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PA-Sen: Harper Poll: McGinty 39% Sestak 33% Fetterman 15%

Pennsylvania Governor DemocratsKatie McGinty leads her first poll in the Senate Democratic primary.

According to the latest Harper Poll, McGinty has surged ahead of Joe Sestak.

McGinty now leads with 39% while Sestak is at 33%. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman increased his total to 15% and even Joe Vodvarka got 3%. Just 11% of respondents are still undecided.

What caused the shift to McGinty?

Since Harper’s April 5th poll, the black vote has gone from 46/24 in Sestak’s favor to 52/28 in McGinty’s favor. Additionally, Sestak once led in the Philly/Southeast and Scranton/Lehigh Valley areas 50/24 and 51/31 respectively. Now, McGinty is ahead 43/40 and 45/32.

The fact that McGinty is doing better in the Acela corridor in the eastern half of the state is likely due to the endorsements (and frequent advertisement) of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

The election is set for tomorrow.

Harper Polling surveyed 641 likely Democratic primary voters through cellphone interviews with live operators and landline interviews conducted using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The poll took place between on April 21st and April 23rd. The margin of error is +/- 3.9%.

47 Responses

  1. I’m impressed, I have to say. Actually rarely do I encounter a weblog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve gotten hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is one thing that not sufficient individuals are talking intelligently about. I’m very comfortable that I stumbled across this in my search for something referring to this.

  2. I guess everyone who said this was a bad poll was right. It did not recognize just how badly the Admiral will get smoked.

  3. Rick-

    There is a lot of cognitive dissonance from his supporters. Sestak’s followers are more of a cult, so rational thought should not be expected. Maybe they’ll set up a tent camp outside his home in Virginia after he loses to bask in his fading glory.

  4. David Diano- I have posted more than once asking Sestak supporters to explain their support despite his treatment of staff and have never once received an answer. This question is always ignored. They’re quick to point out hypocrisy in McGinty’s ties to the energy industry and how easy it will be for Toomey to hit her on that, but ignore that all Toomey will have to do to Joe is pull out his FEC reports, among plenty of other things.

  5. Paul Scoles-

    The Wikipedia article you refer to has been “sanitized” over the years. The Navy Times first reported the celebrations surrounding the long-overdue sacking of Sestak. I’ve run into plenty of ex-navy people over the years who have confirmed Sestak’s behavior and reputation as a tyrant.

    Vern Clark continued his protection of Sestak. This isn’t a shock, since he was the reason Sestak had gotten so out of hand that Admiral Mullen sacked Sestak on his first day in charge. So, Vern is hardly the most reliable witness for the defense, because he can’t admit his own complicity in Sestak’s misbehavior.

    Sestak was relieved of duty and reassigned due to “a poor command climate”. The Navy Times has stood by its reporting (which the Sestak supporters leave out). This was considered “career-ending”. I never used the word “fired”. I think the official term was “administratively reassigned”.

    You can ignore the tons of evidence of Sestak’s continued mistreatment of campaign and congressional staff. Ignore his refusal to pay them decent wages (and proper payroll/employment taxes). Ignore his mistreatment of women. Ignore his pro-war voting record. Ignore his “Party of Joe” attitude against the Delco Dems and Democratic party in general. Ignore his real home in Virginia. Ignore how he refused help in 2010 against Toomey and sunk his own ship out of ego and spite.

    After Joe loses, and doesn’t need your support, you’ll be the ones he ignores.


    Exactly. Sestak doesn’t practice what he preaches. I bet one of the lobbying gigs he turned down was from Walmart to pay the employees even less.

  6. …and my point is proven. The “reporting at the time” Diano is so fond of citing consists of a couple of anonymous self-referential blogs, a Specter attack ad, and of course, the ubiquitous list of unnamed sources. A Wikipedia article says.” In an investigative report by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark stated that he,”wanted straight talk, and this put [Sestak] in the crosshairs. People are going to say what they want to say, but he challenged people who did not want to be challenged. The guy is courageous, a patriot’s patriot.”[
    And being made special advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations is not, despite what Dave thinks, being “fired”. As for the rest, well, “What is asserted without proof may be dismissed without argument”.

