Democrat holds slim lead on eve of PA-18 election, poll finds

Voters divided ahead of Pennsylvania election
Voters divided ahead of Pennsylvania election

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Voters divided ahead of Pennsylvania election 02:31

Washington (CNN)A Democrat seeking to pull off what would be a shocking upset in a special congressional race Tuesday has a slight edge over his Republican opponent, a new Monmouth University poll released Monday shows.

Democrat Conor Lamb tops Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania's 18th District by 51% to 45%, just outside the poll's 5.1-percentage-point margin of sampling error for likely voters. The poll uses the most likely scenario -- a turnout model that assumes performance in Pennsylvania's 18th District will be similar to other recent special elections in which Democratic turnout has generally exceeded that in past elections.
Even if turnout winds up lower, looking more like a historical midterm election, the survey estimates Lamb has 49% support to Saccone's 47%. In any of the turnout models, the poll indicates improvement for Lamb over an earlier poll from Monmouth, which indicated Saccone holding at least a numerical lead in each of the three turnout scenarios presented.
    On Saturday night, President Donald Trump, who won the district's vote by 20 points in 2016, traveled to western Pennsylvania to campaign for Saccone.
    Likely voters -- who were largely polled before the President's campaign event -- said they are divided on Trump's job performance: 49% approve and 49% disapprove. They also are largely unmoved by his announcement of tariffs for foreign steel and aluminum. Although a plurality feel the tariffs will help the area's economy (43% say they'll help while 36% say they'll hurt), almost all, 96%, say the decision hasn't affected their choice in the upcoming special election.
    Saccone has come out in favor of the tariffs, which are largely opposed by Republicans in Washington.
    Likely voters in the district are also evenly split on which party they'd like to see in control of Congress (42% prefer the Democrats, the same share the Republicans) and an equal 44% say they have a favorable impression of each party. Likely voters do have a slightly more positive impression of Lamb (53% favorable) than of Saccone (47% favorable).
    The poll was conducted on landlines and cell phones from March 8 to 11 with 503 registered voters in Pennsylvania's 18th District. Results are based on answers from 372 likely voters, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.