October 1, 2009 - Pennsylvania Senate Seesaw Tips To Toomey, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Obama's Approval Drops Below 50 Percent

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The seesaw 2010 Senate race in Pennsylvania tips to Republican Pat Toomey, who has 43 percent to recently converted Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter's 42 percent, too close to call, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. This reverses a 45 - 44 percent tip to Sen. Specter July 22 and wipes out a 20-point Specter lead May 4, in the flush of Specter's switch from Republican to Democrat to escape a primary battle with Toomey.

President Barack Obama's job approval rating in the Keystone State has dropped to a new low, 49 - 42 percent, the first time he has been under 50 percent in the state, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

The good news for Sen. Specter, who was first elected to the Senate as a Republican in 1980, is that he remains far ahead of his Democratic primary challenger, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak from southeastern Pennsylvania, 44 - 25 percent.

But Sestak runs almost as well as Specter against Toomey, trailing the Republican only 38 - 35 percent.

"Toomey and Specter are neck and neck in what could be a 13-month horse race. The challenger's ability to close the 53 - 33 percent gap in Quinnipiac University's May 4 poll is evidence that the longtime senator's decision to switch parties to avoid a potential loss to Toomey in a GOP primary may not be the magic bullet for reelection that he had hoped it would be," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Specter has more than enough time to reverse his fortunes, but being tied with the relatively unknown Toomey is evidence that this election has become a referendum on Specter."

Only 44 percent of voters approve of Specter's job performance, while 48 percent disapprove. Only 37 percent feel that Specter deserves reelection, compared to 52 percent who say he does not deserve a fifth term. These are his worst scores for both measures.

Specter is viewed favorably by 42 percent of voters, unfavorably by 46 percent.

Toomey gets a 34 - 12 percent favorability, but he is relatively unknown as 53 percent do not know enough about him to form an opinion.

"Pat Toomey is pretty much a blank slate to half of the state's voters and that is both his opportunity and his potential Achilles Heel," said Brown. "Given his own shortcomings in the public eye, the only way for Sen. Specter to defeat Toomey is to convince that huge group of voters that they won't like what they find out about Toomey. There will be a race to define Pat Toomey to Pennsylvanians and that race will likely determine who wins the Senate seat.

"Unless Toomey shoots himself in the foot, Specter will have to do it for him by running a strongly negative campaign."

The drop in President Obama's approval rating, from 56 - 37 percent in a July 22 Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvanian voters, is similar to drops that have occurred in other states, including neighboring Ohio. The President's approval rating on the economy is split 46 - 47 percent, down from a positive 50 - 43 percent in July. His rating on health care is a decidedly negative 39 - 53 percent. The question was not asked in July.

"As is occurring elsewhere around the country, the President's declining job approval seems tied to the economy and health care," said Brown. "He is getting more of the blame as the recession lingers and the furor over his health-care plan is weighing on his overall rating."

Sen. Bob Casey remains the most popular statewide office-holder in Pennsylvania, with a 53 - 29 percent positive job approval rating.

From September 22 - 28, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,100 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed -- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, or call (203) 582-5201.

1. (If registered Democrat) If the 2010 Democratic primary for United States Senator were being held today and the candidates were Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak, for whom would you vote?
                     REGISTERED DEMS..
                     Tot    Men    Wom
 
Specter              44%    46%    43%
Sestak               25     30     21
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       2      1      3
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      1      3      -
DK/NA                28     20     33
 
TREND: (If registered Democrat) If the 2010 Democratic primary for United States Senator were being held today and the candidates were Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak, for whom would you vote?
                     REGISTERED DEMS.......
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28
                     2009    2009    2009
 
Specter              44      55      50
Sestak               25      23      21
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       2       1       1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      1       2       2
DK/NA                28      19      27
 
 
4. If the 2010 election for United States Senator were being held today and the candidates were Arlen Specter the Democrat and Pat Toomey the Republican, for whom would you vote?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Specter              42%    14%    73%    38%    41%    43%    48%
Toomey               43     78     12     41     48     39     46
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       1      -      1      1      -      1      1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      1      1      1      1      1      1      -
DK/NA                13      7     14     18     10     16      5
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Specter              45%    68%    40%    49%    40%    30%    30%
Toomey               43     19     47     39     46     55     50
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       4      1      1      -      -      1      1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -      -      -      1      -      1      2
DK/NA                 8     12     13     11     14     13     17
 
