the race.
PA-12 provides a clear example of how dimly voters are viewing politicians and parties across the board right now. Hurting Critz's chances is that 55% of voters in the district disapprove of Barack Obama and 63% have an unfavorable opinion of Nancy Pelosi. But national Republicans don't do much better in the district with 60% of voters expressing a negative opinion of Congressional Republicans and 63% saying the GOP ran the country poorly while George W. Bush was President.
If Burns does pull out the victory on Tuesday night it will be more because of a continuing gap in interest between Democratic and Republican voters in the off year election than anything else. Critz is actually winning over more McCain voters (14%) than Burns is Obama voters (12%). This race is not an example of people who voted for Obama who are now unhappy with him and voting Republican. But those planning to vote on Tuesday report having voted for John McCain by 5 points in 2008, compared to his actual 1 point victory in the district. And among voters who say they're 'very excited' to vote in this election, Burns has a 60-38 lead.
There's been very little movement in the race since PPP polled it a month ago. The main difference is that negative campaigning has driven up both candidates' negatives by 10-11 points. Where Burns' favorability was a net +19 in April it's now just +8. And where Critz was previously at a net +7 it's now -6.
Critz is holding onto a 73-22 lead with Democrats which is not bad at all in a district where even voters within the party have a negative opinion of Pelosi. But Burns is up 87-10 with Republicans and has a 52-31 lead with independents.
This should be a very close race on Tuesday night.
Full results here