PA-Sen: F&M Poll: Toomey 35 Sestak 31

Toomey-Sestak1It’s still incredibly early and many Pennsylvanians are undecided about who they would vote for in next year’s Senate contest.

That is the major conclusion evident in the Senate section of the latest Franklin & Marshall poll.

Despite the fact that Sen. Pat Toomey and former Congressman Joe Sestak ran against each other in 2010, about a third of voters are undecided when it comes to how they would vote in a rematch.

In said rematch, Toomey holds a 35% to 31% advantage. A massive 34% are not sure who they would support. These numbers are barely different from the last F&M survey in March.

Senator Toomey does fare much better against Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. 34% of respondents support the incumbent while the challenger nets just 23%. The fact that 43% were not sure shows that Pawlowski is mostly undefined in voters minds.

Toomey’s Personal Ratings

When it comes to job approval numbers, Sen. Toomey scores his best marks since F&M started asking Pennsylvanians back in 2011.

Five percent say he is doing an “excellent job”, 29% a “good job”, 33% feel Toomey is doing “only a fair job”, while 14% responded that the incumbent is doing a “poor job”. 20% said they “don’t know”.

When broken down by demographics, Sen. Toomey’s numbers were above water among four groups: Republicans, slightly conservatives, extreme conservatives and protestants.

As for favorability, the Senator scored a 34% rating (11% “strongly favorable” and 23% “somewhat favorable”) while 22% have an unfavorable opinion (7% “strongly unfavorable” and 15% “strongly unfavorable”). Seventeen percent were undecided while twenty-eight percent didn’t know.

This Franklin & Marshall Poll surveyed 556 registered Pennsylvania voters and was conducted from June 8th to June 14th. The margin of error is +/- 4.1%.

19 Responses

  1. David, You just make this stuff up as you go along. All the polls indicated that Specter was very vulnerable because he was viewed with disfavor by both the Democrats and Republicans. I have all those polls archived and will go back and pull them up if I have to, though I have better uses of my time. And please provide a reference for the Democratic Leadership trying to “anoint” Sestak. I sure don’t remember that. Your track record in this thread does not allow me to assign much credibility to the things you say, just because you say them. How about some documentation for a change? I don’t think you are a liar, but you sure have a selective memory, and you have not demonstrated a wit of scholarship as of yet.
    No one should be “anointed.” That is what primaries are for. The voters should decide, not Chuck Schumer.

  2. Jerry-

    They tried to “anoint” Sestak before Specter switched parties, but he turned them down. Then he cried when they picked someone else.

    Specter lead Toomey by big margins in the polls until Sestak’s attacks in the Spring of 2010. With Sestak’s support (or silence), Specter would have crushed Toomey.

    Casey was the only one who was going to knock out Santorum, by cutting into his pro-life base. He had the name recognition from his father and was able to capture the socially conservative Dems in the west. Sestak got crushed in Westmoreland, despite a Dem majority.

    Sestak wasn’t in “lockstep” with the party when he violated his campaign promises and voted with the GOP to give Bush a blank check on Iraq War funding.

    Sestak is a Nixon/Reagan/Bush/McCain loving republican running as a Dem.

  3. Once again – Sestak is actively campaigning against Toomey while the Democratic “leadership” is actively campaigning against Sestak. I say, nominate Sestak and fire the Democratic leadership unless they get over their snit fit from five years ago.

  4. Your response is so rambling that I can’t begin to respond to it in less than 10,000 words, so I won’t bother to try.
    I will say this though. Specter had the rare distinction of being despised by the majority of both Democratic and Republican parties. He only switched parties because he knew he was going to get crushed in the Republican Primary, and virtually every poll suggested that Toomey would crush him in November because the Democratic rank-and-file rejected his “conversion.” Once again the Democratic power-elete decided to make an end run around the primary and install a loser, but a loser they could control, as the anointed candidate. Sestak incurred their ever-lasting wrath by daring to defy their wishes by running against Specter. They did the same thing with Casey, you may recall, by As far as coercing Hoeffel and Hafer do depart the race, thus clearing the way for Casey. The diminishing fortunes of the Democratic Party, which you lament so, and which you seem to want to blame single-handedly on Sestak, is quite real. The Party is imploding because it has moved further and further to the Right and closer and closer to Wall Street billionaires. It has lost touch with its base. Millions of registered Democrats just stay home these days rather than vote for candidates annointed by the Wall Steet owned Party bosses like Chuck Schumer (who is informally known as the Senator from Wall Street). I remain a Democrat only because it is my Party, and I won’t let Schumer, Obama, Brady, et al steal it from me. The Democrats will continue to lose elections until they rediscover their values and their roots, and that is fine with me. The fact that Sestak refuses to march in lock step with these Party bosses is the principle reason I will vote for him, and it is also why he will win.

