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Harper Poll: PA-Sen: Democrats Closing the Gap on Toomey

Joe-Sestak-headshotWith just under 7 weeks until PA’s April 26th primaries, the three Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate are beginning to make headway in their race to face incumbent Pat Toomey in November.

Though Sen. Toomey is still leading all three candidates, Democrats have eaten away at the gap over the last 6 months, according to the latest Harper Poll.

Former U.S. Congressman (and Toomey’s 2010 opponent) Joe Sestak does the best against Toomey – losing 47% to 41%. Toomey’s numbers have not changed since a September Harper Poll, while Sestak has picked up 4 points.

Katie McGinty is having trouble with name-recognition, with 40% unsure of how they feel about her. It’s not all bad news, however, as she has made “substantial” gains with her image in Philadelphia and the Southeast region and has narrowed the race by 6 points since September.

John Fetterman is also playing the name game with 57% of those polled unsure of who the Braddock Mayor is. That said, Fetterman still does well in his match-up with Toomey, losing 36% to 47%, with 16% of voters undecided.

Toomey is the only candidate for Senate with a positive favorability rating (49% – 40%), while 33% are still unsure of Joe Sestak – though he served two terms in Congress and has been campaigning for the seat since he lost it to Toomey in 2010.

Joe Sestak again comes out on top in a Harper Poll of likely Democratic voters, taking 33% to McGinty’s 17% – down from 28% in January – and Fetterman’s 15%. 32% of voters are still undecided, the poll shows.

Harper Polling surveyed 662 likely voters through landline interviews conducted using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The poll took place between on March 1st and 2nd. The margin of error is +/- 3.75%.

31 Responses

  1. Fetterman is way sexier than McGinty. Unfortunately, that’s not a qualification for the U.S. Senate.

  2. Revolving Door, usually you just borrow Toomey talking points. Now you are borrowing ones from Trump. You are the king of the losers; the prototypical Sestak supporter.

  3. Katie McGinty not a lightweight at all. She is smart, experienced, sexy, intelligent, politically savvy, has great ideas for helping the citizens, and she will send Toomey back into his prehistoric, anti-woman, anti-veteran rathole that he calls home.

  4. bobguzzardi, you need stop hating women. Both Hillary and Katie are women, and both are qualified and will best able to win in November.

  5. Delco Observer-

    Joe is well known, but his “views” are not so well documented and mostly revisionist history.

    For example: Sestak NOW claims to support gay marriage and that when he was in the Navy he never understood why a sailor couldn’t go home and marry the person he loved.

    However, in Jan/Feb 2006, when Sestak opened his first Campaign HQ, I asked him if he would support a constitutional amendment protected gay marriage. His answer was unequivocal “No. Marriage is between a man and a women.”

    At the same time, he said we could/should be out of Iraq within a year. A year later, once he was elected, he started saying stuff like: Well, you can’t pull out right away. It takes a few years to pack up and store the equipment in neighbor country, etc.

    Basically, Joe never was for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And, when given the chance to vote on Bush’s Iraq War funding in May 2007, he did it without hesitation.

    “Joe Sestak has spent the better part of 7 years campaigning for this job”
    Yes, that’s true. Sestak’s ego and desire to have a title next to his name has no bounds.

  6. If you are a weak candidate all the money in the world won’t help. Just look at Jeb Bush.

  7. Polls have been shown to be very unreliable predictors in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.

    I expect that Pennsylvania’s 71 Republican delegates will be in play. I expect that Donald Trump will be campaigning and I would expect that Democrats who cannot conceive of voting for any Republican, even a Republican as undoctrinaire and independent as Donald Trump, would vote for Bernie Sanders. I would not be surprised by a Sanders win in Pennsylvania.

    Of course, I do expect that Hillary Clinton will have discontinued her campaign well before April 26th.

  8. Yeah Montco, that 7% McGinty took in the gov primary shows her to be a force to be reckoned with.

    The fact that her support is actually DROPPING in the last two polls shows that people don’t like her.

