PA-Sen: Harper Poll: Sestak 41% McGinty 31% Fetterman 9%

Joe-Sestak-headshotThe Senate Democratic primary is up in the air but Sestak has the advantage.

That’s the conclusion of the latest Harper Poll, which surveyed PA Dems on their three Senate choices.

41% of likely voters prefer former Congressman Joe Sestak while 31% go with former Chief of Staff to Gov. Wolf Katie McGinty. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman gets 9% while 19% are still undecided.

Since last month, the margin between Sestak and McGinty has shrunk while their shares of the vote has grown at the expense of Fetterman.

Sestak’s lead holds across the ideological spectrum and he is ahead in Philly and the Southeast (50-24) while McGinty’s best areas are Pittsburgh/Southwest (38-28) and South Central (39-36).

McGinty also trails among female voters, 32% to 38%, though the gap is smaller than among male voters, 30% to 44%.


As for favorability, 63% of respondents hold McGinty in high esteem (24% very favorable, 39% somewhat favorable). Just 17% view her unfavorably (4% very, 13% somewhat).

For Sestak the split is 70% to 15%, with 36% having a very favorable impression.

Fetterman’s problem isn’t that voters don’t like him, it’s that they don’t know him (his campaign is trying to rectify that). A plurality of respondents, 42%, aren’t sure about Fetterman. He has a 39% to 18% split among those who are.

Furthermore, Harper’s found that two-thirds of voters haven’t heard or seen anything recently about Fetterman. For Sestak and McGinty the results are flipped.

Ideology and Intensity

One intriguing difference the survey uncovered was that a plurality of voters identified McGinty as somewhat liberal (30%) while tagging Sestak as a moderate (31%). That could work to the ex-Admiral’s advantage in the general but is less likely to help him in the primary.

McGinty’s biggest problem, though, is intensity.

Just 52% of her voters said they would “definitely” support while 42% said they “probably” would.

This compares unfavorably to those splits for Sestak and Fetterman, which were 62/31 and 61/30 respectively.

Obama and Biden

A huge bright spot for McGinty, however, is the endorsement of the President and Vice President.

Harper’s asked voters if they would be more or less likely to support McGinty if they knew President Obama and Vice President Biden endorsed her.

58% (34% much more, 24% somewhat more) said they would be more likely to support her after the President’s endorsement. Just 8% said less likely while 33% responded that it wouldn’t make a difference.

As for the VP, 57% (34%, 23%) indicated they were more likely to support a candidate that Biden chose. 6% were less likely and 36% were unaffected.

Finally, 39% of all respondents were more likely to support the choice of the Democratic establishment and just 28% would prefer an outsider.

This split was 41/28 in the Philadelphia/Southeast region of the commonwealth.

So expect more ads about the President’s support of McGinty. Additionally, the McGinty camp should be begging the White House to have Pres. Obama record automated calls in Philadelphia.

Harper Polling surveyed 603 likely Democratic primary voters through landline interviews conducted using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The poll took place between on April 2nd and April 3rd. The margin of error is +/- 4%.

18 Responses

  1. The poll that came out this week showed that Sestak’s support increased from 21% to 31%, and McGinty increased only 13% to 14% despite the tons of $$$$ DSCC is pouring in to buy a contested primary for their media darling. . 2) the endorsement/support of Obama went to former GOP Arlen Specter…..who LOST. to Sestak in the D primary. 3) despite what Rendellians like Groen want or think, Chester County Democratic Party (rank and file committeepeople voted 6-1 of 140+ committeepeople to endorse Sestak, not McGinty. It is well known that Rendellian “Groan” engineered the defeat of Sestak supporter Jim Burn as head of the state Dem party. (perhaps Groan only wanted the chance to get the lucrative Dem convention control into the hands of his E PA cronies.. who knows? ) all of the behind the scenes money and endorsements for DSCC’s 7th choice mc Ginty may backfire when rank and file conclude that voting for their choice of candidates, not the big blue machines, is about the only power the rank and file have left.

