The latest Franklin & Marshall University poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race out today suggests that whichever candidate is chosen as the Democratic nominee May 18, the bitterly-fought primary could leave the party in a better position in the Fall.
According to the poll, both Rep. Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter are running neck-and-neck with likely Republican nominee Pat Toomey. Past polls have shown Toomey well ahead in a general election matchup.
Toomey has a 35-33 lead over Specter in the F&M poll, which was conducted May 3-9 and included 1023 registered voters. Toomey has a 29-28 lead over Sestak in the poll, which has a margin of error of 3.1%.
The Democratic primary is taking up a lot of airtime in Pennsylvania these days, with both candidates blanketing the airwaves with advertising and dominating the headlines. That could be partially responsible for the surge in support for both Democrats as voters start to think more about the fall race than they have to this point.
Toomey’s own primary — which he is expected to win easily — has been drowned out by the too-close-to-call Democratic race. That means the Democrats have been able talk about their issues without any contrast from Toomey or the GOP.
The latest numbers suggest Republicans might have a tougher go of it in Pennsylvania this fall then many expected, especially if Sestak were to win the nomination. Most observers have considered Specter the stronger general election candidate due to his long history in the state (and his past support from across the state when he ran as a Republican). But the F&M poll suggests Sestak could prove to be a tough foe for Toomey too.