    The fact that Ed Rendel has publicly stated that McGinty can’t with without millions and millions of $$$ of outside money shows she’s an incredibly weak candidate.

    She’s a complete fabrication of Ed Rendell and the party.

  9. Harper is a GOP poll. Toomey would much rather face Sestak than McGinty. Hence, these results.

  10. Delco, I agree with a lot of what you’ve said but Seatak really doesn’t live in PA. I’m of the opinion that wherever your family lives, that’s home, and for Sestak, that is Virginia. Sestak’s PA home will be up for sale the day after he loses.

    Sestak is constantly referencing his daughter in his stump speeches. If I had gone through something so terrible as cancer with one of my children, I would be spending every single moment I could with them.

    Sestak could very comfortably retire. For him to spend these last few years away from his family and child shows a strange Capt Ahab obsession with winning a Senate seat. I don’t want that kind of person representing me.

  11. Why are we wasting time, effort and money on this primary? If Democratic Party establishment wants to make itself relevant, coalesce around Sestak and get ready for the Battle Royale with Toomey in November.

    It is fairly clear that McGinty is a weak Primary and General Election candidate. Her views on issues are almost indecipherable and she is largely unknown. She has served in bureaucratic positions, without distinction. Her most recent run as the Governors Chief of Staff was, by all unbiased accounts, not spectacular. Her record to date provides no indication she would be any better as a Senator.

    Joe Sestak is well known, his views are well documented. His experience in government, a leader of military personnel, work history in national defense, intelligence and foreign policy are unrivaled. He represented my County in Congress and by all accounts was a responsive public servant and more than competent legislator.

    Joe Sestak has spent the better part of 7 years campaigning for this job, with no support or encouragement from the Democratic Party Establishment of Rendell/Reid/Schumer. He has shown to be a formidable fund-raiser in his own right (without the need for the Rendell/Reid/Schumer money machine. McGinty is a creation of. Rendell/Reid/Schumer group. She has no comparative depth of experience when stacked up against Sestak. McGinty is wholly dependent on the Party Establishment “Leaders” and will be beholden to them. Sestak is relying on the grass roots and is beholden to the people.

    It is time to stop playing and move on … Say no to the power brokers in DC and Ed Rendell…Joe Sestak is the only choice for Senate.

  12. Even though I support Sestak, and this “poll” obviously looks good for Joe, I reject it. This is yet another pollster who continues to poll only landlines when the evidence is now overwhelming that you can no longer do political polling without including a cell phone universe. If you can’t afford to do it right, get out of the polling business. The cell phone universe is simply too big to ignore given that cell phone users differ dramatically from land line users.
    This poll probably bodes well for the Democrats because cell phone users are more likely to be Democrats than landline users, so this poll should err in favor of Republicans.

  13. Yes, McGinty may finish 3rd. She deserves to be last. That’s her history.

  14. Sestak already had his chance to beat Toomey and he blew it. Now time to give Katie a chance. She much smarter than Sestak and more experience in Washington and in Harrisburg. Also she gets along with people better than Sestak does.

  15. Looks like the dems on this board are fairly uptight-same old line. Calm down- its’ a lock. Toomey is not a bum Chris–he’s just a hypocrite that voters on both sides of the aisle will reject. Sestak will win- McGinty numbers dropping not a surprise the more voters see about her and hear about her -the more she demonstrates she is a lightweight. It’s not her gender that is an issue as some suggest- it’s her tie in with special interests- and her revolving door for personal gain. Nothing she has done is unlawful but its the same old politics that most voters are fed up with. Having said all that any Democrat will win the Senate this year-
    with Queen Hilary at the top of the ticket does any one see a Trump/Cruz & Toomey ticket winning PA???if so, please let me know what you had for lunch -we all need some.

  16. Pat Toomey is a bum. Always votes the opposite the way the other five Democratic senators in tri-state area vote. He vote against women’s health, reproductive rights, veterans, a new Supreme Court judge.