  5. Jerry Policoff-
    Feingold is relevant because there is a limited amount of money/resources for all the Senate races. Sestak’s race gives the least bang-for-the-buck. 5%-10% of what was wasted on Sestak could have put Feingold over the top. Spending money on Sestak is diminishing returns as he would serve only one term if he won, and force us to raise money for a new candidate to fill an open seat in a non-presidential year with lower Dem turnout.

    Sestak screwed over down-ballot tickets. On Election Day, did Sestak’s team distribute GOTV door-knocker and sample ballots with his name alone, or with the entire ticket? Because, in Delaware county he put out door-knockers with just his own name, while down-ticket candidates had to duplicate effort and visit those same houses with lit containing the entire slate. So, this may explain why he ran “so far ahead” of the other Dems. And, rest assured, when his team was calling swing voters, he was distancing himself from you and the rest of the ticket.

    “big post-election buzz was how close Sestak came to winning” Yeah, Sestak was the source of that buzz. He also repeated lied that he came closer than any other Dem who had lost (as his way of slamming all the other Dems for being lazy). But, there were two or three other races that were closer than his in his rush to imply he got closer because he worked harder.

    Onorato was from the western part of the state. Lancaster is closer for Sestak, and he passed through it more often returning from other parts of the state. So, his number of visits there isn’t really impressive.

    I’ve talked to people from the Specter campaign to ask what went wrong. The simple truth was that they just didn’t take Sestak seriously until it was too late. They were raising money and gearing up to take on Toomey. Sestak ran to the Left to beat Specter, but didn’t know how to capture the middle (which Specter owned). Thus, Sestak conceded the middle to Toomey, despite Toomey’s conservatism.

    You wrote: “No one wants to challenge him for the nomination because no one believes they can beat him.”

    The “machine” can’t “derail” him because they can’t find a top-tier candidate who wants to fight a bloody primary with Sestak and have no money left to fight Toomey if they win. Sestak would rather go down with the ship (and take the Dem party with him) rather than allow another Dem candidate to beat Toomey. If Sestak wins the primary, and loses due to lack of funds, he’ll just blame the party and the Washington machine again.

  6. Sestak worked hard for down-ballot candidates, including for me even though we had some serious disagreements on issues. He refused to coordinate his campaign with the Democratic machine because he did not trust them, and for good reason. He worked instead with the county committees that wanted to work with him, and also worked directly with candidates, including fundraising events. He must have visited Lancaster more than a dozen times compared with zero visits by Onorato. He invited me to march side-by-side with him in a parade here, but it was a Jewish holiday so I had to decline. After the election he visited every county committee in the state to thank them for their help. That is why he has such a huge following among the grass roots, and it is also why the machine is powerless to derail him.
    You are simply wrong when you claim Sestak is running behind where he ran in 2010. in June of 2009, which is the equivalent June 2015 in terms of distance from the general election, Sestak was trailing Specter by roughly 20 points in all the polls. He ended up handily beating Specter in the primary and coming very close to beating Toomey in what I have already pointed was a disastrous election for almost every Democrat. At the time the big post-election buzz was how close Sestak came to winning in a year when most Democrats took a big beating. You can claim Sestak is unpopular with voters all you want, but the evidence suggests the opposite. No one wants to challenge him for the nomination because no one believes they can beat him.
    I did not live here in 2000, but I hear Klink was both an unknown and a complete dud as a candidate. That is why he lost. I know and like and voted for Hoeffel, but he really has never projected himself well as a candidate. That is why Hoeffel lost. Casey is also a weak candidate, by the way, and he has benefited from having no serious competition when he ran. A salami sandwich could have beaten Santorum in 2006, and that guy Smith was another unknown, weak, and under-funded candidate. We got an almost-Republican anyway in Casey. Toomey is his best buddy and they regularly co-sponsor legislation. I have twice cast write-ins rather than vote for Casey and will likely continue to do so.

  7. “In that district Sestak ran way ahead of all the other Democrats.”

