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Well we're seeing a mix bag of polls today.  Mason-Dixon has Heidi Heitkamp (D) tied with Rick Berg (R) in the North Dakota Senate race and the latest Mason Dixon poll, 47-47:

And Hrm. MassINC's latest poll has Scott Brown ahead of Elizabeth Warren, 48-45 (Note: A week earlier, they had Warren up 49-45, and scarcely two weeks before that, they found Warren leading 47-42.  This poll is questionable).

But the really good news is the Siena College Research Institute poll shows incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D) nine points ahead of his opponent, Tea Party Tom Smith (R), 44-35:

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., holds a 9-point lead over GOP challenger Tom Smith in a new poll released Tuesday morning, though the incumbent falls well short of the 50 percent mark.

Casey has 44 percent of the vote to Smith's 35 percent, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll. Sixteen percent of voters remain undecided a month prior to Election Day.

"Bob Casey has a lead well outside the margin of error over Tom Smith and is ahead in the Philadelphia area as well as in northeastern PA and in the west," said SRI's director Don Levy in a polling memo.

Casey is seen favorably by 40 percent of people, while 34 percent have an unfavorable view of him. Smith has 27 percent favorability to 26 percent unfavorability -- and 47 percent of respondents had no opinion of the businessman, who is a first-time candidate. - National Journal, 10/9/12

The poll was conducted Oct. 1-5, and surveyed 545 likely voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 4.2 percentage points.  It also shows a much tighter race between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, 43-40 with 12% undecided.  This is great news because Quinnipac's poll last month showed the race tightening with Casey only leading by six.  It should be noted though that Casey's opponent, Smith, is a wealthy coal mine owner who has been outspending Casey in ads.  Casey has noticed this and has been hitting Tea Party Tom Smith hard, especially on Smith's tax plan which would of course give Smith and his wealthy buddies more tax breaks:

And on his website:

OCT.08 2012
Smith Embraces Romney-Ryan Tax Plan, Goes Farther With Tea Party-Backed Plan

Philadelphia, PA - Tom Smith would have received a $5 million tax break if his Tea Party tax agenda were in place. Smith's tax plan - backed by national Tea Party groups - will raise taxes on middle class families while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Smith has also embraced the Romney-Ryan policies that would cut taxes for those making over a million dollars a year and raise taxes on middle-class families. But Smith has gone even farther to the right by supporting a flat tax and an elimination of all capital gains, which would provide even more tax cuts for the wealthy.

"While Bob Casey led the fight in the Senate to provide an average tax cut of $1,000 for working families, Tom Smith would give himself a $5 million tax break with his Tea Party tax plan while raising taxes on middle class Pennsylvanians," said Casey Campaign Manager Larry Smar. "Tom Smith's Tea Party flat tax is even more generous to the wealthiest than Mitt Romney's tax plan, prompting news outlets to report that Smith's economic agenda is to the 'right of Mitt Romney.' Tom Smith's flat tax might be the right policy for millionaires like himself and national Tea Party groups, but it is the wrong policy for middle class Pennsylvanians."

Tom Smith has called for a flat tax and the elimination of all capital gains taxes. Mitt Romney and other mainstream Republicans have only called for a reduction in capital gains taxes. In 2010, Smith paid over $5 million in capital gains taxes, but he would have paid zero if his plan were law.


Inquirer: "Tom Smith Would Exempt Investment Income From Federal Taxation". According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Tom Smith wants to "exempt investment income from federal taxation". The effect would be that Tom Smith would have increased his own income since, "he reported $15,783 in capital gains last year and $5.57 million in 2010." [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/5/12]


Tea Party groups, like Freedomworks and the Tea Party Express, support a flat tax and have rallied their members to do the same. The same groups were also early endorsers of Tom Smith and they have backed Smith with hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads and programs to support his Tea Party candidacy.

With these Tea Party groups spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Smith, it's no surprise that Tom Smith embraces their policies like the Tea Party flat tax.

FreedomWorks: "Long Concentrated Our Efforts On Implementing A Flat Tax." FreedomWorks, which endorsed Tom Smith in June 12, "has long concentrated our efforts on implementing a flat tax." [FreedomWorks, 7/6/01]

Dick Armey Wrote A Book On The Flat Tax. Dick Armey, who endorsed Tom Smith in June 2012, has promoted the flat tax for a long time and wrote a book on the subject. [The Intelligencer, 6/3/12]

FreedomWorks Has Spent More Than $200,000 To Support Tom Smith. According to PoliticsPA, "FreedomWorks for America is a super PAC affiliated with FreedomWorks, a conservative, non-profit organization which has done more than almost any other to build the Tea Party movement."  The group, in an effort "to support Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith, a Tea Party super PAC has put $150,000 into voter identification phone calls....Ryan Hecker, the super PAC's Chief Operating Officer, said that the live phone calls are meant to help the group refine its targeting. The calls also serve a dual purpose and can be used later on in the campaign to figure out voters who are the most likely to be Smith supporters as well as the undecided voters who are the most susceptible to be convinced to vote for Smith. The second phase of the IE will come a few days before the election, when the super PAC will call Smith supporters in a get out the vote effort...The group has already spent over $60,000 on other efforts to boost Smith, including campaign literature and online ads." [PoliticsPA, 9/25/12]

Senate Conservatives Fund's Jim DeMint Supports The Flat Tax.  Jim DeMint: "If we want to talk about fairness, we need to look at a simple flat tax rate.  Republicans want to keep the current tax rates the same until we can replace them with a simple flat rate, with a new president and hopefully a new Senate." [CNBC, 7/10/12]