  7. To all you “progressives” that go on and on and on about how Sestak is the best choice and your Progressive champion, fighting so bravely against the Democratic establishment: JUST LOOK AT THE MAN’S FEC REPORT. He had 16 staffers (18, but 2 had the sense to quit) who he paid about $86,000. McGinty paid the SAME amount of staffers $221,000. Meanwhile Joe runs around the state preaching about fair wages and making life better for families. Yet he is paying his own staff nothing! How can you Sestak supporters justify that? I’d really like to hear a Sestak supporter answer that, because it is baffling to me.

  8. Sorry Ross, That was that unrepentant Libtar Diano espousing all that lefty “PC” crap. My mistake. Diano sure is a tool of the Democrat left. He should shut the F up, I’m sick of his whining!

  9. Paul Scoles-

    The excuse that Sestak was let go for suggesting budget cuts is pure hogwash. Vern Clark, Joe’s boss/mentor, was the one who had protected Sestak and made him “untouchable” and ignored complaints about him. The reporting at the time of Mullen’s taking over was clear that Sestak was sacked for his behavior.

    Joe used to call you, Tony, Cliff and the rest of the Delco Dems worthless losers who couldn’t win races. He tried recruiting me to join the inner circle and abandon the Delco Dem, and I declined. His field director told me: “F*ck the other candidates. I don’t care if they all lose. Joe’s the only one that matters.”

    Sestak is an ungrateful bastard who has used you guys since he arrived on the scene.

    When you were treasurer, he was months late paying for a table for a Delco Dems dinner, then the payment was back-dated to hide his lateness.

    You have seen the real Sestak, so you know.

  10. Thank you Chuck Z, well-regarded polling expert. I will make sure to wire your statement to CNN.

    Let’s not forget how Sestak supporters see Harper polling when their guy is in the lead. Here is well known shill Observer #2 after the September poll that had him up 10. You know this Sestak groupie now as McGinty’s Revolving door.

    Observer #2 says:
    September 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm
    What people have been saying all along–Sestak wins. McG ran for Gov and still lacks name recognition! She’s out of her league, as she was in previous political events. Sestak is heading toward the main event with Toomey.

    And here our friend is now….

    Mcginty’s revolving door to $$$ says:
    April 25, 2016 at 3:52 pm
    McGinty is still going to lose—either in the primary tomorrow–good chance–or, if she somehow wins her 1st election ever, she will lose badly to Toomey in the Fall. These Harper polls have been so wrong that they seem to be like a push-poll work-the-ref kind of operation, hoping to persuade but no one buys their tactics.

  11. So someone running for less than a year will likely beat someone who has been running for 8 years. To all you “grassroot” Sestak supporters, you may not like your establishment, but it is kicking your ass behind the loser of a candidate you’ve hitched your wagon to. Most people who get out to vote aren’t jackasses like Steve Todd who elected officials won’t touch with a ten foot pole because he always wants to slut shame everyone as being a sellout to left if they don’t follow his exact ideology. Voters are are normal people who simply want government to work together a bit and fix the problems they can, particularly in the legislature. Being a maverick isn’t a good thing because it gets in the way of problem solving and wastes people’s time and tax dollars.

    McGinty has the support from every elected official and nearly democratic organization that matters. If you don’t see that as a good thing that helps further a progressive agenda, then you don’t understand how government works. Sestak would be as useless to the left in the senate as cruz is to the right. Everyone will hate him and he will stand in the way of the progress we could achieve.

  12. @dave Diano has made it is life’s mission for the last ten years to badmouth Sestak. It’s a shame, because all that energy could be put to much more positive use, just as the nearly $4 mill Ed Rendell’s machine has spent to beat Joe could have been spent to beat Toomey. Diano’s enmity is based on Joe’s unwillingness to provide unlimited funds to marginal candidates in Delco who weren’t willing to do their own fundraising.

    Dave is also displaying what can only be called aggressive ignorance about Joe’s naval career. Sestak was the first non-airman in history to command an international carrier battle group in combat. That alone makes any assertion that he couldn’t work with others laughable. Joe’s ultimate break with top navy brass resulted from him being honest: he was tasked with developing the Navy’s 5 year force requirement report. Instead of faking a report that would make his superiors happy, he reported the facts: his recommendation was that the current 11 carrier battle groups was wasteful and inefficient, and recommended decreasing it to 9. Obviously, you don’t get ahead in the Navy by telling the brass that they need fewer ships.

