On Eve of Pennsylvania Primary, Dem Senate Still Tight

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HARRISBURG, Pa.  — A poll released on the eve of Pennsylvania's primary shows the Democratic race for U.S. Senate still too close to call, while Dan Onorato remains ahead in the four-way race for the gubernatorial nod.

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak claimed 42 percent and fifth-term Sen. Arlen Specter had 41 percent among Democrats likely to vote, according to the Quinnipiac University survey results made public Monday.

Sixteen percent are undecided and one-quarter of those who favor one candidate over the other say they may still change their minds before casting ballots, the poll found.

More voters held favorable opinions of Specter — 50 percent — than Sestak, with 42 percent. But one-third held an unfavorable view of Specter, while 43 percent said they had not heard enough about Sestak, a second-term congressman, to form an opinion.

Onorato, Allegheny County's elected chief executive, claimed 39 percent in the battle for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams had 11 percent, state Auditor General Jack Wagner, 10 percent, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, 9 percent.

But 31 percent remain undecided. And at least half of the voters who named a favorite say they may change their minds.

"If all the undecided voters went to one of the other candidates, Onorato could conceivably lose. But the odds of that kind of scenario are very, very, very long," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the university's polling institute.

The statewide telephone survey of 951 Democrats was conducted between Wednesday and Sunday. The sampling error margin is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.