Toomey leads narrowly for reelection; Presidential Matches Split

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new Pennsylvania Senate poll finds that Pat Toomey continues to have weak approval numbers, and leads his potential Democratic opponents by only 3 to 7 points.

Only 28% of voters approve of the job Toomey is doing to 43% who disapprove, with a lot (29%) having no opinion one way or another. Those numbers are consistent with where we’ve found him in our polling all year- he was at 30% approval in May and 28% approval in February when we polled the state. A big part of what drags down Toomey’s overall approval numbers is that he’s not very popular even with Republican voters- only 42% approve of him to 27% who disapprove. But most of those people will still vote for him in a general election even if they don’t approve of him, which is why he still leads the Democratic field.

Toomey has leads of 41-38 over Joe Sestak, 43-36 over Katie McGinty, and 41-34 over John Fetterman.  This is the first time McGinty and Fetterman have been polled this year but the numbers in a Sestak/Toomey contest have been pretty steady- Toomey was ahead by 4 points on both of our previous surveys. None of the Democratic candidates are very well known- Sestak has 41% name recognition, McGinty 35%, and Fetterman 22%. Because of their low profiles there are a lot more undecided Democrats than Republicans in all the match ups with Toomey, giving them room to grow as they become better known and suggesting that this should end up being a pretty competitive race.

Undecided leads the Democratic primary for Senate. 35% of voters don’t currently know who they’ll vote for, with Sestak getting 29%, McGinty 22%, and Fetterman 14%. Even among Democratic primary voters none of the candidates reach 50% name recognition- Sestak’s the highest at 47%- so that makes it a pretty wide open race.

Pennsylvanians continue to support one issue Toomey championed earlier in his first term- 84% support background checks on all gun purchases to only 8% who are opposed to them. That includes strong favor across party lines from Democrats (91/3), Republicans (80/10), and independents (75/13) alike.

General election match ups for President in Pennsylvania are a mixed bag. Hillary Clinton trails behind Ben Carson (47/43), Chris Christie (45/41), Marco Rubio (45/42), Donald Trump (45/43), and Carly Fiorina (43/42) in the state. But she has leads over John Kasich (41/39), Jeb Bush (45/40), Ted Cruz (46/40), Rick Santorum (47/39) and Mike Huckabee (47/38). Republicans leading half of the match ups is a pretty good sign for them in a state where they haven’t won the general election in almost 30 years.

Bernie Sanders performs pretty comparably to Clinton in general election match ups in Pennsylvania, doing on average only one point worse than her. He trails Carson 44/36, which is 4 points worse than Clinton does in that match up. But against Trump his 46/42 deficit is only 2 points worse than Clinton’s, against Fiorina his 40/38 deficit is only a point worse than Clinton, and against Rubio his 41/40 deficit is actually a couple points better than Clinton’s.

Joe Biden leads all the Republican candidates we tested against him in Pennsylvania and on average does about 6 points better than Clinton in the comparable general election match ups. He leads Carson 46/44, Trump 45/43, Rubio 45/41, and Fiorina 46/40. Of course the standard caveat that life as a non candidate is usually a lot easier than life as a candidate applies once again to these numbers.

Carson (41/37) and Biden (45/42) are the only candidates with positive favorability ratings among the overall electorate in Pennsylvania.

Full results here

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