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April 05, 2016

Three weeks before Pa. primary, Clinton leads Sanders by 22 points

Race gets closer in Democratic Senate race

Politics 2016 Presidential Race
Hillary Clinton Elise Amendola/AP

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014.

The latest poll of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania shows that Bernie Sanders has a lot of ground to cover in the Keystone State if he wants to beat Hillary Clinton in the April 26 primary. Fifty-five percent of voters surveyed support Clinton to Sanders' 33 percent, according to Harper Polling.

Meanwhile, the Democratic race for U.S. Senate still shows former Congressman Joe Sestak in the lead, even though President Barack Obama endorsed his rival, Katie McGinty, last week. Forty-one percent of voters support Sestak, 31 percent go for McGinty, and 9 percent support John Fetterman, the unconventional mayor of Braddock.

Related story: New Pa. poll shows Clinton up 25 points over Sanders, Kasich three points behind Trump

In comparison, the polling company found last month that Sestak had 33 percent support, McGinty had 17 percent and Fetterman 15 percent. More voters have made up their minds now that voting is only three weeks away, but around one in five are still undecided.

Fetterman's biggest challenge is name recognition. Forty-two percent of voters had no opinion when asked if they found him favorable or unfavorable, and 66 percent said they had not seen, read or heard anything about the candidate recently.

Obama's endorsement of McGinty, which came two days before the poll was conducted, could potentially give McGinty a boost. Fifty-eight percent of voters said they were more likely to vote for McGinty after Obama's endorsement, while just 8 percent said it made them less likely.

McGinty, who served as secretary of environmental protection under former Gov. Ed Rendell and as Gov. Tom Wolf's chief of staff, also got an endorsement from Vice President Joe Biden. 

In contrast to a Republican race that's all about outsider candidates, Pennsylvania Dems are not so anti-establishment. Thirty-nine percent of them said they want a candidate "endorsed by the Democratic party in Washington" versus 28 percent who want "a candidate who is a political outsider."

Those pro-establishment leanings aren't great for Sanders, who literally wrote the book on being an outsider. However, both he and Clinton have strong favorability ratings among Democrats: 71 percent for him, 75 percent for her. 

Clinton appears to inspire more intense feelings both from her supporters and detractors, with a higher percentage of voters saying they find her "very" favorable or unfavorable compared to Sanders.

Finally, in the race for attorney general, the poll found that one-third of voters are undecided over who should replace Kathleen Kane. Thirty-three percent support Josh Shapiro, 17 percent support Stephen Zappala, and 16 percent support John Morganelli. Harper disclosed that it conducts survey research for John Rafferty, who is running for attorney general on the Republican side.

Harper Polling used landline phones to poll 603 likely Democratic voters on April 2-3. The margin of error was +/- 4 percent.