Republican hopes to hold the Senate are being bolstered by a Quinnipiac University poll showing GOP incumbents leading in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, three critical swing states.
“The numbers seem to be breaking the Republican way in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate, at least when it comes to the critical swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states,” according to the poll’s executive summary. “Noteworthy is Ohio where former Gov. Ted Strickland, who had an early lead but now trails Sen. Rob Portman (R.-Ohio) by 7 percentage points,” the poll found.
In Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio (R.-Fla.) leads Rep. Patrick Murphy (D.-Fla.) 50 percent to 37 percent and the senator leads the other leading Democrat in the race, Rep. Alan Grayson (D.-Fla.) similarly: 50 percent to 38 percent. While in Pennsylvania, Sen. Pat Toomey (R.-Pa.) over Democrat Katie McGinty 49 percent to 39 percent.
“Portman had trailed for much of the campaign, but now has moved clearly ahead of Democratic challenger Ted Strickland, a former governor.
“Many talking heads have suggested that with Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket, Republican Senate candidates might suffer,” Brown added. “But at least in these three key states, the Republican Senate candidates are running ahead of Trump and don’t seem to be hurt by their shared party label.”
“There’s a seeming paradox about the U.S. Senate race in Ohio. Democrat Ted Strickland, who will be 75-years-old next month, does best among young voters, beating incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman 49 percent 36 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old. Portman, who is 60-years-old, scores best among voters over 65 years old, beating Strickland 51 percent to 35 percent,” Brown said.
Brown said, “In Pennsylvania, incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey, who has led from the start, maintains a double-digit margin.”
Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said Trump is not hindrance to Toomey.
“Republicans, at least in Pennsylvania, can exhale. Toomey has a comfortable lead in his bid to keep this GOP Senate seat safe. A welcome development in the turbulent and polarizing landscape where Donald Trump roams,” he said.
In Florida, Democrats were looking to pick up the open seat left by the retirement of Rubio, but Rubio has retired his retirement plan and is seeking to be rehired.
Brown said the Quinnipiac University Poll finds Rubio in a very strong position.
“The breadth of Senator Rubio’s lead against Rep. Patrick Murphy, who has the backing of the Democratic leadership, is impressive. He has a 19-point margin among independent voters and scores 10 points better among Republicans than Murphy does among Democrats,” Brown said.
The Quinnipiac University survey was conducted June 30 to July 11. There were 1,015 Florida voters, giving that poll a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points; 955 Ohio voters with a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points and 982 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error 3.1 percentage points. Live interviewers called land lines and cell phones. The poll was directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D.