Senate Conservative Fund Has Earmarked More Than $162,000 For Tom Smith.  Jim DeMint's Senate Conservative Fund has made an investment of $162,608 to support Tom Smith. [Senate Conservative Fund]  

Steve Forbes: The "Flat Tax Godfather." Steve Forbes, who endorsed Tom Smith in March 2012, has been called the "flat tax godfather." [ABC News, 12/25/11; PoliticsPA, 3/15/12]

Tea Party Express Supports The Flat Tax. The Tea Party Express, which endorsed Tom Smith in April 2012, said that the first step in the their economic agenda is the passage of "a flat tax, a fair tax or a combination of the two like 9-9-9." [Tea Party Express Press Release]

Americans For Tax Reform Claimed That "Fundamental Tax Reform" Would Be The Institution Of A Flat Tax. Grover Norquist's group Americans for Tax Reform wrote in an article, "[tax loophole] provisions should be eliminated as part of fundamental tax reform, such as a flat tax." Tom Smith signed the group's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." [Americans For Tax Reform 7/1/11; PoliticsPA, 3/26/12]

Casey has received a 100% rating from the website, The Middle Class:

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently released an article showcasing how big of income gap there is between Casey and Smith:

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Smith, who has been buying millions of dollars in TV ads with his own money, reported total income of almost $22 million in 2010, the year he sold his main coal-mining businesses, according to federal tax returns he has released to The Inquirer.

Smith made far less — about $265,000 — last year, his returns indicated. In 2009, while he still operated mines near his home in Western Pennsylvania, he earned about $3.2 million.

Casey, who is paid $174,000 yearly in Senate salary, reported $171,000 in total income last year, deducting pretax expenses for health savings and retirement savings, his campaign said.

Casey had total income of about $173,000 in 2010 and about $176,000 in 2009.

The Inquirer had asked each candidate to make public three years' worth of tax returns.

Smith and his wife, Saundra, a recently retired public-school teacher, paid about $45,000 last year in federal income tax, an effective rate of 16.97 percent.

That was higher than the rate paid by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney (14.1 percent) and less than the rate paid by President Obama (20 percent). Tax fairness has been an issue in national politics this year.

In 2010, Smith and his wife paid $5.95 million in federal income tax and had an effective rate of 27.1 percent.

In 2009, according to their returns, they paid $1.03 million in taxes and had an effective rate of 31.6 percent.

Casey, who paid about $21,000 in federal income tax last year, had an effective tax rate of 12.4 percent.

His rates on relatively comparable income in 2010 in 2009 were 12.6 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively. All of those numbers are lower than Smith's as well as those of the presidential candidates.

Smith, in a recent interview, declined to estimate his total wealth.

"I'm not going to tell you that," he said when asked.

He said he sold his two coal businesses, which produced about 100 tons of bituminous coal per month, at the close of 2010. He said he had owned 52 surface mines and seven deep mines near his home in Shelocta, Armstrong County.

Smith's 2011 tax return showed he still owned a trucking company. His campaign said that incorporated coin-operated car washes and a family farm. The company reported losing money.

He also has a company that manages some investment properties he owns, Jim Conroy, his campaign manager, said Thursday.

Smith claimed about $2,200 in foreign tax credit for 2011. Conroy said that derived from dividends paid by a U.S.-based mutual fund that had investments overseas.

He reported making $2,490 in charitable gifts last year. He made $1,087,355 in such gifts in 2010, and $37,906 in 2009.

Casey, a law school graduate and son of a former governor, has been on the public payroll for the last 16 years — eight as the elected state auditor general, two as the elected state treasurer, and now six as a senator.

He took tax exemptions last year for himself and his wife, Terese, and four daughters. The Caseys also claimed an educational tax credit.

His income included about $1,200 in dividends and $300 in capital gains.

Casey reported $5,001 in gifts to charity last year, including what he valued at $1,824 in clothing, footwear, and household items donated to nonprofit groups in his hometown of Scranton.

In 2010, Casey gave $4,756 to charity, including $1,831 in noncash items. In 2009, he donated $6,729, including $3,446 in noncash items.

In his campaign, Smith is proposing a single flat-rate tax to be paid by all Americans. He has not said what that rate should be.

Smith would exempt investment income from federal taxation. He reported $15,783 in capital gains last year, and $5.57 million in 2010. He reported no capital gains in 2009.

He would also exempt home-mortgage interest, charitable donations, and certain other itemized deductions currently permitted by the tax code.

Casey, like Smith, has said the tax code needs to be made simpler and fairer. He has not proposed specific changes. - Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/5/12

So Casey has been a public servant for 16 years now and has been granted tax exemptions and has made some very generous donations over the past.  So his tax rate isn't as high as you'd expect but Smith who's net worth is estimated between $60 to $70 million and still paid very little in taxes:

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Now you may not agree with all of Casey's votes but he has proven to be a great public servant who has been endorsed by both the AFL-CIO and the League Of Conservation Voters.  His campaign ads highlight his work to keep jobs in Pennsylvania, provide tax breaks for middle-class families and job training initiatives for veterans:

The only real reason anyone knows who Tom Smith is is due to his large ad buy, which has been predominantly negative attacks against Casey and President Obama.  Oh, and he also made headline due to this bat shit remark:

It's great to see the Casey campaign is awake and fighting back hard.  People know that Casey is a true public servant and Pennsylvanian and trust him more in terms of taxes and the middle class over the wealthy tea bagger.  Pennsylvania already has one wealthy tea bagger from Wall Street as it's Senator, Pat Toomey, the last thing it needs is another tea bagger representing the Keystone State.  A vote for Casey is a vote for the middle class:

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Originally posted to pdc on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 11:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania.

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