The House of Murtha

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Last week I noted that anti-war Democrat John Murtha was breezing past a pro-war challenger – and that this bespoke a nice trend in areas that had supported the Iraq war and voted for George W. Bush (Murtha's district narrowly, 51-49, voted for Kerry, making it a target). Soon thereafter I started getting e-mails about an internal poll from the pro-war Republican's campaign, which showed her a mere 10 points behind Murtha. The Powerline dudes summed up the findings:

Pennsylvania has never been a hotbed of anti-Americanism and defeatism. Go here to donate to candidate Diana Irey. Who knows, she just might win!

Today there's an independent poll commissioned by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – a paper owned by the Scaife family and expected to endorse Irey. It finds that Murtha's anti-war stance is actually leading him to a crushing win.

Murtha leads Irey 57 percent to 30 percent, according to the survey of 400 voters. Eleven percent of those polled were undecided, 1 percent said they will not vote and 1 percent did not respond when asked for whom they would vote.

In a race defined by the war in Iraq, the results indicate voters agree with Murtha, who has called for withdrawal of troops, rather than Irey, who insists America should stay the course… Thirty percent of respondents identified the war as the most important problem facing the country today, while 11 percent listed the economy, jobs and unemployment as more important.

Fifty-six percent of those questioned said America is less safe today because of the war in Iraq, compared to 27 percent who feel the country is safer. Ten percent indicated the country's level of safety has not changed, while 6 percent said they are undecided and 1 percent declined to answer the question.

There's very, very, very little that should endear libertarians to a New Deal liberal like Murtha. But if support for the war has melted down in areas like southwest Pennsylvania, it's melted down everywhere. And it's nice to see a campaign running on a 2002-style "He doesn't want to stay in Iraq! He hates the troops!" platform, and hitting the reef.