October 21, 2010 - Sestak Closes Gap In Pennsylvania Senate Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; But Voters Want Their Senator To Oppose Obama

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The race for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat is now a statistical dead heat with Republican Pat Toomey getting 48 percent of likely voters to 46 percent for Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 50 - 43 percent likely voter lead for Toomey, a former congressman, in a September 22 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

Toomey is beating Sestak 88 - 8 percent among Republicans and 56 - 35 percent among independent voters. But Sestak is winning 89 - 7 percent among Democrats. Thirteen percent of Toomey's voters and 9 percent of Sestak backers say they might change their mind before Election Day. The 5 percent of undecided voters includes 9 percent of independent voters.

"Pennsylvania is a blue state and Democrats there have begun to come home," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "They are more engaged than they were earlier in the race. This is not unusual, especially in off-year elections. Democrats often engage later in the campaign than do Republicans. The political environment is more favorable now for them, as evidenced by President Barack Obama's improved, but still decidedly negative, job approval rating."

President Obama gets a negative 44 - 53 percent job approval rating, compared to a negative 40 - 56 percent September 22.

There is a sizable gender gap in the Senate race, with Toomey leading 54 - 40 percent among men and Sestak ahead 53 - 41 percent among women.

"Sestak's lead among women has remained virtually unchanged over the past month, but Toomey's once 21-point lead among men has been cut by seven points," said Brown.

Pennsylvania likely voters' views of the economy are strongly tied to their candidate preference. Among the 14 percent who think the economy is improving, Sestak leads 84 - 14 percent, while Toomey leads 70 - 23 percent among the 35 percent who think it is worsening. Sestak leads 51 - 44 percent among the 49 percent who think it is remaining the same.

Despite the recent Democratic lean in Pennsylvania politics, likely voters say 51 - 43 percent that they want their new U.S. senator to oppose rather than support President Obama's policies. Voters also say 45 - 38 percent they want Republicans, rather than Democrats, to control the U.S. Senate next year.

"There is still a mood in the likely Pennsylvania electorate for change, which appears more likely to help Toomey than Sestak," said Brown. "Among the 33 percent of likely voters who say they are angry with the federal government, Toomey leads 77 - 17 percent.

"This is now a very close race in factors beyond the matchup. When voters are asked which candidate most shares their values they split 44 - 44 percent. Sestak is viewed favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 36 percent. Toomey gets thumbs up from 46 percent and thumbs down from 37 percent," said Brown.

From October 13 - 17, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,046 Pennsylvania likely 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, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

4. 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               46%     8%    89%    35%    40%    53%
Toomey               48     88      7     56     54     41
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       -      -      -      1      -      1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -      -      -      -      -      -
DK/NA                 5      3      4      9      5      5
 
                     RATING ECONOMY Q17   ANGRY WITH GOVERNMENT
                     Better Worse  Same   FedQ19
 
Sestak               84%    23%    51%    17%
Toomey               14     70     44     77
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       -      1      -      1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -      -      -      -
DK/NA                 2      7      5      6
 
TREND: 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..
                     Oct 21  Sep 22
                     2010    2010
 
Sestak               46      43
Toomey               48      50
SMONE ELSE(VOL)       -       -
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL)      -       -
DK/NA                 5       7
 
 
4a. Is your mind made up, or do you think you might change your mind before the election?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........
                            CAND CHOICE Q4
                     Tot    JS     PT
 
Made up              88%    90%    87%
Might change         11      9     13
DK/NA                 1      1      -
 
  
5. 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            45%    14%    80%    37%    43%    49%
Unfavorable          36     59      6     47     39     32
Hvn't hrd enough     18     24     14     14     18     18
REFUSED               1      2      -      2      1      2
 
TREND: Is your opinion of - Joe Sestak favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY VOTERS..
                     Oct 21  Sep 22
                     2010    2010
 
Favorable            45      44
Unfavorable          36      34
Hvn't hrd enough     18      20
REFUSED               1       2
 
 
6. 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            46%    78%    10%    55%    52%    40%
Unfavorable          37      7     72     29     33     42
Hvn't hrd enough     15     14     18     14     14     17
REFUSED               1      1      1      1      1      1
 
TREND: Is your opinion of - Pat Toomey favorable, unfavorable or haven't you heard enough about him?
                     LIKELY VOTERS..
                     Oct 21  Sep 22
                     2010    2010
 
Favorable            46      44
Unfavorable          37      31
Hvn't hrd enough     15      23
REFUSED               1       2
 
 
7. 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               44%    10%    85%    33%    40%    50%
Toomey               44     80      5     50     49     37
NO DIFFERENCE(VOL)    3      1      2      6      3      2
DK/NA                10     10      8     11      9     11
 
 
8. 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%     8%    85%    30%    38%    50%
Oppose               51     88     10     63     56     46
DK/NA                 5      4      5      7      6      4
 
 
9. 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            38      3     83     23     34     44
Republicans          45     86      5     50     49     40
Doesn't matter       14     10     11     23     15     13
DK/NA                 3      1      1      5      3      2
 
 
13. 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              44%    11%    85%    30%    39%    50%
Disapprove           53     87     13     64     57     47
DK/NA                 3      2      2      6      4      3
 
 
15. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Approve              40%    10%    77%    26%    36%    45%
Disapprove           55     89     17     68     60     49
DK/NA                 4      1      6      6      3      6
 
 
16. Would you describe the state of Pennsylvania's economy these days as excellent, good, not so good, or poor?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Excellent             -      -      -      -      -      -
Good                 17      9     22     17     16     17
Not so good          52     50     56     50     53     51
Poor                 30     41     19     32     29     31
DK/NA                 1      -      3      1      1      1
 
 
17. Do you think Pennsylvania's economy is getting better, getting worse, or staying about the same?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Better               14%     2%    24%    15%    13%    16%
Worse                35     51     17     39     34     37
The same             49     47     57     46     51     47
DK/NA                 1      1      2      -      1      1
 
 
19. I am going to mention four phrases and ask you which one best describes how you feel about the way the federal government works. Do you feel enthusiastic, satisfied but not enthusiastic, dissatisfied but not angry, or angry?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.........................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Enthusiastic,         4%     -      9%     1%     3%     6%
Satisfied            22      7     41     16     21     23
Dissatisfied         41     42     39     39     39     43
Angry                33     50     11     43     37     28
DK/NA                 -      1      -      -      -      1