Pennsylvania Polls Claim Pro-Life Toomey Lost Lead to Pro-Abortion Sestak

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 23, 2010   |   4:03PM   |   Harrisburg, PA

Two new polls of the Pennsylvania Senate race make the claim that pro-life candidate Pat Toomey lost his big lead to pro-abortion candidate Joe Sestak. Toomey had led in every poll from July through last week, but trails in two new surveys that come after Sestak launched his television advertising blitz.

Toomey’s lead grew to as much as 10 percent in a Rasmussen poll released on October 12, but new surveys from Morning Call and PPP claim Sestak has leads of one and three percent.

The PPP poll has been heavily criticized because the Democratic polling firm relied on a sample of voters that is more tilted towards the Democratic party than the turnout of Democrats in 2008, a banner year for Democrats.

With virtually every national poll showing Republicans will have a much better turnout in 2010 and Democrats seeing lower numbers, the expected turnout in Pennsylvania should not only favor Toomey but would make the PPP poll appear well out of step with the mood of Keystone State voters.

PPP has Sestak ahead of Toomey 46 to 45 percent, within the margin of error, but a more realistic sample of votes would likely have had Toomey leading by a couple of percentage points — which is more consistent with other polling data.

The new poll from Muhlenberg College for the Allentown Morning Call newspaper shows Sestek ahead of Toomey by a larger 44-41 percentage point margin with 15 percent still undecided.

The firm says it wouldn’t be the first time Sestak has come from behind to win an election, but critics say the poll’s low sample size of just 400 voters make it much less reliable than other polls, including Rasmussen’s and PPP’s that surveyed almost twice as many voters.

The Morning Call poll also has just 8 percent of its sample size as independent voters in a state with a significantly larger number of independents, who are trending Republican in this election.

In June, the National Right to Life Committee endorsed Toomey in his bid to replace pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter, who lost his effort to win the Democratic primary to Sestak.

“As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Pat Toomey had a solid pro-life record,” NRLC PAC director Karen Cross told at the time.

“Among his numerous pro-life votes, Pat Toomey voted to ban partial-birth abortions and voted for a bill that would prevent minor daughters from being taken across state lines for secret abortions without parental notice. Pat Toomey also consistently voted against federal funding of abortion,” Cross explained. [related]

On the other hand, his opponent, Joe Sestak, voted against pro-life legislation every chance he had, Cross said.

“Joe Sestak even voted to enact President Obama’s pro-abortion healthcare legislation, which will provide government funding for health plans that pay for abortion on demand, and will promote the rationing of lifesaving medical treatments,” Cross explained.

“Pat Toomey has proven his commitment to protect our most vulnerable citizens – our unborn children,” Cross said. “Pat Toomey’s pro-life record should earn him the support of all voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable members of the human family.”

With Pennsylvania voters — including Democrats and independents — having strongly pro-life views, the issue of abortion could turn the race in Toomey’s favor.