Joe Sestak may be walking the length of Pennsylvania, but it’s not helping his name recognition as much as he’d like.
According to a new poll from Franklin & Marshall College, the only declared 2016 Democratic challenger to Sen. Pat Toomey is still unknown to nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Pennsylvania voters.
Most voters (37 percent) are undecided about the Toomey-Sestak matchup, as well. Among those who have decided, Toomey leads Sestak by five points, 34 to 29 percent.
The new survey finds Toomey enjoying a slight increase in favorability — 30 percent of voters have a “strong” or “somewhat” favorable opinion of the senator, compared to the 27 percent who viewed him favorably in the college’s October 2013 poll. Just 23 percent view Toomey unfavorably.
In addition, almost a third (31 percent) of voters think Toomey’s job performance is “excellent” or “good,” including nearly half of Republican respondents.
So many voters are unaware of Sestak that he doesn’t have much of an approval or disapproval rating. Just 15 percent have a “strongly” or “somewhat” favorable opinion of the 2010 Democratic nominee, while 7 percent have a “somewhat” or “strongly” unfavorable opinion. On top of the 63 percent who do not know enough about Sestak, 14 percent of those who do know of him are undecided.
But a number of voters are undecided about Toomey, as well — 18 percent are unsure of their opinion of the Senator, and a sizable minority (29 percent) said they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.
This much voter indecision is not abnormal. It’s still early in the game for Toomey’s re-election race, a contest that’s already been dubbed a “race to watch.” Toomey, though, has cause for concern. A Republican in a largely blue state, the Senator was ranked one of the top three endangered Republicans by Larry Sabato earlier this month.
The Franklin & Marshall survey polled 597 Pennsylvania voters from March 17 to 23. The margin of error is +/- 4.2 percent.