    As for Dave’s tabloid accusation list: “Quod etiam sine probatinibus, possit dimitti sine ratione”

    This race is about one thing, and one only: Ed Rendell’s pathologic grudge against Joe for trouncing his mentor, Arlen Specter. McGinty was the 16th choice (only one of the 15 who said no was a woman, which tells you a lot about whether the carrying on about getting a woman in the seat is believable). She’s Rendell’s partner in a venture capital firm specializing in fracking projects. She’s made a fortune bouncing back and forth between public and private sectors, and she’s an advocate for the environment the way Rendell is an advocate for healthy food choices.

    Rendell may well be able to buy her a win using an obscene amount of PAC money. It will then be fascinating to watch her condemn the Citizens United decision.

  13. I work as a political consultant and know many more that also work in campaigns. Specter made a huge mistake when he attacked Sestak’s military record. Saying that I have heard too many conversations of people particularly of women staffers who have worked for Sestak starting in his Congressional campaign. Sestak in everyone of those conversations from people (some of them young interns) that despise the man. Treats an underpaid staff in private with a surly and overbearing arrogant personality. I know that is not the public Sestak you see but it is the true Sestak. Sestak because of his arrogance, pride, and ignorance rejected money and field help from the Democratic Party after he defeated Specter. Leaving that field support and money on the table in losing to Toomey by 2% is crazy train actions. Bridges where burned forever by Sestak. If he wins the Democratic Senatorial Primary he will be on an island by himself against Toomey with no money to compete with Toomey. The Democratic Party will take their money and invest it in the other 6 battleground Senatorial races. This will have nothing to do with McGinty but all about the childish manner Sestak has conducted himself in the last seven years. The bad thing is we in Pennsylvania get Pat Toomey for six more years. To stop this happening VOTE KATIE MCGINTY for U.S. Senate today.

  14. Joe Sestak, is a good man and being that he was an Admiral of a fleet that included other countries one could accurately assess that he is a good leader. There will always be critics but his rising to the level of Admiral needs no more comment from me.

    McGinty is tied into the energy industry earning over a million in 5 years–a skilled politician like Toomey will make effectively capitalize on this issue. Toomey is a very politician and he’ll use this issue to his advantage. We need Sestak to win.

  15. It will be the height of what is becoming a classic injustice: our insular, unaccountable, small, and shrinking Political Class buys yet another election from We The People.
    For shame to all involved. This Dem is not at all sure of my actions forward. I need some very deep soul searching

  16. Ross Anderson

    It’s not that her works his staff hard, it’s that he’s abusive to them because he gets off bullying them. The high staff turnover led to poor constituentconstituents services. I knew one guy whose case kept getting dropped because the people working on it quit, and he had to keep calling back and starting from scratch.

    If Joe hadn’t retired, he should have been dishonorably discharged.

    Sestak used to illegally fundraise from inside his congressional office. One of the lawyers on his staff quit over it because he wouldn’t desist after she warned him.

  17. @ Tim, I never use that term. I have never heard one of my liberal friends use it.

  18. @Dave Diano, Again, he reached three-star status but is technically two-star since he retired too early. Getting to that level is a great accomplishment!I think that’s a weak attack for you to stress that point that he’s technically two-star; he served this country for over 30 years! He is also known to be a workaholic, hence he does have staff turnover, but he is known for hiring all sorts of people and treating them fairly, including Muslims, LGBT, women, etc. In regards to him refusing help in 2010, it was because he did not want to be part of the Washington political machine. I know of him actually returning a donation from a friend of mine because he said he didn’t want it look like he was being influenced by a donor over the energy issues. McGinty, on the other hand, is very much influenced by energy, especially since she is a partner with Rendell in a venture capital firm that invests in natural gas. She also has major ethical concerns from her time with Rendell as part of the DEP and her dealings with the private sector, especially from the contracts she likely benefited from.

    I watched all of the debates. Fetterman or Sestak won every one. I think those two are clearly better candidates.