  2. Joe Sestak is thee only super experienced & brilliant candidate & we’ll be so fortunate to have him as our senator. And I truly believe he is the only candidate that can prevail against Toomey.
    As always Diano, get a life!!!

  3. Hey, David Diano, what do you know about Sestak that makes you say he’s an untrustworthy carpetbagging fraud?
    I am genuinely asking, not trying to argue. I don’t know that much about any of the candidates beyond their own stated platforms, so I would love to hear any and all information to help me make a choice. Thanks!

  4. John Fetterman has my support! Joe’s a decent second choice but he probably won’t win the general. Katie McGinty on the other hand, is definitely not what we want. She has the establishment support along with big money interests to whom she will ultimately be beholden to, not the people of PA. Fetterman is from a small community that, like many other regions of Pennsylvania and our nation, faces big problems. He has been successful at coming up with solutions to these issues and wears the concerns of his constituents on his sleeve (literally).

    Also, to the guy who claims to have met Mr. Fetterman and says that he’s not who he appears to be, I adamantly disagree. I too have met Mr. Fetterman and he’s definitely not some mechanical politician; he’s authentic, passionate, very intelligent, and I think his “outside of the box” demeanor is exactly what we need in order to get problems solved in our nation’s capitol.

  5. InformedVoter-

    Well, no matter the outcome, someone’s going to be upset. 🙂

    I’m sure that Joe’s local PA realtor is voting for McGinty so they can sell his house.

  6. According to Marcel Groen; Chair of the PA Dems – Fetterman is the ONLY candidate that can beat Toomey in the Fall. Sestak is a nutjob and McGinty is a political lightweight. I would vote for Fetterman before any of the others and so would most Democrats. I forsee an upset in 3 short weeks.

  7. To Billy above. I would be careful about making derogatory remarks about “old people” If you are lucky you will be one someday. Maybe in your view their opinions don’t matter but they get a vote just like you and hopefully it will go to Sestak.

  8. McG and Fetterman are about to lose to Joe Sestak. Fetterman should drop out to avoid further embarassment. Most of Fets voters come from Sestak, so Joe would be up around 50% as was mentioned elsewhere. McG is about to lose her 4th political contest. Toomey is comfortably sitting on the sidelines, but hoping the Admiral does not take him on a 2nd time. BTW, Fet is not the liberal some think!! Ask him specific questions and you will find out. IMO, he endorsed Bernie simply to ride Bernie’s coattails and Bernie’s candidacy of not being part of the Dem insider political class. I met Fet twice now and have a good idea of where he is coming from. He’s still far better than McG, of course. Go Joe!

  9. Hanzee-

    It does say: Likely Voters
    and it was conducted April 2-3, after the Obama endorsement.

    However, I don’t know what their definition of “likely voter” is and what version of voter database they where using. With all the party switching, and new registrations, it’s not clear how they sampled the voters.

  10. Not a LV poll and likely conducted before the WH endorsement. These results should be taken with a grain of salt.

  11. PADem –

    I meant the effect of saturation ad campaign. It’s one thing to mention to voter Obama’s support on a call. It’s another to see it in ads.

    Nearly 200,000 Dems have registered since Jan 1st. I doubt any of them were even in this poll, since they have no voting record to trigger as “likely”.

  12. Automated land line poll… so we know that old people with nothing to do are supporting Sestak.

  13. “I don’t think the poll takes into account the Obama endorsement.” read the last section.

  14. McGinty shouldn’t be anywhere near the Senate. She’ll get easily defeated in November if she’s the nominee.

  15. I don’t think the poll takes into account the Obama endorsement. There should be a lot of ads with that saturating the airwaves in the next weeks, which should tighten the race further.

    McGinty (and Fetterman) need to expose Sestak for the untrustworthy, carpetbagging fraud he is.

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