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Can Pat Toomey Win?



A new poll suggests that former Rep. Pat Toomey is in the game in next years' Senate race. Photo by Carolyn Kaster of the AP

For months, the prevailing wisdom among smart strategists has been that former Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Toomey (R) can't win the Senate seat in 2010 regardless of whether Sen. Arlen Specter or Rep. Joe Sestak is the Democratic nominee.

Heck, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) said as much publicly. "I don't think there is anybody in the world who believes [Toomey] can get elected senator there," he told Politico in late April.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University suggests that theory may not be entirely accurate; Specter and Toomey are in a virtual dead heat in a hypothetical general election and among critical Independent voters, Toomey actually leads Specter 46 percent to 42 percent.

So, can Pat Toomey get elected to the Senate?

Maybe.

Toomey's greatest advantage in this race is the near-certitude of a nasty primary fight between Specter and Sestak.

The race has already taken a negative turn and, if past if prologue, will stay that way between now and when voters vote next April.

A look inside the Q poll suggests that Toomey's rise -- he was behind by 20 points in a May Quinnipiac survey -- is largely fueled by Specter's collapse among independents and Republicans.

Toomey leads Specter by four points among political independents and 71 points among self-identified Republicans. Compare that to the May numbers when Toomey led Specter by 56 percent among Republicans and Specter held a nine-point edge among independents.

Given that independents are critical to any politician's winning formula in Pennsylvania, Specter's fade of late is worth noting especially given that independents are most likely to be alienated by Specter's expected move to the ideological left to cut off Sestak's primary challenge.

The Democratic primary (and the lack of one for Toomey) also provides him with two things he desperately needs to have a chance next November: time and money.

Toomey collected $1.6 million over the past three months, a surprisingly strong total given that he was forced to beat back rumors for much of that period that establishment Republicans didn't believe he could win and were shopping for another candidate.

Assuming he can keep that fundraising pace up, and, with no serious primary challenge on the horizon, he should, then Toomey -- thanks to the Sestak-Specter primary -- will be able to begin shaping a more centrist image in the minds of the Pennsylvania voting public.

Toomey has already begun moving to the middle in subtle ways; he penned an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in May entitled "Welcome to Our Tent" in which he argued for a broadening of the Republican party, for example.

What remains to be seen is how much work Toomey can do to soften his image before the Democratic primary concludes next April.

Toomey allies note that while there is a sense in Washington that he is too conservative for the state, polling suggests that average Pennsylvanians simply don't feel that way. In the Q poll, just 10 percent of respondents said Toomey was too conservative while four percent said he was too liberal and 38 percent thought he was "just about right". A whopping 54 percent didn't know enough about Toomey to offer an opinion, a data point that suggests there is room for the Republican to positively define himself.

That said, Toomey made any number of controversial (and conservative) statements during his time as the head of the Club For Growth that either Specter or Sestak are sure to remind voters of during the general election campaign.

But, as the Q poll does well to remind us, campaigns (and candidates) matter and, in politics, there is no such thing as a foregone conclusion.

Is Toomey still an underdog next fall? Without question. Does that mean he can't win? Absolutely not.

For more, check out our latest Friday Senate Line about the 10 races most likely to switch party control in 2010.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 22, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Fix: Thune Enters Stage Right
Next: The Most Important Number in Politics Today

Comments

Excellent metaphor, kevrob. As a journalist, Fix has to keep the opposition in the picture or there is no friction.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 23, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

So hey how bout that Mitch Daniels, huh?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 23, 2009 2:23 AM | Report abuse

The obvious counter to Toomey's improvement in the matchup with Specter is to elect Sestak in the primary. There is no downside to this. Get rid of Toomey and Specter at one stroke.

Cillizza certainly does try to talk up Republicans a lot, but maybe it's just because he loves the horse race, and wants to give the underdog a head start.

