The 2016 Senate races are still in the early stages, but according a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released Monday, Democratic candidates hold small leads in Florida and Ohio.
Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey is ahead in Pennsylvania in the Quinnipiac poll, despite a recent Washington Post analysis
that gives Democrats a likely win in that state.
"All three swing states are expected to have very competitive U.S. Senate races. None of the candidates in Florida are well-known to voters, while the Pennsylvania and Ohio races involve candidates who have run statewide previously," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll.
"Democrats hold an early edge in the Sunshine State, but no candidate from either party has much visibility at this point."
In possible matchups for the Senate race in Florida:
- Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy tops Republican Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera 40-28 percent.
- Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson also bests Lopez-Cantera by 37-31 percent.
- Murphy is ahead of Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis by 39-31 percent.
- Grayson is also favored over DeSantis by 38-32 percent of those polled.
According the poll, however, the candidates in Florida are largely unknown at this point, with the percentage of voters saying they knew little about them ranging from 62 percent for Grayson to 81 percent for the others.
"The U.S. Senate candidates in Florida," said Brown, "might want to put their pictures on milk cartons to increase their visibility."
In Ohio's Senate race, according to the Quinnipiac poll:
- Former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, has a 46-40 percent lead over Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican who is up for re-election in 2016.
- Portman tops Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld by a wide margin, 49-24 percent.
- Portman has a 49-28 percent job approval and a 43-21 percent favorability rating, while Strickland gets a 47-29 percent favorability rating.
- Eighty-five percent of voters said they haven’t heard enough about Sittenfeld to form an opinion.
Gov. John Kasich has a 60-30 percent job approval rating and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown a 50-31 percent job approval rating.
In Pennsylvania as in Ohio, the major candidates are well-known, Quinnipiac's Brown said.
The results for the Senate race in Pennsylvania are, at this point:
- Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey leads possible Democratic challenger Joe Sestak 47-36 percent in a rematch of the 2010 Senate race.
- Toomey gets a 51-28 percent job approval rating and a 47-24 percent favorability rating.
- Toomey is also preferred over another Democrat, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, by 52-28 percent of those polled.
- Fifty-eight percent of voters said they haven’t heard enough about Sestak to form an opinion of him, and 85 percent haven’t heard enough about Pawlowski.
Pennsylvania voters also approve, 47-32 percent, of the job Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is doing and give Sen. Robert Casey, also a Democrat, a 48-29 percent job approval rating.
But the polls are a still-early snapshot, and the "betting is that when Election Day comes all three of these Senate races will be close," Brown said.
The June 4-15 Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,147 Florida voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points; 1,191 Ohio voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points; and 970 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
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