Pat Toomey is considered one of the more vulnerable senators up for reelection in 2016, but one new poll finds the Pennsylvania Republican leading possible Democratic challengers. A new survey from Harper Polling, a GOP firm, finds Toomey ahead by double-digits against three Democrats considering a bid against him. In addition, a total of 54 percent of likely voters say they have a favorable or somewhat favorable view of the first-term senator.
Toomey's 2010 opponent, Joe Sestak, isn't faring any better against his Republican rival this time around, with 53 percent supporting Toomey and 32 percent supporting Sestak while 15 percent remain undecided. Five years ago, Toomey bested Sestak by just two percentage points, one of the closest Senate races that year. Sestak, a former Philadelphia-area congressman, doesn't seem to have made much of an impression on Pennsylvania voters statewide, with 35 percent saying they don't have an opinion of him. Among those who do know him, the opinions are split, with 23 percent saying they have a favorable or somewhat favorable view and 22 percent saying they have an unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable view.
Against two other possible Democratic opponents, Toomey does about as well. Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski earns 30 percent support against Toomey's 54 percent, while Montgomery County commissioner Josh Shapiro earns 27 percent to Toomey's 55 percent. Both Pawlowski and Shapiro are virtually unknown throughout the state.
Toomey's relatively good standing in Pennsylvania, a solidly Democratic state on the presidential level, suggests the Republican and former Club for Growth president is benefitting from a more moderate tack on some issues like gun control. But Toomey has also cultivated a tough-on-crime record, from spearheading the effort to block a Justice Department nomination of Debo Adegbile, who defended convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, to a recent speech defending the police in the wake of riots in Baltimore.
Many people are talking about the dramatic tightening of the Pennsylvania Senate race between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak. But upon closer inspection, most of that apparent tightening seems to be a mirage.
During the Pennsylvania Senate debate on Wednesday night, Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak each tried to paint the other as too extreme to represent the Keystone state. Both candidates came well-armed with their talking points and were fairly well-matched rhetorically. Toomey was businesslike and bland, while Sestak spoke in hushed "more-in-sadness-than-in-anger" tones, with the occasional flash of indignation.
After some initial skepticism at a PPP poll that showed Democrat Joe Sestak one point ahead of Republican Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania Senate race (46% to 45%), another poll by Muhlenberg showed Sestak up three, 44% to 41%. That was enough to wake up conservatives.
Ben Smith reports: "The Emergency Committee for Israel, which has been pounding away at Democratic candidates -- notably Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania -- has launched a new independent expenditure PAC that can solicit unlimited contributions and and play even more directly in elections."
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, declares: "You can put Pennsylvania Senate back in the toss up category. Joe Sestak leads Pat Toomey 46-45 in our newest poll of the race, erasing the 9 point deficit he had in an August PPP survey."
Welcome. This is a regular feature I'll be offering every weekday, first thing in the morning. Basically, what I'll do is flag the most notable stories of the 2010 midterm campaign, and provide my two cents on what's really happening.
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Democratic congressman and Senate candidate Joe Sestak said this morning that he supports the constitutional right to build the Ground Zero mosque but declined to say whether it's insensitive to 9/11 families.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is campaigning for Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania today. Perhaps Bloomberg, an independent Republican with a strong pro-Israel record, is there to help cover up Sestak's tarnished record on Israel. But in reality, Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska with a "questionable" record on Israel, is perhaps the Republican Sestak admires most.