Posted by: kevrobb | July 22, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Fix is writing a lot about the opposition, and they really aren't doing much to warrant writing about them. This reduces Fix to repeating things shopped by flacks and pr people. Each day brings another improbably excited piece predicting great things from another Republican bravely sticking his wet finger out of the fox hole to see if the wind has changed yet.

It hasn't.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 22, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

n every election involving a Democrat incumbent, Republicans should chant a simple mantra,
"Al Franken, ACORN, Al Franken, ACORN, Al Franken..."

==

Yeah, chanting "socialism" is working so well, isn't it.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 22, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Not only are the articles 2:1 about the GOP, they're overwhelming puff pieces. Reading the tea leaves and séeing a GOP comeback isn't even spin, it's propaganda. Reporting Palin whining as straight news is propaganda. Puffing up some boring nonentity as the next GOP savior is propaganda.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 22, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

'Since when is The Fix spelled F-O-X? All Republicans all the time? Are you aiming for Drudge links, Chris, like Politico?

Enough with publicizing a party with 22% of voters. What's up with the Democrats and the possibility of positive news?

Posted by: PoliticalPragmatist | July 22, 2009 2:54 PM
___
Be thankful it's not another "Phalin in 2012," "GOP comeback" or "Chip (Barack the Magic N_gro CD) Salsman" post...'

***************************************
Chris,

It's a rare thing that I actually join in a criticism, but it had actually occurred to me earlier that, excepting the Prez, your articles have recently been about 2-to-1 about Republicans rather than a 50-50 mix of both parties.

Sympathy for the underdog? So many Republican scandals? Other? Bears thinking about, no?

Posted by: sverigegrabb | July 22, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Toomey can't win. The polls are close now because people are ticked with Specter. The reason sanctorum and bush and other noted conservatives backed Specter over Toomey the last time is that they knew Toomey would get his clock cleaned by the Democrats. We'd have Sen. Hoeffel in DC now. Toomey and his Club for Growth have been a failure. No candidate backed by the club has won. When Specter switched, the PA GOP immediately went running to Tom Ridge to get him to run. That about says it all about Toomey's chances, even in his own party.

Posted by: mikel7 | July 22, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Since when is The Fix spelled F-O-X? All Republicans all the time? Are you aiming for Drudge links, Chris, like Politico?

Enough with publicizing a party with 22% of voters. What's up with the Democrats and the possibility of positive news?

Posted by: PoliticalPragmatist | July 22, 2009 2:54 PM
___
Be thankful it's not another "Phalin in 2012," "GOP comeback" or "Chip (Barack the Magic N_gro CD) Salsman" post...

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 22, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes. Toomry can and will win. In every election involving a Democrat incumbent, Republicans should chant a simple mantra,
"Al Franken, ACORN, Al Franken, ACORN, Al Franken..."

Posted by: greg3 | July 22, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Who's prettier?
Lassie
Rin Tin Tin
Balto
Beethoven

Same thing...

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 22, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

This topic seems used up. How about a poll?

Who is prettier? Rank order, please!

Michelle Bachmann
Linda Chavez
Maureen Dowd
Jennifer Granholm
Valerie Jarratt
Peggy Noonan
Sarah Palin
Kathleen Parker

State whether you consider yourself a liberal, a moderate, or a conservative and we can attempt a correlation. If you believe that you are choosing without regard to political persuasion, state your reason (e.g.;"I like redheads", or "she reminds me of my high school sweetheart" and your protest will be considered by the Higher Authority).


Posted by: MoreAndBetterPolls | July 22, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

On the topic at hand: I suspect Toomey's views are still not that well known in much of Pennsylvania. Once they are, he'll be viewed as an even more dogmatic ultra-conservative than Santorum, and he'll go down in flames even worse than Ramblin' Rick did.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 22, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Fix
As part of an ongoing effort to foster real conversation in the comments section, let me plead that we keep comments to the topic at hand rather than simply posting links on whatever is on your mind.

