A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday shows Kerry with 46 percent of voter support, with President Bush at 41 percent and independent Ralph Nader at 5 percent. That's Kerry's largest Keystone State lead in a three-way race since the Massachusetts senator emerged as his party's presidential pick in March.
A Quinnipiac poll last month showed Kerry and Bush deadlocked, 43 percent to 42 percent, with Nader at 7 percent.
The new survey of 1,577 registered Pennsylvania voters was taken July 6-11 — as Kerry announced his selection of Edwards, the charismatic North Carolina senator, as his running mate.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director Clay F. Richards said Edwards, who hails from a blue-collar background, is giving Kerry "a vital boost" in the economically struggling central and southwest parts of the state.
Kerry's rise "is in part due to his selection of John Edwards as his running mate, with a majority of voters saying the North Carolina senator will help the Democrat's chances of election," Richards said.
Bush, meanwhile, "is hampered by a negative approval rating and a majority saying going to war with Iraq was the wrong thing to do," Richards said.
Fifty-two percent of Pennsylvania voters gave the president a negative job approval rating, compared to 45 percent who are pleased with his performance in the White House. Moreover, voters believe, 51 percent to 43 percent, that going to Iraq was the wrong thing to do.
But voters were split almost evenly on which candidate would better handle the situation in Iraq, with 46 percent siding with Kerry and 45 percent with Bush. Voters said they think Bush would deal with terrorism more skillfully than Kerry by a margin of 51 percent to 39 percent, but believe the Democrat would do a better job on the economy, 53 percent to 39 percent against the Republican.
The Quinnipiac telephone survey carries a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
It also showed Republican Sen. Arlen Specter holding a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Rep. Joe Hoeffel in Pennsylvania's race for the U.S. Senate. Specter had 51 percent to Hoeffel's 36 percent in the Democratic-leaning state. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they still hadn't heard enough about Hoeffel, who announced his candidacy a year ago, to form an opinion of him.
Hoeffel "still is struggling to make his name known across the state," Richards said.