Another poll was released Friday showing Bob Casey handily leading incumbent Rick Santorum in the race for U.S. Senate.

No surprise. The polls say Casey has been ahead for months.

But in a 29-county region that includes Cambria and Somerset, Casey’s lead trickles away to 2 percentage points, 41-39 percent – and within the 3.7 percent margin of error for the survey sample.

The nonpartisan Triad/Susquehanna Poll also showed Democrats holding or extending their statewide leads in the races for senator and governor.

In the Senate contest, the poll – conducted Oct. 1-6 – showed Democrat Casey increasing his lead over incumbent Republican Santorum to 54-34 statewide.

And voters in the region are not taking so kindly to Republican Lynn Swann, challenging Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell for governor.

Swann leads Rendell only in the suburban Pittsburgh counties in southwest Pennsylvania, 42-39, but trails in even the Republican counties of the “T” region – which includes Cambria and Somerset – by 45-40.

Somerset holds a voter registration edge for the GOP; in Cambria, Democrats outnumber Republicans.

Statewide, Rendell was at 56 percent, compared with 32 percent for Swann.

“What is significant to me as someone who conducted dozens of polls every year is the percent of people who already have made up their minds with a month to go before the election,” said James Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling and Research.

“In the Senate race, it will be difficult for Santorum to recapture the lead because in this type of anti-incumbent environment most of the undecided voters will go to the challenger.

“In the race for governor, with Rendell over 50 percent, even if all the undecided voters break for the challenger Swann still comes up short.”

And three out of five likely voters surveyed in the new poll say an incumbent legislator’s vote for the recently repealed state pay raise will not be the determining factor when they go to the polls on Nov. 7.

The survey, released today by Triad Strategies LLC, and Susquehanna Polling and Research, asked 700 voters statewide how they viewed the state pay raise as a decision factor in the Nov. 7 election.

A significant majority – 59 percent – said they “plan to consider my senator or representative’s position on other issues before making my final decision.”

Anti-pay raise attitudes were evident most strongly among senior citizens. A total of 31 percent of those 60 years old and over said they would vote against pay raise supporters.

On issues, voters are most concerned about taxes.

Overall, 32 percent of all surveyed said taxes are the “single most important problem facing Pennsylvania today ... that you would like to see resolved by your elected officials.” Concerns about the economy, jobs and unemployment ranked a distant second at 14 percent.

Concerns about politicians and ethics in government was third, 9 percent.

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