Gosh, Chris, when Sarah Palin refused to answer journalist questions and instead talked about what she wanted, the 'wingers hailed her as a heroine. That's how they play.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 22, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"DDAWD, you needed to read all through fivethirtyeight.com's entry for this poll, because at the end he dismisses it. "Ultimately, I'd still rate either Democrat as about a 2:1 favorite over Toomey, this poll not withstanding.""

Quinnipac published a poll, not a prediction. There's still a long time before the election. Silver isn't dismissing the poll. He is saying that things will change between now and then, mainly that people will get to know Toomey and learn that he is too conservative for them.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 22, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

DDAWD, you needed to read all through fivethirtyeight.com's entry for this poll, because at the end he dismisses it. "Ultimately, I'd still rate either Democrat as about a 2:1 favorite over Toomey, this poll not withstanding."

I live on the Main Line. Philadelphia's Republican suburbs are now Democratic: I have Democrat majorities in my school board and my township commissioners. I'm a voter in the "Permanent Republican Majority" jiggered 6th district, but I will have a Democrat as my congressman next time out. My governor is a Democrat, both my senators are Democrats (yep). We just jettisoned a conservative Republican Senator and we went big for the Democratic ticket in this last election. There are 800,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in PA.

Locally a government-is-evil guy like Toomey can get elected, but NOT statewide. That time has passed.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 22, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1:

Good point. Assuming I moved to PA in time for the primaries, and Toomey was a shoe-in, I would vote in the Dem primary for whomever was polling worse against Toomey : )

Posted by: JakeD | July 22, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think this can be hyped as a legitimate race for more than a few months, but hey you've got to write something right?

Toomey can win a Republican primary and that's it. The polling by Q assumed equal representation of the (R) and (D) populations. This is not the case. Sure Specter is weak, but as Toomey becomes more known even he could win. I doubt Specter will even win the primary for the Ds though.

Posted by: theobserver4 | July 22, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

theamazingjex writes
"That poll had equal numbers of democrats and republicans. However Democrats are about 15% more of the electorate then Republicans in Pennsylvania these days."


I think you may be overestimating the number of Dems. Going back to last year, a lot of independent voters switched registration in order to vote in the Dem primary - the GOP had wrapped up their nominee by the time of the PA primary.

Current reporting of Dem & Repub numbers in PA seems to be based on voter registration - which is not necessarily a valid indicator of how they will vote next year. Having said all that, it seems that the Quinnipiac poll has oversampled Repubs relative to Dems, I'm just not convinced the gap is as large as you think.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 22, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

It's hard for me to believe that Toomey could win a general election. My 84-year-old father, considerably more to the right than I am, plans to vote for Sestak in the primary, and the winner of the Democratic primary in the general election.

Bsimon's right; Toomey has one thing in common with Sarah Palin. As people got to know more about her, the positives went down and the negatives went up. Toomey will find the same thing happening.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | July 22, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

That poll had equal numbers of democrats and republicans. However Democrats are about 15% more of the electorate then Republicans in Pennsylvania these days. If we take equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, then it looks the GOP could win in D.C. too. What that poll actually means is that Specter is leading Toomey by about 12%.

Almighty Fix, you are such a sharp observer of all things political. How could you miss such a giant goof?

Posted by: theamazingjex | July 22, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The registration process in Pennsylvania is quick and easy, and there are a variety of ways you can register. In this section, you will find the information you need to register to vote in Pennsylvania, at least 30 days in advance of the election, as well as links to voting registration forms and applications.

http://www.dos.state.pa.us/voting/lib/voting/02_voter_registration_applications/onlinevoterregformblank.pdf

Posted by: JakeD | July 22, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Short answer is yes, Toomey could conceivably win. This poll is odd in that it shows Specter with a 2 to 1 lead over his most likely rival in the Democratic primary. I suspect that once likely PA Dem primary voters digest this poll and others like it, should more be forthcoming, Specter may face a more severe challenge in the Dem primary.

