Internal poll shows state House candidate Emily Skopov within five points of House Speaker Mike Turzai | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Internal poll shows state House candidate Emily Skopov within five points of House Speaker Mike Turzai

The North Hills district traditionally backs Republicans, but has been trending towards Democrats over the last few years

Internal poll shows state House candidate Emily Skopov within five points of House Speaker Mike Turzai
Emily Skopov (left) and Mike Turzai (right)
Pennsylvania state House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) won his 2016 re-election campaign by more than 30 points, receiving 65 percent of the vote in the 28th state House District in the North Hills.

An internal poll shows his 2018 Democratic opponent could be much closer than that.

A poll from Washington, D.C., polling company GBA Strategies shows challenger Emily Skopov (D-Marshall) within five points of the incumbent Turzai, with Turzai leading 49-44 among likely voters.

Considering of Turzai’s past electoral dominance in this district and the fact that President Donald Trump won here by a margin of 52-43, the Skopov campaign is celebrating these figures.

“This poll shows we can defeat Mike Turzai because voters disagree with his belief that our children have no right to an equal education, and they are sick of his obsession with controlling women’s bodies,” says Skopov in a statement, referencing Turzai’s support of “school-choice” legislation and his anti-abortion stance.

The poll also asked if likely voters generally supported Turzai for re-election. Just 42 percent said they would vote to re-elect Turzai, while 44 percent said they wanted someone new to represent the district.

Skopov agrees with the poll.

“We will win on Election Day because my opponent is too partisan and out of touch with North Hills voters, while I am committed to working with both Republicans and Democrats to solve the many serious problems we face,” says Skopov.

The poll also shows Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) with 51-37 percent lead over challenger Scott Wagner (R-York) among 28th District voters. President Trump’s approval rating among likely 28 district voters is below water, at 39 percent favorable and 54 percent unfavorable.

Jeff Coleman, a political advisor to Turzai, says Turzai’s campaign is familiar with the survey and doesn’t buy its validity.

“It was a push poll employing some pretty creative questioning,” says Coleman. “It wouldn't be accurate to call it scientific.”

Poll numbers aside, the 28th district has shown signs of trending towards Democrats, though Republicans still hold power here. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton received about 3,300 more votes than Democrat Barack Obama did in 2012. (Both Trump and Republican Mitt Romney won the 28th District, but Romney by a significantly higher margin than Trump.) In 2017, Democrat Carolyn Schweiger flipped a Republican-held council seat on McCandless Township council.

Regardless, Coleman says Turzai is not underestimating this race.

“Of course, Speaker Turzai takes every race seriously, and this one is no exception," says Turzai.

The poll surveyed 300 likely voters from Sept. 24-26 via cell phone and land lines. The margin of error was 5.6 percent.

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