  19. My vote is going to the guy who almost won the state wide race, and earned his nomination… and not to the Barbie puppet who ignominiously lost, dead last, her own party’s primary

  20. Hey Ross Anderson, How come you “PC” Libs always throw out terms like “misogynist”, did you learn that from your lefty lezbo activist pot smoking gal pal at state university dummy?

  21. I don’t know what to say research beyond the shadow of a doubt ,coming out of Delaware County and winning for Congress ain’t bean bag.Senator Bob Edgar came from Delaware County and became a national figure for good,A last minute broadside is suprising,and with no significant details, only hearsay,unsubstantiated, Delaware County is a strong Republican party stronghold.walking 500 miles says a lot,my son is US NAVY,THE FIRST SON IS US MARINES,MY MOTHER WORKED IN MECHANICSBURG BEATRICE POOLE US NAVY,MY VOTE ANCHORS AWAY BOYS,DAMN, THE TORPEDOS.

  22. Ross Anderson-

    He left because Admiral Mullen made it his first act to relieve Sestak of duty after years of abusing staff and driving good people to quit the Navy. Sestak’s navy career was finally over because Muller replaced Vern Clark, who had protected/shielded Sestak from proper discipline. If his daughter had not become ill, Sestak would have been forced out away.

    Also, he had put out some feelers for a political run before 2005, so he wasn’t staying in that job and already looking for an exit into politics. He uses his daughter as an excuse for many things, and a lot of people are disgusted by it.

    It is improper to continue to refer to him as three-star, when he should be referred to by his correct rank two-star (retired).

    Sestak is a misogynist. Women in his congressional staff were hired for their looks. In early 2007, one female staffer was told by Joe’s district office manager to “Shut the f*ck up. You were hired for your looks, not your opinions. Your job is to look good for Joe.” That’s a direct quote from the young lady in question, who quit and whose public silence was bought off with intimidation and a recommendation letter.

    Joe is not an advocate for women, but rather an abuser of them (mentally, not physically).

    According to a reliable staffer, Sestak’s teaching was a smoke-screen to provide research to plagiarize into his book (about restoring honor and integrity).

    McGinty finished 4th out of 9, and the seasoned “pros” at 2nd and 3rd didn’t crack 20% against Wolf. That election was an anomaly.

    This is another 4 way primary, and she isn’t coming in 4th this time.

    The “narrow” election Sestak lost to Toomey in 2010 was entirely Sestak’s fault (and Specter would have cleaned Toomey’s clock). Sestak refused help from the party and former Specter supporters, and sunk his own ship out of spite and ego.

    Sestak’s nursed his hatred of the party for 6 years. Do you think he will be
    A) More Cooperative
    B) Less Cooperative

    (hint: a buzzing insect that makes honey)

  23. @David Diano he attained the level of three-star admiral but technically he retired as two-star given the limited time he was a 3-star general (he left because of his daughter getting cancer). He still was the highest ranking military or naval officer ever elected to Congress.

    In terms of women’s issues, I never really even brought that up. Unfortunately a person’s sex or gender doesn’t always determine who the best representative is in terms of whom will make the best decisions; there are plenty of female firebrands willing to defund Planned Parenthood even though they are a Medicaid provider and in some areas the only providers. Sestak is just as much an advocate for women’s issues as McGinty is.

    Sestak never was a politician until 2005 and then was elected in 2006 in a Republican district against a long-time incumbent. He beat another long-time incumbent in 2010 before losing to Toomey in a narrow election while the governor’s race was not even close and the Republicans had a big wave. McGinty has ran in one primary before and finished 4th out of 4 in 2014. Since Sestak lost in 2010 he has been teaching and preparing for a second run, amongst other things.

  24. Ross Anderson-
    Actually, we have a TWO star Admiral (retired) on the ballot. Sestak officially retired as a two, not three, star, and it is improper to refer to him as three.

    Sestak’s only been elected to one office: Congress, and was reelected (against no real opposition), 8 years ago. He hasn’t been elected to anything else since.

    Do you think Sestak has a better chance of explaining to the Senate GOP how a woman’s body works? Sestak would probably have to revert to analogies of “torpedoes” and “missile tubes” and “launch”.

  25. Go Sestak. I have my doubts about this poll; it has Bernie down 28 points while the other polls have it closer to ten points. It has been an outlier.