At the moment, bottom line seems to be that Arlen's gift to PA Democrats has been to burden them with an extremely weak candidate for the US Senate.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | July 22, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1:

We've already donated to his campaign. I doubt that he needs us there before the primary ; )

morning135:

My wife and I were vacationing.

Posted by: JakeD | July 22, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

"of course Pat Toomey can win. I'm even ready to move to Pennsylvania if that would help."


Pack your bags, he's going to need your help.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 22, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Upon further reflection, maybe you meant that Specter needs to win suburban Philly in a primary. You're right that that would be a tall order.

And JakeD is back! Missed you!

Posted by: morning135 | July 22, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

I'm looking forward to the day (and you know it's coming, barring something completely unexpected) when you write an article entitled, 'The Rise of Sestak'!

Posted by: sverigegrabb | July 22, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

On topic, of course Pat Toomey can win. I'm even ready to move to Pennsylvania if that would help.

Posted by: JakeD | July 22, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"Toomey's got to win suburban Montgomery and Delaware Counties in a primary. Tall order, I'd say."

Tall order? Why? This is a Republican primary, not a general election. And what about Pittsburgh, is she not important? I don't know the numbers but you forget that suburban Philly is a Dem stronghold - even if there are many voters there I doubt many are turning out for this primary...

Posted by: morning135 | July 22, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

We've seen this movie many times before in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania throughout the last several election cycles. GOP candidates poll close enough that they actually think that they're competitive. Meanwhile, the media tries to hold on to the notion that these are "Classic bellweather states" (particularly Pennsylvania) and then the election rolls around the Dems win by 10 points or more. Toomey has not shot here.

Posted by: jbentley4 | July 22, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, I don't see that explanation in the poll. All they tell us is they polled equal #s of self-identifying Democrats and Republicans, and a smaller number of self-identifying Independents. There are no details about how many people were sampled in each section of the state. If you add up Toomey's percentages in question 5 and divide by 7, you get 43.8%. If you do the same for Specter you get 45.1% I think that's how they did it.

There is also nothing that reflects that there are 800,000 more registered Democrats in PA than there are registered Republicans. And there is nothing about weighting the sections according to the % of voters. Was 50 % of the sample from the Philadelphia area? That's where about 50% of the votes come from. Maybe more in the next election.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 22, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"I don't know what to make of the Quinnipiak polling technique. Fix, can you explain to us how they find/compose their sample? "

538.com has a posting on this.

"I'm inclined to take this poll mostly at face value, in terms of how things would play out if an election were held today. Quinnipiac is a good polling firm and have been running surveys in Pennsylvania for a long time. The party cross-tabs looked potentially a little bit funky to me, so I re-ran the numbers using 2008 election splits (D 44, R 37, I 18), but it didn't help Specter much -- his lead went from 45-44 to 46-43."

So he is vouching for the poll and he doesn't hesitate to tear into a poll he finds lacking.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/07/arlen-specter-just-cant-shake-pat.html

Posted by: DDAWD | July 22, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

margaretmeyers-
I think you have it backwards - they polled the whole state, then segmented the sample by region to get their breakouts. Those segments are smaller & thus have a higher margin of error than the sample overall.

Here's what they say about their sample:
"Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,173 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. The survey includes 511 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points and 512 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points."

What that also means is that only 150 respondents are used to determine what independents think of Specter v Toomey, so take that 46 to 42 as being a vague guess, at best.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 22, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Since when is The Fix spelled F-O-X? All Republicans all the time? Are you aiming for Drudge links, Chris, like Politico?

Enough with publicizing a party with 22% of voters. What's up with the Democrats and the possibility of positive news?

Posted by: PoliticalPragmatist | July 22, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what to make of the Quinnipiak polling technique. Fix, can you explain to us how they find/compose their sample?

