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April 21, 2016

Polls: McGinty and Sestak running neck-and-neck in Pa. Senate race

Clinton leads Sanders by wide margin in primary race

Two new polls both show Hillary Clinton with a comfortable lead over Bernie Sanders in the Pennsylvania primary this Tuesday, but the really hot election to keep your eyes on in Pennsylvania is the Senate race. 

Clinton has a 13-point lead over Sanders among Pennsylvania Democrats in a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday and a 26-point lead in a Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday. 

The Franklin & Marshall poll also found Donald Trump leading with 40 percent support from registered Republicans, compared to 26 percent support for Ted Cruz and 24 percent for John Kasich. 

The race for Pennsylvania's seat in the U.S. Senate is much more of a nail-biter. The Monmouth poll shows Katie McGinty and Joe Sestak tied at 39 percent in the Democratic primary, while Braddock mayor John Fetterman has slipped to just 4 percent support. 

The Franklin & Marshall poll shows Sestak ahead, but the race is still close: Sestak has 33 percent support, McGinty has 27, and Fetterman has 8. Twenty-nine percent of voters haven't made up their minds yet. 

Sestak was the congressman for Pennsylvania's 7th District, but his relationship with the Democratic party has been notoriously icy. President Barack Obama has endorsed McGinty, who served as the secretary of environmental protection under Gov. Ed Rendell and as Gov. Tom Wolf's chief of staff.

Related story: Obama and Biden endorse Katie McGinty for Senate over Sestak, Fetterman

The race for Senate doesn't appear to be capturing many voters' interests. In the Monmouth poll, around half of those surveyed had no opinion on McGinty or Sestak, while 73 percent had no opinion on Fetterman.

Fetterman, an avid Sanders endorser, has questioned why Sanders has not endorsed him back or helped with fundraising.

"I'm sitting here with my corsage, waiting," he told Slate.

The Monmouth poll also asked voters what they would do if Trump became the Republican nominee. The results were similar no matter which Democratic candidate was running against him: 81 percent would vote for Clinton over Trump, and 78 percent would vote for Sanders over Trump.

Monmouth surveyed 302 likely Democratic voters over landlines and cellphones from April 17 to 19. It defined a "likely" voter as someone who has voted in both of the last two general elections, voted in one of the last two primary elections or has been registered to vote since 2014. The margin of error is +/-5.6 percent. 

Franklin & Marshall surveyed 510 registered Democrats and 549 registered Republicans. It notified them by letter and allowed them to complete the survey either on the phone or online. The margin of error is +/- 4.2 percent for Democrats and +/- 4 percent for Republicans.