Unlike most of his Republican colleagues, Rep. Charlie Dent emerged from the chaos of the 16-day federal government shutdown mostly unscathed.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling took a snapshot of 25 Republican House incumbents across the country to see how the government shutdown may have hurt GOP re-election chances. In most cases, the Republican in question trailed an unnamed Democratic challenger.
But voters in the 15th district chose Dent over a Democrat by 13 points. When the survey taker was told Dent "supported the government shutdown" his lead eroded to five points. [Poll results here.]
Dent, who voted against his party at the last minute to try and avoid a shutdown, fares significantly better than the other poll tested Pennsylvania Republican.
Rep. Joe Pitts, whose much more conservative district includes almost all of rural Lancaster County, trails a generic Democrat by 4 points and then by 6 points when the voter is told Pitts supported the shutdown. [Poll results here.]
The poll was paid for by the liberal group MoveOn.org, but it's findings mirror what independent polls are showing nationwide. On Tuesday, the Washington Post/ABC News released a poll that found just 21 percent approve of congressional Republicans handling of budget issues and 53 percent blame them for the shutdown. Democrats don't get away scot-free, but the Republican image is more tarnished.
While Republicans looking to hold the House majority in the 2014 midterm elections are crossing their fingers that voters have short term memories, Dent may be hoping they don't.
As the PPP poll references in its questions, Dent voted twice for funding bills to defund or delay the health care law. But he gave up that fight in the hours before the shutdown, refusing to vote for any more budget bills with Obamacare conditions because it would assure a shutdown.
His last ditch turnaround earned him national media attention, holding him up as one of the few Republicans to stand up to the tea party faction that pressed for only funding the government if Obamacare was weakened.
And that may account for Dent polling stronger than most other Republicans.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun