While the president looms large over this election, drawing out both opponents and supporters, local issues like school funding or mining are in the forefront of some races. In others, Republican incumbents’ blend of personality and policy positions has won over independents and moderates.
In recent months, The New York Times interviewed dozens of voters in battleground House districts, and spoke at length with three of them about the nuances of the races in their areas, how politics affected their lives, and their views and concerns about the midterms. These voters have a history of crossing party lines in their districts — one in Pennsylvania, one in Minnesota and one in California — and discussed what would ultimately persuade them to vote Democrat or Republican.
Ms. Donnelly in Bucks County, for instance, noted Mr. Fitzgerald’s independent streak. “I have had personal interactions where I’ve told him he’s dead wrong,” she said, “and he’s been very respectful.”
His reputation as a moderate and his constituent record have helped Mr. Fitzpatrick pick up endorsements from the State Education Association, the local police and firefighters union and the state’s AFL-CIO. “If you’re for us, we’re for you,” said Rick Bloomingdale, the organization’s president.
Poll results have been mixed. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll showed Scott Wallace, the Democratic challenger, leading. A recent survey by the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, put Mr. Fitzpatrick in front by 4 percentage points among likely voters.
“When you look at the underlying political environment in this district, you would expect the Democrat to be ahead,” Patrick Murray, the institute’s director, said. “But Fitzpatrick has been able to overcome this with a solid reputation among his constituents.”
Ms. Donnelly said she is willing to give Mr. Fitzpatrick the benefit of the doubt because “he has earned my trust.”