Rasmussen: Toomey Holds Lead Over Sestak in Pa. Race

Monday, 19 Jul 2010 12:32 PM

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The numbers remain little changed this month in Pennsylvania’s race for the U.S. Senate, with Republican Pat Toomey continuing to maintain a slight lead over Democrat Joe Sestak.

Toomey received 45 percent support, compared with Sestak’s 38 percent, in Rasmussen Reports’ July 14 telephone survey of 750 likely voters in the state. Six percent prefer some other candidate in the race, and 12 percent are undecided.

Last month, Toomey held a near-identical 45-to-39-percent lead.

In fact, except for a brief surge after his mid-May victory over incumbent Arlen Specter in the state’s Democratic Senate primary, support for Sestak has remained in the 36-to-40-percent range in matchups with Toomey back to February. In those same surveys, Toomey has received 42 to 47 percent of the vote.

With this latest result, the race is shifting from tossup to leans Republican in the Rasmussen Reports Balance of Power rankings.

Findings in Pennsylvania mirror the political mood in much of the country, with voters pessimistic about the economy and critical of government actions such as the new national healthcare law and the federal legal challenge of Arizona’s immigration law.

Only 8 percent of Pennsylvania voters rate the economy as good or excellent, while 49 percent view it as poor. About one-fourth say the economy is getting better, but 46 percent feel it is getting worse.

Nearly 65 percent of voters in the state say the country is in a recession, and just 19 percent disagree.

Just over 60 percent of Pennsylvania voters favor repeal of the new national healthcare law, which Sestak voted for as a member of the House, while 35 percent oppose repeal. This is a bit higher than support for repeal nationwide. In the Keystone State, this includes 46 percent who strongly favor repeal and 24 percent who strongly oppose it.

Just over 70 percent of the larger group that strongly favors repeal support Toomey, while 77 percent of those strongly opposed to repeal back Sestak.

Slightly more than 30 percent of all voters in Pennsylvania agree with the Justice Department’s decision to challenge Arizona’s law in federal court, but 56 percent disagree with that decision. That’s comparable with views nationally.

Nearly 20 percent of Pennsylvania voters have a very favorable opinion of Toomey, while 10 percent view him very unfavorably. About 20 percent view Sestak very favorably, but 14 percent view him unfavorably. And 15 percent don’t know enough about either candidate to venture any kind of opinion. At this point, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with strong opinions more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

Toomey holds modest leads among both male and female voters. He captures 78 percent of the GOP vote and 19 percent of Democrats, while Sestak gets just 62 percent support in his own party. Voters not affiliated with either party prefer the Republican by a 2-to-1 margin.

Republican State Attorney General Tom Corbett holds a 10-point lead again this month over Democrat Dan Onorato in Pennsylvania’s race for governor.

About 45 percent approve of the job President Obama is doing in the White House, while 54 percent disapprove. This is little changed from a month ago and is roughly the same level of approval Obama earns nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.


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