  17. The biggest surprise of the poll not mentioned here is in the “who would you vote for” question that shows McGinty support dropping from 28% in January down to 17% in March! Sestak is unchanged at 33% and Fetterman is up 4 to 15%.

    That’s amazing for McGinty to lose those kinds of numbers.

    The fact that this is a landline only poll, which would skew Fetterman’s numbers lower than what they actually are, would suggest Fetterman is beating McGinty at this point and closing on Virginia Joe.

  18. Contrary to the conventional wisdom often peddled at, Katie would be well-served to get Wolf and Rendell out front for her in ads and appearances. In a closed primary, those two still are important and listened-to voices for most state Dems.

  19. McGinty’s revolving door to $$$-

    Despite how bad fracking is, it’s very popular among some who believe they are profiting from it with jobs and kickbacks/revenue to their counties. Not everyone is convinced McGinty is a bad environmentalist due to her association with Al Gore.

    But, the issue is a wash against Toomey, who can’t challenge her on fossil fuels due to his own ties.

  20. Pat Toomey hates women and been disaster for the state. Katie is best candidate to kick his butt in November especially with Hillary at top of ticket

  21. Wait till the public learns more about McGinty’s revolving door to $$$. The dirty coal plant–fast tracked. Denying she takes fracking money on video for all to see. The list goes on……..

  22. Abington D-

    538 went 50 for 50 in 2012 predicting electoral outcomes and has been very good this primary season overall. They rely on the polls they have available. They don’t conduct polls themselves.

    As it was, Bernie just squeaked by Hillary. It wasn’t a landslide, like she had in Mississippi where she won 82.6 to 16.5

    Hillary netted another 17 delegates over Bernie last night, and is around 200 delegates ahead (not counting the super delegates). The next 5 races on March 15th will probably be 5 wins for her, or 4 out of 5 at worst.

  23. 538? The guys who predicted Hillary Clinton had a 99% chance of winning Michigan? Talk about a go-to authority on polling.

    Sestak has been working the state hard for over 6 years. McGinty is too vapid, and Fetterman started too late. This is McGinty’s last chance, but I could see Fetterman in Congress soon.

  24. BTW, I just got a fundraising email from Sestak touting the poll and begging for money:

    “we have gotten where we are by running this race on the ground, by talking to people all across the state, face to face, about the issues that matter most. But as I’ve recently explained, we also know my opponent has D.C. Super PACs going on TV soon, and we will need to respond with our own ads.”

    But, Joe has his own D.C. super-PAC

  25. Harper gets a C+ accuracy for polling from FiveThirtyEight. Don’t know if that’s worth writing a story over.

  26. O – she can win the people that don’t have land-lines. Young people, for instance.

  27. A landline poll is kind of worthless in a presidential year, isn’t it? Still, this snapshot shows that all of these candidates need to work on name recognition and distinguishing themselves from one another. Personal characteristics aside, I dont really see much daylight between Sestak and McGinty on policy.

    As for Big Mayor John, he might surprise everyone if the Bernie train keeps a’chuggin’ through PA. Even a loss by Sanders could mean a win for Fetterman if he tracks Bernie’s performance. In a three way race, 40%+ will usually trump the field (groan-inducing pun intended).

  28. Way to bury the lede. As worthless as this poll is, it shows that Katie needs to get out. She has spent more than any other candidate, and like Marco Rubio, has lower numbers to show for it. If she can’t win landline voters – who CAN she win??

  29. If McGinty can produce good ads and flood the airwaves, she can fix her name recognition.

    Supposedly Sestak now has a super-PAC out of D.C. getting ready to put out some ads for him. I thought Joe was against super-PACs and D.C. outsiders?

    Of course, Joe said he was against the Iraq War, and voted to fund it without conditions.

    And, Joe himself is an “outsider” (not really an anti-establishment outsider). Joe’s an outsider from Virginia pretending to be a Pennsylvania resident.

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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