(CNN) – Republicans have the advantage in this year's battle for Pennsylvania governor and for one of the state's U.S. Senate seats, according to a new poll.
A Quinnipiac University survey of Pennsylvania voters released Thursday indicates that the leading GOP candidate, Attorney General Tom Corbett, remains ahead of each of the three top Democratic contenders by double digits in hypothetical general election matchups. The incumbent governor, Democrat Ed Rendell, is term limited and prevented from running for re-election this year.
According to the poll, in the Senate campaign Republican challenger Pat Toomey leads Sen. Arlen Specter 46 percent to 41 percent, with 12 percent undecided. The advantage for Toomey is just inside the poll's sampling error. Toomey trailed Specter in a Quinnipiac poll released a month ago. The two men have exchanged small leads since last autumn.
Toomey is a former congressman and former head of the Club for Growth, a limited-government and anti-tax organization. Specter, a five-term senator, switched parties from Republican to Democrat last spring. At the time of the party flip, he cited the difficulty in winning the Republican primary against Toomey as a factor.
"A Toomey-Specter race could continue swinging back and forth until November because most voters won't begin to focus on it until after Labor Day," says Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Toomey is unchallenged for his party's Senate nomination. The poll indicates that Specter leads Rep. Joe Sestak 53 percent to 32 percent in a Democratic primary matchup. Pennsylvania holds its primary on May 18.
According to the poll, President Obama's approval rating in Pennsylvania has dropped four points, to 45 percent, with 49 percent saying they disapprove of the job he's doing in the White House. Fifty-three percent of those questioned say they disapprove of the new health care law, basically unchanged from a month ago. Thirty-nine percent approve of the reform plan.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted March 30-April 5, with 1,412 Pennsylvania voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.