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November 01, 2016

Undecided vote crucial as McGinty takes huge lead over Toomey in F&M survey

Politics Elections
082816_ToomeyMcGinty Matt Rourke/Jaqcueline Larma/AP

Pa. Sen. Pat Toomey (L) and 2016 Democratic challenger Katie McGinty (R).

With one week remaining before the 2016 Pennsylvania Senate election, Democratic challenger Katie McGinty has landed 12 points ahead of incumbent Republican Pat Toomey among likely voters in the latest poll conducted by Franklin & Marshall College.

In a poll of 863 registered Pennsylvania voters from Oct. 26-30, McGinty came out with a 43-33 lead among registered voters and a 47-35 lead among likely voters. A full 16 percent of those polled remained undecided in a race some believe could run late into the evening. 

McGinty's advantage — double her lead in the last F&M poll — comes after two televised debates in which the candidates sparred over hot button issues ranging from gun control, Donald Trump and law enforcement to trade, job creation, energy policy and climate change.

Considered one of the Senate's most endangered Republicans, Toomey remained distant from Trump throughout his re-election campaign, opting to emphasize issues such as protecting steel workers, promoting coal and natural gas development and eliminating the city of Philadelphia's sanctuary city policy.

Among surveyed voters in the F&M poll, Toomey is viewed favorably by just one in three people compared to half of registered voters who view him unfavorably. McGinty is viewed favorably by one in three people, but only one in three surveyed view her unfavorably.

More alarming for Toomey is that just one in four voters (29 percent) believe he is doing an "excellent or good job" as U.S. Senator, while half (54 percent) believe he is doing a "fair or poor" job. Another 28 percent feel he is doing a good enough job to be reelected.

During the debates, Toomey questioned whether McGinty possessed the independence and policy building skills to grow Pennsylvania's economy without raising the cost of living for the middle class. McGinty argued that Toomey has failed to bring significant results to Pennsylvania over six years and has become enmeshed with special interests.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Toomey for Senate campaign dismissed the F&M poll and questioned its methodology. 

“This poll is so laughably wrong, and so wildly off from every other poll that exists, that we will shed our long-standing policy of not commenting on public polls in order to call it what it is – worthless," said campaign spokesman Ted Kwong. "It’s silly that anyone would take it seriously.”

Franklin and Marshall's poll included 418 Democrats, 327 Republicans and 118 independents. The sample error for registered voters is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, while the sample error for the 652 likely voters is plus or minus 5.1 percent.

This isn't the first poll in this race to deviate from what has been reflected in other polls. In late August, an Emerson College poll put Toomey seven points ahead of McGinty, who had leads anywhere between one and seven points in other polls at the time.

The tracking poll at RealClearPolitics currently has McGinty with a 4-point lead over Toomey.

Where the state's still-undecided voters stand on key issues — and whethey they turn out to vote — could be the decisive factor Nov. 8.