    I believe he’s only lamented it once – maybe twice – since 2010, but a frequent commenter on here has criticized Sestak for failing to coordinate campaign efforts with down ballot Democrats. I would have to look it up.

  8. The fact that 2016 is a presidential year means absolutely nothing when it comes to an incumbent US Senator seeking reelection in PA. Pennsylvania Dems must wake up and realize that at the end of the day having good candidates does actually matter, and unfortunately, Sestak is just a repeat of Ron Klink in 2000 and Joe Hoeffel in 2004.

    2000 – Al Gore Wins PA and Rick Santorum wins reelection:
    RICK SANTORUM (R) 52%
    RON KLINK (D) 45%

    (Take note of Santorum’s reelection in 2000; his margin actually increased in a presidential election after winning his first term in 1994, a strong year non-presidential year for the Republicans; similar to Toomey’s win in 2010. Could Toomey actually increase his winning margin in a presidential year? History tends to repeat itself.)

    2004- John Kerry Wins PA and Arlen Specter wins reelection:
    ARLEN SPECTER (R) 52%
    JOE HOEFFEL (D) 42%

    2016 – Hillary Wins PA and Pat Toomey wins reelection:
    PAT TOOMEY (R) 53%
    JOE SESTAK (D) 47%

    This has started to be pointed out by national pundits such as Larry Sabato and previous PoliticsPA articles.

    If Rick Santorum was able to win reelection in a presidential year and increase his margins, it’s even more likely that Pat Toomey can and probably will win reelection in 2016, especially considering Toomey’s favorables vs. Santorums.

    So far, 2016, does not have the makings of a “wave election,” like in 1994, 2006 or 2010, which is good for Toomey. If the political environment stays much of the way it is now, I think it benefits incumbency and thus benefits Toomey. I don’t think Hillary takes PA by as much as Obama did in 2008. I think it will be more in line with 2012’s results.

    The real loser continues to be Joe Sestak. He has essentially been running for the job for over 6 years now and he continues to be polling badly against Toomey. In fact, he’s polling worse than he did in 2010.

    At the end of the day, Toomey comes off as more professional, likable and principled. Simply put Pennsylvanians view Toomey as more senatorial.

    As another reader put it “Sestak comes off as a complete phony… is weird… I don’t trust him.”

    I’m not sure how many of you remember the “Democrats for Toomey” tv commercials that ran in the 2010 campaign, but my guess is that more Democrats will once again cast their vote for Toomey if Democrats cannot find a better candidate than Ron Klink, oops, I mean Joe Hoeffel, oops, I mean Joe Sestak.

    Joe Sestak is simply a flawed candidate.

    Ticket-splitting has INCREASED in recent years… 2014 for example!

    You may try to convince yourself that Sestak is not a flawed candidate all you’d like, but don’t distort the facts. You are to Sestak, what the PA GOP was to Corbett in 2014. In complete denial about what is to come. The PA GOP actually believed Corbett could win reelection in 2014, and you actually believe Sestak can will in 2016. Good luck with that.

    That fact is the national political climate does have some impact on this race, however this is far from a 2006 or wave election scenario. Without a wave election, that clearly benefits incumbents.

    Pennsylvanians are not, at this point, in the mood to defeat their incumbent US Senator, and they definitely don’t want to replace Toomey with a hack like Sestak.

    HIllary will not have the same turnout that Obama had in 2008. Toomey can easily survive 2016, just like Specter in 2004 and Santorum in 2000.
    The only way this changes, in my opinion, is if a wave election somehow develops for the Democrats, which would be unheard-of when a Democratic incumbent is leaving the white house.

    Toomey hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s played it safe. Shapiro was smart to take a pass on this race. Pennsylvanian’s don’t vote out incumbents when their isn’t a smoking gun or wave election. It’s just a fact.

    If Democrats want to take this seat they will need to recruit a strong, likable candidate such as Katie McGinty who ran an incredibly positive race last year.

  9. I should add something here. In 2010 I ran for the Pa. House as a Democrat in Pa 41. In that district Sestak ran way ahead of all the other Democrats. I lack the time to pull the actual numbers, but I suspect he ran way ahead of the Democratic pack in every district across the state. It is pretty obvious that Sestak would have won that race handily in any other year. Onorato, the only other statewide Democratic candidate got some 400 fewer votes than I did in Pa 41. I seem to recall Sestak getting about 800 more votes than I did in Pa 41.
    Regarding the Russ Feingold comment, yes, I would love to see him returned to the Senate, and I relate more to Feingold’s politics than to Sestak’s, but how is that relevant? And as for the McGinty/Clinton comment, I am a progressive Democrat, and if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination I will be writing in Bernie Sanders. I will vote for Sestak not because I agree with him on every issue (I do not), but because he is not beholden to the Party Leadership, and because I think he has the best chance of winning.

