Polls: Republican Toomey Leading Pennsylvania Senate Race

Two new polls of the race to replace Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania show Republican nominee Pat Toomey building momentum against Democratic nominee Joe Sestak.

A Rasmussen poll of 750 likely voters conducted yesterday shows Toomey with a six-point lead (he’s ahead of Sestak 48-42). A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 407 likely voters conducted over the weekend shows Toomey’s lead to be even greater: he leads that poll 47-37.

Both polls echo the TPM Poll Average for the contest, which shows Toomey settling into a relatively comfortable lead as the general election campaign hits full swing. The average shows the Republican ahead 46.3-39.6. The previous Rasmussen poll, from August 16, showed Toomey leading 48-40. There is no other Reuters/Ipsos poll for direct comparison.

Previous Rasmussen polling has shown the race to be much closer, with Sestak trailing by very little or even leading in the hectic weeks surrounding his May 18 primary win over Specter.The trendline since spring has shown that since his primary win (and the massive amount of state and national media attention it afforded him), Sestak has remained behind Toomey:

Sestak showed himself to be a dangerous adversary to a likely winner (conventional wisdom-wise, that is) back in the primary. He appears to have mended fences with the Democratic establishment he ran against in May and now has the full support of his party. That means money and resources to take on Toomey in the next phase of the campaign. Still, back in the primary days, most national Democrats said Specter was the only man with a chance to beat Toomey in the general, and the polls show Sestak clearly has his work cut out for him if he wants to prove those observers wrong.