I'm just a Mom, but a flaw that I immediately see in this poll is that the statewide favorable/unfavorable % is generated by adding the favorable/unfavorable % recorded in each of 7 sections of the state then dividing the total by 7. Has anyone told Quinnipiac's pollsters that over half the voters in the state live in Philadelphia and her suburbs? The result is that Toomey's winning %s, garnered in a lot of lightly populated sections of the state, carry as much weight as Specter/Sestak's %s garnered from the most densly populated area of the state. Hence the Republican with a lot of extremely fringe policies is breathing down the neck of the Democrats.

As they say, you can get a statistic to back-up just about any position. Did you hear that 100% of the people in my cubical voted for Obama in 2008? Astounding!

Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 22, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/07/21/DI2009072102508.html

As long as we aren't going to stay on topic (an uninteresting topic at that)...

Any of you see this chat by poker pro Greg Raymer? It's about the efforts of the Poker Players Alliance, a poker player lobby, to protect online poker. One of the main villains in this story is a rider attached to the Safe Ports Act of 2006 which made it tougher to conduct transactions between banks and online poker sites. It was a pretty poorly written law and many sites still accept US players.

Any thoughts on the legal issues or poker itself. I'm a pretty avid player, but without online poker, I could never have afforded to get into it. I'm skilled enough to play at the casinos now, but when I started, it was prohibitively expensive to use those places as training grounds. Online, you can play with as little as a dollar.

For me, poker has meant that I can afford to visit my family more often, that I can get my car repaired when stuff breaks down, that I can afford to eat healthier. I don't plan to make a career out of it, but as someone who currently makes very little, it does offer me a great deal of financial freedom.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 22, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Chrisfox 8, you may be in error in using the term mind. To my knowledge, minds don't fuction like "da king's" and a few others.

Toomey's got to win suburban Montgomery and Delaware Counties in a primary. Tall order, I'd say.

Posted by: NotBubba | July 22, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"Toomey or not Toomey, that is the question". Perhaps its past time to send Specter and Toomey out to pasture. Come to think of it, perhaps the King of Zook should join them.

Posted by: NotBubba | July 22, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

As part of an ongoing effort to foster real conversation in the comments section, let me plead that we keep comments to the topic at hand rather than simply posting links on whatever is on your mind.

==

You could ban two posters here and go a long way to keeping things on target.

Need I name them?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 22, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

It'd also be nice if Obama himself had the first clue what's in the bill:


During the call, a blogger from Maine said he kept running into an Investors Business Daily article that claimed Section 102 of the House health legislation would outlaw private insurance. He asked: “Is this true? Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?” President Obama replied: “You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about.” (quote begins at 17:10)


Hey, Obama, did you miss the last six months of open debate on health care? Bill Scher can catch you up!

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 22, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Chris. Maybe you could ban repeat offenders. Because you know there is one poster who will never respect your wishes. And it ain't me.

Posted by: drindl | July 22, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Toomey is going to have a hard time convincing independents that Sestak, a retired Navy admiral, is a "lefty."

We need more people in Congress who have done something other than politics for their entire lives.

I think Sestak will take out Spector and then crush Toomey in the general election.

Posted by: Gallenod | July 22, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Jeezus, Cilizza, do you think you could stop licking republican boots for 5 minutes?

Toomey is a loser, will never beat either Sestak or Specter in a million years.

Posted by: drindl | July 22, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Folks,

As part of an ongoing effort to foster real conversation in the comments section, let me plead that we keep comments to the topic at hand rather than simply posting links on whatever is on your mind.

Thanks,
Chris

Posted by: Chris_Cillizza | July 22, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

What an amazingly topsy-turvy alice in wonderland world wingers live in, where all reality is seen through a funhouse mirror.

A democratically elected president is overthrown by a military coup, a dictator imprisons his supporters and suspends the constitution, and he sees it exactly the opposite.

I'm sure if Hitler were alive today, this guy would be worshipping at his feet.