  10. First of all, that PPP poll is now more than a year old, and 59% of those polled did not know who McGinty was. Get real. That poll is meaningless now.
    Now let’s see if I can unravel the rest of your logic You say Sestak is the Joe Hoeffel of 2016. In 2004 Santorum beat Hoeffel 53% to 42%. In 2010 Sestak beat Specter in the primary by 54% to 46%. Those numbers would suggest that Sestak is far more formidable a candidate than Hoeffel. Let’s jump ahead to the 2010 General Election where you say the votere “rejected” Sestak. Remember also that Hoeffel ran for Governor in 2010. Unlike Sestak, who won his primary, Hoeffel lost his. You may recall the GOP did rather well that year. Onorato lost the Governor’s race by 8 points. The GOP gained 5 seats in Congress and won both the State Senate and House. Sestak ran way ahead of the Democratic Party, losing to Toomey by only 2 points.
    You have an odd way of measuring “rejection.”
    I see a lot of comments on this site suggesting that Sestak is a weak candidate who cannot win. Sorry but the numbers suggest the opposite. I guess that’s why his detractors use empty rhetoric instead of evidence.

  11. Jerry-

    How much more money should be p*ssed away on Sestak, on top of the $20 million he’s already cost us?

    What is the value of this race, compared with getting someone like Feingold back in office?

  12. Sestak will lose a rematch with Toomey. Period. Sestak is the Ron Klink and Joe Hoeffel of 2016. Klink lost his Senate bid to Republican incumbent Rick Santorum in a presidential election year, 2000, and Joe Hoeffel lost his Senate bid to Republican incumbent Arlen Specter in a presidential year, 2004. This is not a shoe-in election for any Democrat, but certainly not for a Democrat that our state already rejected in 2010. Sestak has divided the party and continues to lag far behind in fundraising. We need an exciting, history making candidate to give Pennsylvanian’s a reason to vote down ballot. Katie McGinty is a likable candidate, unlike Sestak. Hillary Clinton and Katie McGinty make a strong and winning ticket in all areas of Pennsylvania!!

  13. Would that be the same Katy McGinty who finished fourth in a field of four when she ran for Governor last year and managed only 8% of the votes in the Primary?
    Formidable numbers indeed. I am sure Toomey is trembling at the prospect of facing her.

  14. Let’s recruit Katie McGinty for US Senate in 2016! She’s our best chance to defeat Toomey!!

    McGINTY 2016!!

    RUN KATIE RUN!!

  15. It is true that it is way too early to predict election outcomes from polls, but consider this. In June 2009 when Sestak challenged Specter for the Senate nomination the F&M poll had Specter ahead of Sestak by a margin of 33% to 13%. Of course Sestak went on to win that primary easily, and he seems to be in a much better position now than he was then.
    It should be pointed out that F&M for some reason, probably cost, apparently still does not include cell phones in its surveys (if they do they don’t say so). This may not be as critical a shortcoming as it once was now that 91% of U.S. households have cell phones (according to Pew), but it is just not acceptable to exclude cell phone households from a sample and assume it makes no difference. In the past there were major differences in the composition of cell phone households, especially those that did not have landlines. They were more likely to be lower income and members of minorities, and also more likely to vote Democratic. In other words Sestak might fare even better in this poll if cell phone users were included in the sample. In any case he has to be heartened to be running only 4 points behind the incumbent this early, and his numbers are trending slightly up since the last F&M poll in March. This would suggest that he will pick up steam as the election gets closer, which has been his pattern in the past.
    Hopefully the Democratic Leadership will soon realize that Sestak represents the best chance for unseating Toomey and will start supporting him instead of lobbing hand grenades at him.

  16. If you’re a Democrat, you don’t vote for Toomey, plain and simple. The worst Democrat is still an improvement over that hypocritical coward. Hell, my dog Fido is an improvement over Toomey.

  17. If Dems (once again) nominate Sestak. I will (once again) cross party lines and vote for Toomey!

    Joe Sestak comes off as a complete phony. Simply put, he’s weird and I don’t trust him.

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