TREND: If the 2010 election for United States Senator were being held today and the candidates were Arlen Specter the Democrat and Pat Toomey the Republican, for whom would you vote?
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28  May 4
                     2009    2009    2009    2009
 
Specter              42      45      46      53
Toomey               43      44      37      33
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       1       -       1       2
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      1       -       3       1
DK/NA                13      10      14      10
 
 
5. If the 2010 election for United States Senator were being held today and the candidates were Joe Sestak the Democrat and Pat Toomey the Republican, for whom would you vote?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Sestak               35%     6%    68%    29%    34%    35%    45%
Toomey               38     74      8     34     45     32     32
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       1      -      -      2      -      1      1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      1      1      1      3      2      1      2
DK/NA                25     18     23     33     19     31     20
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Sestak               37%    59%    33%    40%    18%    30%    25%
Toomey               29     24     47     38     42     44     41
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       3      -      1      -      1      3      -
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -      -      1      2      1      1      2
DK/NA                30     17     18     19     38     21     32
 
TREND: If the 2010 election for United States Senator were being held today and the candidates were Joe Sestak the Democrat and Pat Toomey the Republican, for whom would you vote?
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28
                     2009    2009    2009
 
Sestak               35      35      37
Toomey               38      39      35
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       1       1       1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      1       1       3
DK/NA                25      23      23
 
 
8. Is your opinion of - Arlen Specter favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Favorable            42%    18%    67%    41%    41%    43%    38%
Unfavorable          46     76     20     45     52     41     51
Hvn't hrd enough     10      5     11     12      6     13      9
REFUSED               2      1      2      2      1      2      3
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Favorable            36%    62%    40%    49%    42%    35%    33%
Unfavorable          49     20     49     47     47     56     53
Hvn't hrd enough     12     17     11      2      9      8     12
REFUSED               3      1      -      2      2      2      2
 
TREND: Is your opinion of - Arlen Specter favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28  May 4   Mar 25  Nov 26  Aug 5
                     2009    2009    2009    2009    2009    2008    2008
 
Favorable            42      45      46      52      45      56      55
Unfavorable          46      44      39      34      31      23      26
Hvn't hrd enough     10       9      14      12      21      19      16
REFUSED               2       2       2       2       3       3       3
 
 
9. Is your opinion of - Pat Toomey favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Favorable            34%    57%    17%    29%    42%    26%    34%
Unfavorable          12      4     18     13     14     10     12
Hvn't hrd enough     53     37     64     57     44     62     54
REFUSED               1      2      1      1      -      2      -
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Favorable            29%    23%    49%    34%    33%    38%    33%
Unfavorable          14      9     13     17      7     14      7
Hvn't hrd enough     57     66     38     49     57     48     57
REFUSED               -      2      -      -      3      -      2
 
TREND: Is your opinion of - Pat Toomey favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28  May 4   Mar 25
                     2009    2009    2009    2009    2009
 
Favorable            34      34      27      20      14
Unfavorable          12      10      11      13       6
Hvn't hrd enough     53      56      61      67      78
REFUSED               1       1       1       1       2
 
 
10. Is your opinion of - Joe Sestak favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Favorable            21%    13%    25%    28%    25%    17%    21%
Unfavorable           8     13      3      7     11      4      8
Hvn't hrd enough     70     72     72     64     63     77     68
REFUSED               2      3      -      2      2      1      3
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Favorable            18%    25%    20%    45%    11%    13%    10%
Unfavorable           5     12      4     17      4      2      5
Hvn't hrd enough     73     63     72     38     85     83     85
REFUSED               4      -      4      1      -      2      1
 
TREND: Is your opinion of - Joe Sestak favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28
                     2009    2009    2009
 
Favorable            21      23      18
Unfavorable           8       7       5
Hvn't hrd enough     70      69      76
REFUSED               2       1       -
 
 
20. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Arlen Specter is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Approve              44%    19%    69%    43%    41%    46%    47%
Disapprove           48     77     21     47     54     42     48
DK/NA                 9      3     10     11      6     11      5
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Approve              38%    67%    45%    50%    43%    33%    34%
Disapprove           49     23     51     47     48     59     54
DK/NA                13     10      4      4      9      8     12
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Arlen Specter is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                             APPROVE.......
                                                             High    Low
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28  May 4   Mar 25  Nov 26  Oct 1
                     2009    2009    2009    2009    2009    2008    2009
 
