September 22, 2010 - Toomey Up 7 Points In Pennsylvania Senate Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters, Especially Independents, Disapprove Of Obama

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Republican Pat Toomey has hit the magic 50 percent mark as he leads Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak 50 - 43 percent in the race for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters released today.

Pennsylvania likely voters disapprove 56 - 40 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds. This first general election survey of Pennsylvania likely voters in this election cycle cannot be compared to earlier surveys of registered voters.

By a 52 - 43 percent margin, voters want a U.S. Senator who opposes rather than supports the president's policies and say 46 - 35 percent they want Republicans, rather than Democrats, to control the U.S. Senate after the November ballots are counted.

Toomey is winning 86 - 9 percent among Republicans and losing 87 - 7 percent among Democrats. He holds a commanding 54 - 36 percent lead among independent voters, which provides his current lead overall.

There is a very large gender gap in the Senate race, with Toomey ahead among male likely voters 58 - 37 percent and trailing among women likely voters 51 - 40 percent. The gender gap on the president's job performance is even wider with women approving 50 - 43 percent, while men disapprove by more than two-to-one, 66 - 31 percent.

"Pat Toomey is in a good place, ahead by 7 points with six weeks to go. But Congressman Joe Sestak has proven himself a tough competitor so it's too early to order the champagne," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Toomey's lead among independents is why he is ahead. With only 7 percent of the likely voters undecided and another 14 percent who are for a candidate saying they might change their mind, the battle for the Senate seat appears likely to come down to a relatively small number of voters and in the final weeks expect the campaigns to target their messages for those undecided and softly committed voters," Brown added.

The candidates are evenly matched when it comes to voter opinion: By a 44 - 31 percent margin, voters have a favorable opinion of Toomey, while 23 percent don't know enough about him to form an opinion.

Sestak gets a 44 - 34 percent favorability, while 20 percent haven't formed an opinion.

"Among likely voters, President Barack Obama is a drag on Sestak's candidacy," said Brown. "The president has a low approval rating and voters want their new senator to oppose, rather than support, the president's policies."

By 47 - 41 percent, likely Pennsylvania voters say Toomey rather than Sestak shares their values. And 41 percent of all voters say "shared values" is the most important quality they seek in a candidate, while 25 percent cite the ability to bring change to Washington. Another 23 percent are looking for someone who is honest and trustworthy and 7 percent want the candidate with the right experience.

Pennsylvania likely voters are strongly negative on the federal health care overhaul passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last March. By 59 - 34 percent, including 63 - 32 percent among independents, they give the plan thumbs down.

On the war in Afghanistan likely voters say the United States is doing the right thing fighting there, 49 - 42 percent. Support for the Obama policy is stronger among Republicans, who back the war 61 - 29 percent, while Democrats oppose it 56 - 37 percent. Independents support the war by a narrow 49 - 44 percent.

From September 15 - 19, Quinnipiac University surveyed 684 Pennsylvania likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 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, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

6. If the 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? (If undecided) If you had to choose today, would you vote for Sestak or Toomey? This table includes "Leaners".
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Sestak               43      9     87     36     37     51
Toomey               50     86      7     54     58     40
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       -      -      -      -      -      -
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -      -      -      -      -      -
DK/NA                 7      4      7     10      5      9
 
 
6a. (If candidate choice q6) Is your mind made up, or do you think you might change your mind before the election?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........
                            CAND CHOICE Q2
                     Tot    JS     PT
 
Made up              85%    84%    86%
Might change         14     15     14
DK/NA                 1      1      -
 
 
7. (If Sestak voter q6) Is your vote for Senator mainly for Sestak or against Toomey? (*Subgroup not large enough to report)
                     LIKELY SESTAK VOTERS..................
                     Tot    *Rep   Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
For Sestak           64            69     58     61     67
Against Toomey       30            25     35     36     24
DK/NA                 6             6      7      3      8
 
 
8. (If Toomey voter q6) Is your vote for Senator mainly for Toomey or against Sestak? (*Subgroup not large enough to report)
                     LIKELY TOOMEY VOTERS..................
                     Tot    Rep    *Dem   Ind    Men    Wom
 
For Toomey           73     77            65     73     73
Against Sestak       18     14            26     19     17
DK/NA                 9      9             9      9     10
 
 
9. Is your opinion of - Pat Toomey favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Favorable            44     71     12     46     51     35
Unfavorable          31      6     62     27     28     34
Hvn't hrd enough     23     22     24     25     20     28
REFUSED               2      1      2      2      1      2
 
 
10. Is your opinion of - Joe Sestak favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Favorable            44     20     78     34     41     49
Unfavorable          34     55      8     39     41     25
Hvn't hrd enough     20     24     12     25     17     23
REFUSED               2      2      2      1      1      3
 
 
11. Which one of these four qualities matter most in deciding how you vote for United States Senator; the candidate is honest and trustworthy, has the right experience, can bring about needed change to Washington, or shares your values?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Honest and
 trustworthy         23     21     26     24     23     22
Right experience      7      4     10      8      4     11
Can bring change     25     26     22     28     26     24
Shares values        41     48     38     34     42     39
DK/NA                 4      2      5      7      4      4
 
                     CAND CHOICE Q6
                     JS     PT
 
Honest and
 trustworthy         25%    21%
Right experience      7      6
Can bring change     24     25
Shares values        40     44
DK/NA                 4      4
 
 
12. Regardless of how you intend to vote, who do you believe most shares your values Joe Sestak or Pat Toomey?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Sestak               41      8     83     35     35     50
Toomey               47     78      8     52     55     36
NO DIFFERENCE(VOL)    2      2      2      2      3      1
DK/NA                10     12      7     11      8     13
 
 
13. Would you like to see the next United States Senator elected from Pennsylvania generally support Barack Obama's policies or oppose Barack Obama's policies?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              43      7     87     38     34     54
Oppose               52     89      9     53     62     39
DK/NA                 5      4      4      9      4      7
 
 
14. Would you prefer to have the Democrats or the Republicans control the U.S Senate next year, or doesn't it matter to you?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Democrats            35      2     84     28     27     46
Republicans          46     86      4     48     55     35
Doesn't matter       16     10     11     23     16     16
DK/NA                 2      2      1      1      2      3
 
 
15. Which type of candidate would you prefer to see as a United States Senator; someone with years of government experience or a government outsider?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Experience           34     28     57     19     26     45
Outsider             48     58     25     55     56     37
DK/NA                18     14     17     26     18     18
 
                     CAND CHOICE Q6
                     JS     PT
 
Experience           51%    19%
Outsider             30     65
DK/NA                19     16
 
 
23. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Approve              40      7     83     37     31     50
Disapprove           56     91     11     59     66     43
DK/NA                 4      2      5      4      2      7
 
 
27. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Approve              39      9     80     36     34     47
Disapprove           58     89     15     62     65     48
DK/NA                 3      2      5      2      1      5
 
 
28. Do you think the U.S. is doing the right thing by fighting the war in Afghanistan now, or should the U.S. not be involved in Afghanistan now?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
The right thing      49     61     37     49     56     41
Shld'nt be involved  42     29     56     44     36     49
DK/NA                 9     10      7      8      8     10
 
 
29. Do you approve or disapprove of the federal health care overhaul?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Approve              34      6     69     32     31     39
Disapprove           59     90     21     63     66     50
DK/NA                 6      4     10      5      3     11