Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) leads a pack of Democratic candidates and potential candidates in the race for a Pennsylvania Senate seat, according to a new poll.

{mosads}The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a survey Wednesday showing Toomey leading former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) by 4 percentage points, 42 percent to 38 percent.

The two faced off in 2010, a wave election year for Republicans, when Toomey edged Sestak by 2 points.

That was a non-presidential election year, however, and Democrats are eyeing Pennsylvania as one of their top pickup targets heading into 2016. A GOP presidential nominee hasn’t won the state since 1988, and Democratic presidential candidates have consistently won there by comfortable margins. Democrats will likely need to flip the Pennsylvania seat if they hope to reclaim a Senate majority in 2016.

Nevertheless, Sestak has consistently clashed with establishment Democrats, and some are skeptical about his ability to topple an incumbent like Toomey. They would like to see another challenger emerge, although the Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey shows other potential candidates doing worse than Sestak in head-to-head match-ups with Toomey.

So far, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is the only other declared candidate. Toomey leads him 54 percent to 44 percent. Pawlowski suffers from low name recognition, with only 28 percent of Pennsylvanians saying they know who he is.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, former Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), and state Sen. Vincent Hughes, all of whom trail Toomey by between 9 and 11 points in the poll, are similarly unknown statewide.

PPP included in the poll former Gov. Ed Rendell, who has not been mentioned as having an interest in running for Senate, and found him trailing Toomey by 5  points, 46 percent to 41 percent.

Montgomery County Commissioner Chairman Josh Shapiro had been getting pressure from some national Democrats to run but has said he won’t.

Still, the PPP survey showed Toomey is vulnerable. Only 30 percent said they approve of the job Toomey is doing, compared to 37 percent who said they disapprove. In the same poll from January, Toomey was also underwater by 7  points.

Toomey will likely have a big fundraising advantage over his eventual challenger.

The Pennsylvania Republican was one of only a handful of incumbent senators to collect more than $2 million in the first quarter of 2015, bringing his total cash on hand to $7.3 million.

Sestak raised just over $300,000 in the first quarter, ending March with about $1.7 million in cash on hand.

The PPP survey of 799 registered Pennsylvania voters was conducted  May 21-24 and has a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.

Tags Joe Sestak Pat Toomey
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