Approve              44      47      51      56      52      62      44
Disapprove           48      46      39      36      33      25      48
DK/NA                 9       7       9       8      15      13       9
 
 
21. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bob Casey Jr. is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Approve              53%    39%    69%    54%    54%    53%    55%
Disapprove           29     47     12     27     33     25     36
DK/NA                18     14     19     19     13     23      9
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Approve              52%    58%    59%    61%    51%    43%    48%
Disapprove           36     18     32     23     33     41     26
DK/NA                11     24      8     16     16     16     26
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bob Casey Jr. is handling his job as United States Senator?
                                                             APPROVE.......
                                                             High    Low
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28  May 4   Mar 25  May 28  Mar 28
                     2009    2009    2009    2009    2009    2009    2007
 
Approve              53      53      56      55      52      56      46
Disapprove           29      25      21      21      23      21      18
DK/NA                18      21      23      24      25      23      35
 
 
22. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Approve              49%    17%    81%    50%    44%    54%    54%
Disapprove           42     74     12     39     47     37     44
DK/NA                 9     10      8     11      9     10      2
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Approve              54%    68%    52%    54%    41%    37%    41%
Disapprove           34     17     43     41     55     55     45
DK/NA                12     15      5      5      3      8     14
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president?
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28  May 4   Mar 25  Feb 12
                     2009    2009    2009    2009    2009    2009
 
Approve              49      56      62      66      61      63
Disapprove           42      37      31      29      30      22
DK/NA                 9       7       7       5       9      15
 
 
24. Looking ahead to the 2010 election for United States Senator, do you feel that Arlen Specter deserves to be reelected, or do you feel that he does not deserve to be reelected?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Yes/Deserves         37%    15%    60%    34%    35%    39%    38%
No/Does not          52     81     25     53     57     48     50
DK/NA                11      4     14     13      9     13     11
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Yes/Deserves         40%    53%    41%    39%    33%    29%    30%
No/Does not          53     28     53     51     56     58     60
DK/NA                 7     19      6     10     12     13     11
 
TREND: Looking ahead to the 2010 election for United States Senator, do you feel that Arlen Specter deserves to be reelected, or do you feel that he does not deserve to be reelected?
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  May 28  May 4   Mar 25  Feb 11
                     2009    2009    2009    2009    2009    2009
 
Yes/Deserves         37      40      42      49      38      40
No/Does not          52      49      43      41      41      43
DK/NA                11      11      15      10      20      17
 
 
25. Does President Obama's support of Arlen Specter for United States Senator make you more likely to vote for Specter, less likely to vote for Specter, or doesn't it make a difference?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
More likely          12%     2%    24%    11%     9%    15%    15%
Less likely          18     34      4     16     20     17     21
Doesn't make diff    68     62     71     72     70     66     64
DK/NA                 2      3      2      1      1      3      -
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
More likely          20%    23%     5%    10%    13%    10%     9%
Less likely          17      9     17     21     19     27     17
Doesn't make diff    61     69     76     68     68     63     69
DK/NA                 2      -      2      -      1      1      5
 
 
27. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Approve              46%    18%    77%    45%    42%    51%    50%
Disapprove           47     77     16     48     53     41     45
DK/NA                 7      5      7      7      5      8      5
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Approve              49%    70%    46%    47%    37%    32%    43%
Disapprove           42     27     47     49     56     58     50
DK/NA                10      3      7      4      7      9      8
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy?
                     Oct 1   Jul 22  Mar 25  Feb 12
                     2009    2009    2009    2009
 
Approve              46      50      56      59
Disapprove           47      43      36      26
DK/NA                 7       7       8      16
 
 
29. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling - health care?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Approve              39%    11%    67%    40%    38%    40%    43%
Disapprove           53     84     24     51     55     52     52
DK/NA                 8      4      9      9      7      8      5
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Approve              38%    58%    38%    43%    30%    34%    33%
Disapprove           50     37     53     52     66     59     58
DK/NA                11      5      9      6      4      7      9
 
 
30. Do you support or oppose President Obama's health care reform plan?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Support              41%    13%    73%    40%    42%    40%    46%
Oppose               47     81     15     44     48     46     49
DK/NA                12      6     13     16     10     14      5
 
                     Alghny Philly NthEst SthEst NthWst SthWst Cntrl
 
Support              42%    69%    47%    42%    28%    29%    34%
Oppose               48     20     42     43     63     56     54
DK/NA                10     11     11     14      9     14     12