F&M Poll: PA-Sen: Toomey 41 Sestak 29, Toomey 35 McGinty 28

Pat ToomeyThe 2016 Senate race is wide open, especially in the Democratic primary.

Those are the findings of the new Franklin & Marshall poll.

F&M matched up both Democratic candidates, former Congressman Joe Sestak and ex-DEP Secretary Katie McGinty, against incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.

Toomey leads Sestak 41% to 29% with 31% undecided. That’s an improvement for the Senator since June when he lead Sestak by just four points (35% to 31%).

Meanwhile, Toomey is also ahead of McGinty although by a smaller margin, 35% to 28%. The plurality of respondents, 38%, were not sure who they would support.

Franklin & Marshall were also the first polling firm to survey a Sestak-McGinty primary. They found two-thirds (66%) unsure and that doesn’t include the 5% who said they would choose “another candidate”. Still, for what it’s worth, Sestak prevailed over McGinty 16% to 13%.  

Sen. Toomey’s Job Performance

When it came to the incumbent, 40% said Sen. Toomey was doing an “excellent” or “good job” compared to 43% who said he was doing “only a fair job” or a “poor job”. While those numbers are still underwater, they’re better than his ratings from June.

Broken down by demographic, Senator Toomey received a positive job rating from the following groups: Extremely conservatives (59/29); Republicans (58/29); Northeast Pennsylvanians (52/35); Catholics (49/38); those making more than $75,000 (45/41); slightly conservatives (44/42); 35 to 54 year olds (44/40); those with some college education (44/37); born again Christians (44/38); Southeast Pennsylvanians (44/43); and Protestants (41/39).

Whites were split evenly (42/42) on the Senator.

This Franklin & Marshall Poll surveyed 605 registered Pennsylvania voters and was conducted from August 17th to August 24th. The margin of error is +/- 3.9%.

27 Responses

  1. And you really believe that Hillary Clinton can win with her unfavorable ratings approaching the stratosphere? Or perhaps Joe Biden who had to quit his first run for President after he was revealed to be a plagiarist, and his 2008 bid after being the first to declare and the first to quit after he got less than 1% in the Iowa Caucus?
    Sanders has emerged as a serious contender despite being a virtual unknown only a few months ago. He is viewed favorably by voters who know who he is and every poll shows that the percentage of voters who know who he is and like what they see is rising steadily. That unknown factor is an opportunity, not a disadvantage. Every poll shows his numbers going up and Clinton’s going down. Her support is now in the 40’s in virtually every national poll, and it was in the 70’s only a few months ago. Sanders is in the mid to high 20’s where only 3 months ago it was in single digits. Biden runs a distant third behind Sanders in virtually every poll despite the fact that Biden is far better known than Sanders, and is getting far more media attention.
    So just what is it about these numbers that suggests to you that Hillary is more electable than Sanders? The media and Wall Street and the Democratic machine are scared to death of Sanders, and they want you to be too. It seems to be working, at least on you.
    I am for Bernie, and I will proudly vote for him. Like many other progressives, Hillary will never get my vote if she does get the nomination, and just as you think Sanders cannot win, I am convinced Hillary cannot win. Nor will I celebrate if she does, because it will just be a victory for Wall Street, the war profiteers, and the national security/surveillance state. It will also be yet another signal to the Democrats that they can continue to shove bought and paid for candidates down our throats and we will continue to hold our collective noses and vote for them.
    I used to drink that kool-aid too, but I woke up.

  2. Sanders, who I like and admire, will not see his appeal cross over from the white liberal voting bloc to everyone else. I don’t see how he gets the nomination.

    If he does, I will vote for him and sadly on November 8, 2016 see a GOP candidate be elected POTUS. Right now, I happen to believe that it will be Scott Walker. Scary thought…

  3. You are just spouting unsubstantiated platitudes, but the bottom line is that until the Democrats learn a thing or two about democracy, including non-interference with the selection of candidates, we will forever get bad candidates. I happen to also think that Sanders may be the only candidate who can beat the GOP. Polls suggest his message is resonating with the voters, and that is not the case with any other candidate except Trump who is way to unpopular with the majority of Americans to ever get elected.
    You have been drinking the Democrats’ Kool-Aid Tommy, and that is exactly what they count on.

  4. I respect the right of others to vote as they wish. I, however, do not wish to see any of the GOP candidates become POTUS because I made perfect the enemy of the good.

