A new Rasmussen poll shows likely Republican nominee Pat Toomey maintaining his lead in next year’s Senate race in Pennsylvania.
Toomey leads both Democratic candidates, incumbent Arlen Specter and liberal Congressman Joe Sestak. Specter switched from Republican to Democrat earlier this year to avoid defeat at the hands of Toomey in the primary.
The poll shows Toomey leading Specter 46 to 42 percent, almost the same as in October, when Toomey had a 45 to 40 percent lead.
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Toomey leads Sestak 44 to 38 percent, a sharp turnaround from their tie in the previous poll.
Specter leads Sestak 48 to 35 percent among Democrats.
President Obama, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell and other top Democrats support Specter. But that didn’t deter Sestak, a retired Navy admiral. He says he is the “real Democrat” in the race.
In a sign of Specter’s weakness, more than twice as many respondents view him very unfavorably (35 percent) as view him very favorably (16 percent).
As for Toomey, 15 percent view him very favorably and 9 percent very unfavorably. For Sestak, 11 percent view him very favorably and 12 percent very unfavorably.
Only 6 percent of voters have no opinion of Specter, compared to 19 percent for Toomey and 26 percent for Sestak.
Rasmussen says the awareness numbers are more important than the favorability numbers at this point in the campaign.
Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, cites the Pennsylvania seat as one of several the Republicans can pick up next year.
“In Pennsylvania, Democrats are fighting themselves, as Rep. Joe Sestak takes on Sen. Arlen Specter,” Rove writes in The Wall Street Journal.
“Whoever wins that bruising primary will have to take on Republican Pat Toomey, a former congressman who is putting together a strong campaign.”
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