    I am troubled by this race for many reasons. First is that McGinty has never been elected to anything and has nothing really that appealing about her; the only thing that’s driving her campaign is all the endorsements she has been getting, in large part due to her friends/business partners that have backed her. For her pal Rendell, this is largely a revenge campaign. She also has had major ethical issues in her past dealings as part of the EPA, the PA Department of Environmental Protection, and then her private sector dealings, especially the venture capital firm she and Rendell are partners in.

    Some of these endorsements are getting just plain bad. The Daily News said that all 3 candidates had similar positions but they were endorsing McGinty because she is a woman and we need more women in the Senate (never mind we have a three-star admiral on the ballot and a man who has devoted his life to fighting poverty) (Arrrgghhhhh!!!!) PGN also endorsed her, stating because she was a woman, despite having nothing on her record on favoring LGBT rights while the other two have good records.

    I will vote for whomever the Democratic nominee is in November, but I think the Establishment made the wrong choice in backing McGinty.

  26. Tim and Montco PA Dem-

    Sadly, we didn’t have a sore-loser law that prevented him from running this year. 🙁

  27. Revolving door aka Observer 2,
    You say this like McGinty keeps on running for things. This is only her second campaign and in 6 months she overcame Sestak’s lead from 6 years of non-stop campaigning. You sound like a pathetic fan boy who can’t get over the fact that you backed a loser that everyone hates. Actually you sound like almost every Ted Cruz supporter I know. Nice work.

    Derek, great point.

  28. All of you Sestak supporters weren’t complaining when Harper had him up by double digits. In fact, the Sestak campaign repeatedly sent emails touting previous polls by Harper Polling.

  29. McGinty is still going to lose—either in the primary tomorrow–good chance–or, if she somehow wins her 1st election ever, she will lose badly to Toomey in the Fall. These Harper polls have been so wrong that they seem to be like a push-poll work-the-ref kind of operation, hoping to persuade but no one buys their tactics.

  30. Katie may be the new face of what’s wrong in politics.

    Shame in the party for going against voters and propping this gas industry shill up. God forbid she wins, Toomey is going to have a field day with Corporate Katie.

  31. Observer-

    “METHODOLOGY: The sample size for the survey is 641 likely Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania and the margin of error is +/-3.9%. Responses were gathered through cell phone interviews conducted using live operators and land line interviews conducted using Interactive Voice Response. The survey was conducted April 21-23, 2016 by Harper Polling”


    In 2010, Sestak lent his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars to get him through October, and appear “solvent” to draw in more donors
    I think it was $800,000. The link below is for $365,000 which I think was just part of it. Either way, its still a lot of money that he timed to hide it from becoming public before the election.

  32. Democrats in the 10th District should write in Mike Molesevich for Congress. He needs 1000 votes to get on the November ballot.

  33. No Rhonda, the DSCC is definitely not a special interest. Special interest groups are those that have a very narrow policy focus. The DSCC is the complete opposite, a broad interest group representing a host of Democratic issues.

    I don’t understand how people have a problem with their big spending but ignore that Sestak and Fetterman both have dark money super pacs that are made only for them to funnel in money beyond federal limits.

  34. Landline poll – in 2016??? LOLOLololol…. Whoever paid this polling firm threw away a bunch of cash.

  35. Just to confirm (and rule out any post-primary zombie candidacy), PA does have a sore-loser law that would prevent Sestak from running as an independent in November after he loses tomorrow, right?

  36. CPEC has it Fetterman—13.38%, McGinty—-45.54%, Sestak—39.94%, Vodvarka—-1.14%

  37. And in her commercial with Obama, he says she won’t give in to special interests! Total bull! $4 million from the DSCC to win a primary and that’s not a special interest? Katie will do whatever her bosses tell he to do.

  38. Franklin and Marshall poll ended on April 18 and this Harper poll ends on April 23rd and Sestak goes from 6 points ahead in Franklin and Marshall to 6 behind in Harper??? A 12 point swing in 5 days? Somethings off here big time. Go Sestak.

  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

    • Less Likely (36%)
    • More Likely (34%)
    • Makes No Difference (30%)

    Total Voters: 112

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