Quinnipiac Poll: Toomey 42, Sestak 37

Toomey Sestak
Toomey, left, and Sestak

Sen. Pat Toomey probably thought he had a good 12 to 18 months before the first public poll on his re-election odds.

But a survey from Quinnipiac, released today, puts him head-to-head with Joe Sestak, the former Navy Admiral and former Congressman who lost to Toomey in 2010.

Toomey leads Sestak 42% to 37%. It’s wider than the 51% to 49% edge Toomey earned over Sestak at the ballot box in 2010.

Toomey stays ahead because of a 10 point lead among independents and his ability to peel off 13% of Democrats. In southeast Pa., which includes Sestak’s base in Delaware County and Toomey’s base in the Lehigh Valley, the Republican runs ahead 42% to 41%.

That said, the poll portends a tough re-election battle. Sestak has been out of office for 2 and a half years. Just 41% of respondents had an opinion of him (26% favorable, 15% unfavorable). Yet he still came within the margin of error.

Men go to Toomey 51% to 31%; women favor Sestak 42% to 34%.

Toomey’s approval rating is positive, 46% to 29%. That’s possibly due to his high-profile, bipartisan push for background checks for gun purchases. 54% of respondents said that move made them view him more favorably versus just 10% who said it lowered their opinion of the Senator. Even respondents who said they had a gun in their households improved their view of Toomey, 44% to 15%.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,032 registered voters via live interviews on land lines and cell phones from May 30 to June 4. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.

Sestak surprised the political world when he unexpectedly raised half a million dollars in the first quarter of this year. He announced in May that he had formed an exploratory committee for Senate.

The challenge would be the first U.S. Senate rematch in Pa. history.

8 Responses

  1. This is response to Proud South Central Democrat: How can you like Toomey AND Casey? They vote opposite on every vote. This would be like endorsing Specter AND Santorum. (Oh, I forgot. The R’s already did that)

  2. Everyone holds their breath until a Quinnipiac or NYT’s poll is released (sarcasm). Toomey must be laughing all the way back to his office in D.C.

  3. It’s 2 years too early to look at this, which is a lifetime in politics. While Toomey’s bipartisanship on the background check bill is commendable and certainly something voters should take into account, most of the issues that the 2016 Senate race will focus on probably haven’t even arisen yet… This is a little absurd to look at.

  4. I’m a Democrat, but I will be voting for Senator Toomey. I was very impressed with his work with the background check issue. He has proven to be a pragmatic, bipartisan, effective leader for the state following in the tradition of centrist Senators like Arlen Specter, Bob Casey and John Heinz. Keep up the good work Senator Toomey!

  5. Mr. Club for Growth has voted for every repugnant Republican obstruction and against the economic and personal interests of every middle class Pennsylvanian.

    Do you think this might matter regardless of gender or skin color???

  6. I realize that Democrats have bigger turnouts in Presidential years, but I believe some are putting too much stock into this in basically writing off Toomey’s re-election chances.  It won’t be a walk in the park, but I definitely expect this to be a winnable race for him.  

    First, I think many undervalue the benefit of being an incumbent (whether Rep or Dem) with relatively high approval ratings.  The demographics may not be exactly the same this time around, but this is still the same state where 10% or 15% of Gore voters split their ticket to support Santorum.  You see instances similar to that in elections nationwide year after year.

    Second, I recently read that African-American voter turnout eclipsed that of Whites for the first time in 2012.  If Hillary is the nominee instead of someone like Deval Patrick, I anticipate that African-American turnout will fall back a bit in 2016.

  7. “women favor Sestak 42% to 34%”

    …. because they don’t know how he has treated his female staffers. If they knew the truth, this number would probably reverse.

    However, 2016 is a presidential year so likely voter models will favor Democrats, due to high Philly turnout and a few hundred thousand new voter registrations.

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