    Sanders has no shot at winning at the General election against a highly financed GOP campaign, that will successfully paint him as some kind of crazy Communist. As HL Mencken wrote 90 years ago, “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

    The great masses of the plain people will not be able to discern any difference between Sanders’ “Democratic” Socialism and Soviet style Communism.

  5. Just to clarify, we are programmed all our lives that voting for anyone but a Democrat or Republican, or even not voting at all is throwing ones vote away. It is this mindset that allows the major parties to ignore the will of the voters and the integrity of the primary process in order to guarantee that they can corronate whomever they wish and the voters will vote for them like lemmings, even if they dislike the choices. the only way to restore Democracy to this process is to just say no and vote our conscience even if that means writing someone in or voting for an independent.
    Great example in yesterday’s news. Hillary Clinton’s team has announced that they have already locked up more than half of the “super delegates” which, if true, and if they remain committed to her, means she has 20% of the votes she needs without having participated in a single debate or a single primary. The Democrats are also limiting debates to 6, a clear effort to help protect Hillary Clinton. This is not a level playing field. It is a rigged process that we are supposed to play along with rather than “waste our vote.” Similarly, Joe Sestak is being made an example of by the Democratic Leadership for daring to spoil their plans to annoint Arlen Specter in 2010.
    One wastes one’s vote when one aids and abets this subjugation of the democratic process by throwing up one’s hands and voting for the “lesser of two evils.” No Thanks.

  6. Jerry

    Of course I’d support Bernie if he was the dem nominee, but I wouldn’t waste a vote on him if he ran on 3rd party green ticket like Stein. You would throw away your vote.

  7. I guess by chiding me to support Hillary Clinton over the GOP competition if she gets the nomination David is committing to strongly support Bernie Sanders should he become the nominee. Anything else, after all, would be hypocrisy, wouldn’t it?
    I have no similar obligation because I have often stated that I will not support a candidate just because they put a “D” in front of their name, and I will not vote for a bad candidate just because the other one is worse. Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein embody the things I believe in, and I can vote for either of them with a clear conscience even if people like David, who I have no respect for, thinks I am “foolish.” I do not think it foolish to refuse to vote for someone who works against the interests of the very people they pretend to serve. No one is more tied to Wall Street, special interests, and the war profiteers than Hillary Clinton. She will never get my vote no matter how bad the alternative.

  8. Dave
    Not sure who you spoke to at the Progressive Summit or how many you spoke to. But, more to the point, on what issues is Sestak not progressive? I know one–single payer, but then neither is his opponent for single payer. In fact, the Summit folks have always supported the ACA and not ventured into single payer territory. As I said, I see the threads and the progressive BASE supports Sestak. I agree the rank and file voter is not into any of this like we are. But that does not build your case or hurt mine. I wish all Dem candidates were actually liberal, but “progressive” is the best we get at this point, except for Bernie. Definitions of these terms and alignment with specific issues would add clarity, but, suffice it to say, Sestak has built up loyalty and earned respect. The other candidate–not so much. P.S. Maybe we need a PA Liberal Summit?

  9. Observer #2-

    Most of the voters aren’t progressives nor plugged into the private forums. Sestak is not considered a progressive by anyone I’ve spoken to at the PA Progressive Summit for the past few years.

    Sestak got 16% in that poll. He’s not drowning in support.


    It’s hilarious you respond to me, by name, while claiming you aren’t responding to me. But, that’s the kind of logic one expects from a Sestak supporter. Sestak is going to get slaughtered in Philly and Montco and Chester and Allegheny and Westmoreland.

    The fact that you are eager to throw away your vote on Jill Stein, rather than help Hillary over the GOP nominee shows how foolish you are.

