Close this search box.

PA-Sen: Harper Poll: Toomey Leads All Potential Challengers

Official PortraitIt may be early but there’s good news for Senator Pat Toomey.

According to a new survey from Harper Polling, the incumbent leads all potential Democratic challengers in a 2016 match-up.

Former Congressman and 2010 nominee Joe Sestak and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski have declared their candidacies. Meanwhile, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro has been approached by national Democrats about jumping into the race.


The closest competitor of the three is Sestak, although it’s not much of a contest. Toomey holds a 53% to 32% advantage over his 2010 opponent. 15% of respondents were not sure.

Digging deeper, the Senator also prevails in every region of the state. Sen. Toomey is especially strong in Pittsburgh/Southwest (60%-25%), South Central (55%-27%), the Northern Tier (54%-26%), and Scranton/Lehigh Valley (53%-27%).

Most surprisingly, Toomey even narrowly leads the former Montco Congressman in the Philadelphia/Southeast region (47%-44%).

Although there is a gender gap, the incumbent leads among men (61%-27%) and women (46%-37%).

Meanwhile, Toomey is ahead of Pawlowski 54/30. He even is ahead of the Mayor of Allentown in the Scranton/Lehigh Valley region (57/31).

Additionally, Sen. Toomer has a wide advantage over Shapiro (55%-27%) including in Philly and SEPA (51%-37%).


Not only does Toomey lead all head-to-head matchups, but he also has the best favorability ratings.

Fifty-four percent of respondents have a favorable impression of the Senator (21% strongly favorable, 33% somewhat favorable) while just thirty-two percent have an unfavorable impression (17% somewhat unfavorable, 15% very unfavorable).

The Senator’s favorables outweigh his unfavorables in every region of the state.

On the other hand, Joe Sestak faces a 33%-32% split. Pawlowski is up against favorable/unfavorable ratings of 20% and 19% respectively. For Shapiro the tally is 19% to 18%.

Sixty-three percent don’t know enough about Shapiro compared to 61% for Pawlowski and 35% for Sestak.

While incredibly early, this survey could still have an impact on the race. Shapiro is reluctant to jump into the contest as he faces re-election as Commissioner this November. Furthermore, since the Attorney General is in a bit of trouble he can always ran against her in the Democratic primary next year. A crucial factor in the decision between a race for Senate and a race for Attorney General is that any money Shapiro raises for his re-election campaign can be carried over in the latter case but not the former.

One important caveat to these numbers is that Harper is a Republican polling firm, although their gubernatorial surveys last year were mostly in line with the eventual results.

The sample size for the survey is 503 likely voters in Pennsylvania and the margin of error is +/-4.37%. Responses were gathered through landline interviews conducted using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The survey was conducted May 6-7, 2015 by Harper Polling.

11 Responses

  1. The fact that 2016 is a presidential year means absolutely nothing. When will PA Dems wake up and realize that having good candidates does actually matter!?

    2000 – Al Gore Wins PA and Rick Santorum wins a second term:
    RON KLINK (D) 45%

    2016 – Hillary Wins PA and Pat Toomey wins a second term:
    PAT TOOMEY (R) 52%
    JOE SESTAK (D) 48%

    The REAL loser in this poll is Joe Sestak. He has the most name recognition out of the 3 opponents polled (I mean come on, he was the nominee in 2010) and he has essentially been running for the job for over 6 years now and he’s losing bad against Toomey.

    The WINNER of this poll is Josh Shapiro. Shapiro hasn’t even announced yet, he’s not as well known, but polls only a few points short of Sestak in this poll. Plus, Shapiro is a proven fundraiser and would get the support of DSCC and Tom Wolf.

    My money is on Shapiro!

  2. I looked at the poll on Harper Polling’s web site. No where do I see who paid for the poll. Harper works for Republicans so this result does not surprise me. The poll called 503 likely voters but who were they? How were they picked and who defined likely voters?

    You can get any result you want by how you ask the questions and who you ask. This is meaningless.

  3. Way to bury the lede at the end of the article: ” Harper is a Republican polling firm” – which explains each and every number. you really think Wolf is only pulling in 49%?? That is laughable. And Toomey is in Reality – ignored by Harper’s methodology – behind every major challenger. This “poll” is just manipulation to keep strong candidates out, and donors hanging onto their wallets. Toomey is Done, Done, Done – just like One-Term Tommy. State goes OVERWHELMINGLY Blue in 2016.

  4. Meaningless poll. Period. It is far too early and when the Clinton factor is put in play, all these numbers will seem like a distant memory.

  5. Record, don’t underestimate Shapiro. He isn’t running, but it isn’t because he doesn’t have the guts. He has an over-developed sense of self, and he does not like to lose. He will only go for a race where he can stack the deck.

  6. It is reasonable to anticipate an AG-race between Rafferty and Shapiro, waged intensely in SE-PA.

  7. Shapiro isn’t running for Senate. He doesn’t have the guts to pull the trigger. He always floats his name out there for higher office but never actually runs. Just likes the attention of being mentioned.

  8. “The closest competitor of the three is Sestak, although it’s not much of a contest. Toomey holds a 53% to 32% advantage over his 2010 opponent.”

    So, tomorrow expect a new fundraising letter from Sestak stating that he’s the closest competitor (and leaving out Toomey’s lead in the poll).

    Carrying over money for Shapiro is easy. Just send some money back to donors who agree to re-donate it to senate.

  9. And by “mostly in line” you mean “predicted the margin within half a point.”

  • Do you agree that ByteDance should be forced to divest TikTok?

    • Yes. It's a national security risk. (60%)
    • No. It's an app used by millions and poses no threat. (40%)
    • What's ByteDance? (0%)

    Total Voters: 30

    Loading ... Loading ...
Continue to Browser


To install tap and choose
Add to Home Screen