5/13/2010 Staff

Specter-Sestak Race Tightens Down the Stretch

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	The Pennsylvania state flag The Pennsylvania state flag

The race between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination has tightened considerably, while clear frontrunners have emerged in the remaining primary races for senate and governor, according to the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll. The Pennsylvania primary election will be held Tuesday, May 18.

Sestak has a narrow advantage over incumbent Specter (38 percent to 36 percent) among Democrats who are likely to vote, with about one in four likely voters still undecided. Specter leads Sestak among all registered Democrats, 38 percent to 29 percent. Sestak's support among all registered Democrats has more than doubled since March, when Specter led, 32 percent to 12 percent. Sestak holds a larger advantage as the pool of voters gets smaller, meaning lower turnout favors his candidacy.

A sizeable proportion of undecided voters persist in the other primary races, although a clear frontrunner has emerged in each race. Dan Onorato (27 percent) has increased his share of the vote since March and has a clear advantage in the Democratic race for governor. Tom Corbett has maintained an advantage over Sam Rohrer in the Republican race for governor, 29 percent to 10 percent. In the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Pat Toomey holds a clear advantage over Peg Luksik, 28 percent to 1 percent.

In other findings:

  • Pennsylvanians continue to express pessimism about the economy. Four in 10 (39 percent) say they are financially worse off this year than last, and only three in 10 (29 percent) expect their personal finances to be better off a year from now. These figures have changed little since March.
  • Among registered Pennsylvanians, Toomey continues to lead both Specter (35 percent to 33 percent) and Sestak (29 percent to 28 percent) in the general election race for U.S. Senate. Registered Pennsylvanians cite the economy (26 percent) and health care (12 percent) as the most important issues in their vote for U.S. Senate.
  • Half of Pennsylvanians (50 percent) support the selling of state-owned liquor stores to private companies, while 37 percent are opposed. Nearly seven in 10 Pennsylvanians (69 percent) oppose an appointment system for state judges, while 24 percent are in favor.

The interviews were conducted May 3-9 at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College and were overseen by Director G. Terry Madonna, Head Methodologist Berwood Yost and Project Manager Angela Knittle. The data represent the responses of 1,023 adult residents of Pennsylvania, including 861 registered voters.

The sample error for the survey is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The sample error for registered adults is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, and is slightly higher for registered Democrats (plus or minus 4.9 percentage points) and registered Republicans (plus or minus 5.5 percentage points).

For complete results, visit www.fandm.edu/fandmpoll.

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