  10. I no longer engage Mr. Diano, but I do try to set the record straight when he posts his rants. I don’t know a lot about the Montgomery Democrats, but I do know that the Philadelphia Democratic machine is controlled by the same corrupt politicians who are working to take down Sestak (Brady, Rendell, et al). Of course the Philadelphia machine will endorse McGinty, but that does not mean they will be able to carry the day for her. That machine’s influence with Democratic voters gets weaker all the time. In fact there is huge progressive opposition to the Philadelphia machine and its anti-democratic practices.
    As far as Bernie Sanders, yes I am one of many progressives who supports both Bernie Sanders and Joe Sestak, and I will work for both of them. The suggestion that we can’t do both is utter nonsense. That would suggest that anyone supporting Hillary Clinton won’t have time to also support McGinty. David really posts some stupid stuff, and clearly never thinks it through.
    I wonder if David has noted that every major national poll over the last 4 weeks had Hillary Clinton below 50% for the first time. She was at or near 70% in virtually every poll just a few months ago. Bernie Sanders is now in the low to high-20’s in second place in virtually every national poll, well ahead of Joe Biden, and Bernie is trending dramatically up while Hillary is trending dramatically down. Bernie has gone from single-digits to mid-20’s in just three months. He still has a long way to go to catch Hillery, but don’t think for a minute that the Democratic machine is not worried.
    Did you happen to notice, by the way, that the new Quinnipiac poll out yesterday asked respondents to pick a word that they felt best characterized the leading candidates. The one word that came in comfortably first for Hillary was “liar.” In that poll, by the way, Hillary gets 45% of the vote, her worst showing in any national poll yet. Sorry, but I reject David’s assertion, which he as usual states as fact rather than opinion, that working on behalf of Bernie Sanders “is a waste of time.” Besides, I’ll be voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November if Hillary is the nominee, so until that is decided Bernie is my guy.

  11. Dave
    Don’t forget Cumberland, Berks, Lebanon, Dauphin, York, and about 50 other “T” counties. These far offset Montgomery. Then we have the Lehigh Valley-Scranton region.
    Sestak will do fine in Philadelphia, so these other counties will put Sestak in the “win” column. As Jerry says, progressive threads I have seen show a clear loyalty to Sestak and probably 99% do not like a few party insider’s “chosen” candidate getting into this race. She is viewed as an interloper.

  12. Jerry

    I didn’t say Sestak doesn’t have a following. I said he has no infrastructure. His supporters do not have a coherent plan/organization. The progressives that may support him will be putting (wasting) their energy on Sanders (if he’s still in the race).

    But, by the primary, Sestak will be trailing McGinty in polls and cash (if he’s still in the race).

    Montco has 2.5 as many dems as Lancaster, and Philly has three times as many as Montco. McGinty will beat Sestak by more than the total Lancaster vote

  13. I really find David’s rants both ignorant and amusing.
    I belong to several progressive statewide list serves, and because we assume that what is posted on the listserve will stay on the listserve I am not at liberty to quote from the threads, but one very large and progressive listserve in particular has produced one passionate e-mail after another re-affirming their support for Sestak and in many cases also stating that their county Democratic Committees are supporting Sestak as well. Not one person has switched to McGinty, and several have expressed admiration for her personally while indicating displeasure that she is running. I also do not know a single progressive in Lancaster County who is supporting McGinty. There have also been many posts on PaPolitics by progressives who support Sestak. That alone proves that he indeed has strong progressive support, Mr. Diano’s rants notwithstanding. Most of the negative posts come from a handful of trolls like David who just post the same made-up drivel over and over again.
    They clearly hate Sestak, but when they claim Sestak has no following they are talking through their butts. Notice that they never say this is their opinion. They simply state it as fact which it isn’t. These folks are delusional or worse.

  14. Jerry

    Sestak has no campaign structure on the ground. He has ragtag bunch of junior misfits who don’t have enough self-esteem to get a better job. Sestak burned his bridges last time.

    Do you think Montco is going to endorse him? Philly? Not a chance.

    Most volunteers will be working on Hillary (or Sanders) campaign. McGinty will have plenty of infrastructure support from the party, and be willing to pay for experienced/professional staff to pick up the remaining talent. HDCC and SDCC will hire the usual suspects as well.

  15. So it’s some super-stealth political jujitsu move? “Joe’s the one?” Guess we’ll see if it works. It’s only August after all.

  16. The parts of the poll I hope are true involve the public blaming the budget impasse on the Legislature and not Wolf. Unfortunately I do not trust this poll for reasons I have already explained, and I will not embrace any of it just because some of it reinforces my own beliefs.
    I am re-posting a comment I originally put up in an earlier thread, because most of you seem not to have read it:

    Jerry Policoff says:
    August 27, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I am not at all surprised that Sestak has a relatively low level of recognition among Pennsylvania voters. It is a fact that when candidates are out of the public eye for a period of even a few years the voters, by-and-large, forget what they knew about him/her. Yes Sestak has been campaigning for the Senate for quite a while, but it has been a very targeted campaign aimed at building an activist grass-roots following. That included visiting every County Democratic Committee in the state after the 2010 election to thank them for their efforts. It included who knows how many personal letters to individuals he had interacted with during the campaign. I received one of those, as did many of my friends who supported him, and these were not form letters. They were personalized in a manner that impressed the recipients, in my case thanking me for runnning for the Pa. House as well as supporting his efforts. In subsequent elections he has appeared at campaign fund-raisers for other local candidates when asked.
    His current campaign has focused on almost daily informative e-mails to his supporters and traveling the state by bus and by foot. Such a campaign is not going to result in major headlines or huge outreach, but it will create a campaign structure on the ground that McGinty will have a difficult time matching even if she has a money advantage. Toomey won’t be able to match it either. You can’t buy what Sestak is building. This also drives the machine nuts because it will allow him to run a strong campaign without cowtowing to the Leadership. It doesn’t create huge recognition in early polls, but it will pay off big time later. It will also enable him to do much more with much less money if it comes to that, and I have no doubt the Democratic machine will do all it can to discourage those it is in bed with from contributing to his campaign. That will hopefully change after Sestak crushes McGinty in the primary.

  17. The conclusion of this poll is in line with yesterday’s — Sestak doesn’t have any edge at all over McGinty, which you’d think he would after campaigning for as long as he has. The methodology may be flawed, but it fits the (small) trend in the data to date.

    Objectively it’s hard to see how he could 1) come out of a nomination fight swinging and 2) have enough momentum to defeat a well-funded opponent like Toomey.

  18. Jerry-

    You wrote: “There is much in this survey that I hope is true.”

    Much? Really? You must be a Toomey supporter, or switched to McGinty, to find any good news here.

  19. Once again I have to emphasize that F&M is one of the few pollsters that does not include cell phone users in its sample, and that universe now represents the majority of Pennsylvania households. Not including them amounts to just plain bad methodology, and they are not to be taken seriously.
    On top of that the sample is small and, worse, it is a split sample where half of the 605 people surveyed were asked to about a Toomey v Sestak race and the other half Toomey v McGinty.
    There is much in this survey that I hope is true, but you can’t exclude mort than half the population of the state from being represented in the sample and have any confidence in the result. You also can’t measure the Senate race with a sample of 300.
    Garbage in, garbage out. Once F&M decides to invest in the additional cost required to include a cell phone sample they can expect to be taken seriously. Until then I don’t think anyone with knowledge of statistics and sampling will pay any attention to them. Terry Madonna acknowledged to me years ago that he would prefer to include a cell phone sample, but that he could not afford it. Apparently nothing has changed. If they can’t do it right they should get out of the polling business.

  20. 16-13, after running for six years. What a great showing “Admiral.” Six years of campaigning and wandering around the state like a hobo and you have the support of 16% of Democrats. Keep walking for another 14 years and you may get over 50%.

  21. JD-

    You answered you own question:

    Question: “It’s truly surprising considering how long he’s been running that he doesn’t have more support.”

    Answer: “It seems like the more people get to know Joe Sestak the more they don’t like him.”

    Simply put, Joe’s a fraud. Listening to him, it’s obvious that he’s not genuine in his belief of the issues he discusses. He’s not the slightest bit authentic, and the more he talks, the more that comes through. He’s a robotic actor reading a script.

  22. David Diano, I agree. It seems like the more people get to know Joe Sestak the more they don’t like him.

    It’s truly surprising considering how long he’s been running that he doesn’t have more support.

    I think McGinty has a real shot at the nomination and of beating Toomey. I just don’t think Sestak can beat Toomey in a rematch.

  23. JD-

    “Toomey leads Sestak 41% to 29% with 31% undecided. That’s an improvement for the Senator since June when he lead Sestak by just four points (35% to 31%).”

    So, Sestak has slipped 7 points in a few months. He touted the 4-point gap to claim he was closing in on Toomey. I suspect we will not hear anything from Joe on this poll.

    It’s nothing but bad news for him. The 16% to 13% lead he has over McGinty is meaningless with the 66% undecided, especially since he ran and has been running for this office all this time. 16% support is nothing for him to brag about after his “tour”.

    Mentioning McGinty in his emails to claim he’s beating her would only raise her profile. Not all his email recipients are still supporters of his.

  24. -Toomey beats Sestak by 12 points in this poll.
    -Toomey beats McGinty by only 7 points in this poll.

    I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer who the stronger candidate is going to be, especially considering Sestak has been running non-stop for 6+ years and McGinty has only been in the race for a few weeks now. If PA Dems were smart they would nominate McGinty.

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