State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

As Trump's poll numbers fall, Toomey may look to split tickets

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 9, 2016 11:19 PM
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If Trump loses in Pennsylvania, Toomey will have to rely on voters to split their tickets. (Photo by AP)

(Harrisburg) -- Donald Trump's poll numbers are down in Pennsylvania--he currently trails opponent Hillary Clinton by nearly nine points in a recent state average.

But that's not just bad news for Trump.

In election years, down-ballot races are always affected by the presidential contest. This year's Senate contest between Democrat Katie McGinty and Republican incumbent Pat Toomey is no exception.

Wes Leckrone, who teaches political science at Widener University, said he is predicting Trump won't win Pennsylvania.

If that happens, Toomey's only chance at victory is to split the ticket--when a voter picks two different parties on one ballot.

In this scenario, those voters would largely be Republicans voting for both Clinton and Toomey.

But Leckrone said he is skeptical of that strategy.

"Basically the electorate has become much more polarized," he said. "The parties have become much more homogenized. So there's not as many, kind of, moderate Democrats or Republicans who would help pull somebody over to switch their ticket."

Dr. Jack Treadway, another political science professor from Kutztown University, agreed that ticket-splitting has declined in the last decade, and that Toomey likely faces an uphill battle.

However, he's not as convinced that Toomey won't win. Treadway noted that incumbents generally have an advantage in ticket-splitting situations.

Leckrone also added that Toomey's reputation as a relative moderate helps him. But he said at the end of the day, it will be a very tight race.

"I think he'll definitely poll far better than Trump does in the state," Leckrone said. "But whether or not that's enough to be able to actually win the election--it's pretty difficult to overcome say, a 10 to 12 point victory by Hillary Clinton."

Toomey is trailing McGinty by a few points in recent state polls.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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