May 17, 2010 - Specter-Sestak Dem Primary Down To The Wire, Quinnipiac University Pennsylvania Poll Finds; Onorato Leads Dem Governor Primary

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The Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary goes down to the wire with U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak taking 42 percent of likely primary voters to Sen. Arlen Specter's 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted through Sunday night and released today.

With 16 percent undecided and 25 percent of those who do back a candidate saying they might change their mind, the race is too close to call.

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato remains far ahead of the field for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with 39 percent, more than his three major competitors combined, although 31 percent of voters remains undecided.

"The Sestak-Specter race is a dead heat and could go either way. Sen. Arlen Specter has the party organization behind him, which should help with turnout. But Congressman Joe Sestak could benefit from the relatively large group of undecided voters. Generally, incumbents don't do all that well with undecideds, who are more likely to vote for the challenger or not vote," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"And slightly more of Specter's voters than Sestak's say they might change their minds. Moreover, as we have seen elsewhere this spring, there is an anti-incumbent mood in the electorate and Specter, with 30 years in the Senate, is the ultimate incumbent."

In the Democratic primary, men back Sestak 46 - 41 percent, while women split with 41 percent for Specter and 40 percent for Sestak.

The winner of the Democratic Senate primary is likely to face former congressman Pat Toomey, who led the GOP primary race over Peg Luksik 60 - 9 percent in last week's Quinnipiac University poll.

In the race for Governor, Onorato gets 39 percent, followed by State Sen. Tony Williams with 11 percent, State Auditor General Jack Wagner at 10 percent and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel at 9 percent. In addition, 31 percent remain undecided and 53 percent of those backing a candidate say they still could change their minds.

"County Executive Dan Onorato is far ahead and appears headed for victory. If all the undecided voters went to one of the other candidates, Onorato could conceivably lose. But the odds of that kind of scenario are very, very, very long," said Brown.

The Democratic primary winner presumably will face Attorney General Tom Corbett, who led state Rep. Sam Rohrer 57 - 14 percent in last week's Quinnipiac University poll of likely GOP primary voters.

From May 12 - 16, Quinnipiac University surveyed 951 Pennsylvania likely Democratic primary voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points. The sample is drawn from registered voter lists based on people who have voted in recent elections.

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, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

1. If the Democratic primary for Governor were being held today, would you vote for Dan Onorato, Jack Wagner, Tony Williams or Joe Hoeffel? (If undecided q1) As of today, would you say that you lean a little more toward Onorato, Wagner, Williams or Hoeffel? (This table includes "Leaners".)
                     LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                     Tot    Men    Wom
Onorato              39%    39%    38%
Wagner               10     13      8
Williams             11     11     11
Hoeffel               9     10      8
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       -      1      -
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -      -      -
DK/NA                31     27     35
 
 
1a. (If express choice q1) Is your mind made up, or do you think you might change your mind before the primary?
                            LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                            CAND CHOICE GIVEN Q1...
                            CAND CHOICE Q1.........
                     Tot    DO     JW     TW     JH
Made up              46%    49%    42%    43%    42%
Might change         53     50     58     56     58
DK/NA                 1      1      -      1      -
 
 
2. If the Democratic primary for United States Senator were being held today, would you vote for Arlen Specter or Joe Sestak? (If undecided q2) As of today, would you say that you lean a little more toward Specter or Sestak? (This table includes "Leaners".)
                     LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                     Tot    Men    Wom
Specter              41%    41%    41%
Sestak               42     46     40
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       -      -      -
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -      -      -
DK/NA                16     13     18
 
 
2a. (If express choice q2) Is your mind made up, or do you think you might change your mind before the primary?
                            LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                            CAND CHOICE GIVEN Q2
                            CAND CHOICE Q2
                     Tot    AS     JS
Made up              74%    70%    78%
Might change         25     28     21
DK/NA                 1      1      1
 
 
3. Is your opinion of - Arlen Specter favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                     Tot    Men    Wom
Favorable            50%    52%    48%
Unfavorable          33     35     31
Hvn't hrd enough     11      8     12
REFUSED               7      4      8
 
 
4. Is your opinion of - Joe Sestak favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                     Tot    Men    Wom
Favorable            42%    47%    39%
Unfavorable          11     14      9
Hvn't hrd enough     43     36     48
REFUSED               4      3      4
 
 
5. Is your opinion of - Dan Onorato favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                     Tot    Men    Wom
Favorable            42%    44%    41%
Unfavorable           9      9      9
Hvn't hrd enough     45     43     46
REFUSED               3      3      3
 
 
6. Is your opinion of - Jack Wagner favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                     Tot    Men    Wom
Favorable            20%    25%    17%
Unfavorable           7      8      6
Hvn't hrd enough     70     64     75
REFUSED               3      2      3
 
 
7. Is your opinion of - Joe Hoeffel favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                     Tot    Men    Wom
Favorable            16%    18%    14%
Unfavorable           9     12      7
Hvn't hrd enough     73     68     76
REFUSED               2      1      3
 
 
8. Is your opinion of -- Tony Williams favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY DEM PRIMARY VOTERS
                     Tot    Men    Wom
Favorable            16%    16%    16%
Unfavorable          14     17     11
Hvn't hrd enough     68     65     70
REFUSED               3      2      3