- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2015

Republican incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Toomey leads a Democratic challenger by double digits in Pennsylvania, while former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, leads GOP Sen. Rob Portman in an early look at two crucial swing-state elections in 2016.

In a would-be rematch of the 2010 general election contest, Mr. Toomey leads former Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, 48 percent to 35 percent, according to the Quinnipiac poll released Monday. A solid plurality of voters — 49 percent to 24 percent — approve of Mr. Toomey’s job performance, while about six in 10 didn’t know enough about Mr. Sestak to form an opinion.

In Ohio, Mr. Portman — another first-term Republican senator — trails Mr. Strickland, 48 percent to 39 percent, though a plurality of Ohio voters, 49 percent to 23 percent, approve of the job Mr. Portman is doing.

Thirty-eight percent have a favorable view of Mr. Portman, compared to 18 percent who have an unfavorable one, while Mr. Strickland has a positive 49 percent to 29 percent favorability rating.

Pennsylvania and Ohio will be two key tests for Republicans in their bid to hold onto control of the Senate after 2016 — an election cycle in which they will largely be playing defense after a net gain of nine seats in the 2014 midterms. 

The U.S. Senate race in Florida, meanwhile, could be a battle of relative unknowns if GOP Sen. Marco Rubio ends up jumping into the presidential race later this month and follows through on past statements indicating he would not try to simultaneously seek re-election.

Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, who has declared his candidacy, trails Republican state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater in a potential matchup, 38 percent to 34 percent. Mr. Murphy leads Republican Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, 35 percent to 31 percent.

In other potential head-to-heads, Mr. Atwater leads Rep. Alan Grayson, 42 percent to 32 percent, and Mr. Lopez-Cantera leads Mr. Grayson, 33 percent to 32 percent.

But at least 58 percent of voters didn’t know enough about any of them to have formed an opinion.

From March 17-28, Quinnipiac surveyed:

• 1,087 Florida voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent;

• 1,077 Ohio voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent; and

• 1,036 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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