Posted by: drindl | July 22, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama: 'Time for Talking is Over' But I Have No Idea What's in This Bill
Just in case you have any illusions that the health care reform Obama's pushing is meant to be constructed with anything other than reckless abandon and just enough haste and favors to get the government-run plan running for the "greater good," enjoy these tidbits from last night's conference call with liberal bloggers.

First, as the boss pointed out this morning (in a blog post that may soon be making its appearance in a White House press briefing), Obama thinks the "time for talk is through."

It's not the first time he's acknowledged that the best way to get his health care reform passed is if we talk about the details as little as possible, and pass it as fast as possible. At a health care townhall-style meeting arranged by the White House in Virginia, he offered unprompted that it is his greatest desire to rush the process:


And for those who say, well, you know what, this is something that is very complicated so we shouldn't rush into it -- that's what happens in Congress all the time. They have hearings, they write white papers, and then suddenly the lobbyists and the special interests start going at it, and the next thing you know, another 10 years has gone by and we still haven't done anything. That's not what's going to happen this time. I am going to keep on pressing until we get it done this year. All right.


Indeed, lobbyists and special interests can have influence if the process is delayed, just as the liberal special interests who wish the legislation passed can do their part to push it through without delay. But what Obama and the rest of the liberals who insist on rushing never mention is that the delay also offers voters a chance to weigh in, perhaps in person over August recess when representatives are at home. That is powerful input, and dangerous for Obama whose extremely expensive approach with dubious results is running into increasing public opposition.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 22, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Fix, please, limit yourself to naming just one "Republican We Should Keep Our Eye On" a day.
Giving us two Conservative Darlings, Thune and Toomey, in one day just means you are going to run out of horribles to parade that much faster. Which one of these guys has the smaller constituency? Lucky for Thune, Toomey doesn't even HAVE a constituency.


Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 22, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

In Honduras, millions tremble as exiled would-be dictator Manuel Zelaya threatens to overturn the constitutional structure once and for all. After the elected government of Honduras threw Zelaya out in order to prevent him from forcing through a false referendum that would place him in power indefinitely, the United States backed Zelaya. Obama called Zelaya's removal a coup; Clinton has implied that U.S. aid to Honduras is contingent on Zelaya's reinstatement.

Encouraged by U.S. interference, rapist, murderer and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has pursued Zelaya's coup strategy -- he's now calling for a referendum to seek his own illegal re-election. Obama's reaction? Silence -- the same deafening silence he exhibited while enduring Ortega's anti-American diatribe at this year's Summit of the Americas.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 22, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. bsimon and reason5 have made the points I would have made. But just to expand a little on bsimon's post, these polls right now are all about Specter (and to a small extent, about the Ed Rendell's abysmal popularity right now). Probably 54 percent don't know much about Sestak either. Toomey, at least, has run for statewide office before and has a little name recognition.

Toomey would have had a great chance if Specter had run as an Independent.

Posted by: mnteng | July 22, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Having come into office with an ambitious agenda to remake America, Barack Obama is discovering that time is not his friend. According to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, Obama's approval rating has dropped by nine points, down to 55 percent from where it was when he first entered the White House six months ago.

On its own, a nine-point drop over that period of time does not seem like a cause for much concern, especially when a majority of the country continues to approve of the job he is doing. But there are plenty of warning signs within the data, on its own and measured against other presidencies.

A 55 percent approval rating at this point in time puts him in 10th place over all among presidents who have served since Gallup began tracking presidential approval and disapproval in the 1940s. He is less popular than both Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush were at the same period—and they both lost their bids for a second term.

The decline in Obama's job approval number is matched, overmatched really, by a significant increase in the number of people who disapprove of the job he is doing as president. That number is up 16 points—to 41 percent—from the first time the survey was taken during the Obama presidency.

The decline in Obama's approval numbers is being driven by a lack of confidence in the way he is handling four key domestic issues: the economy, taxes, the aforementioned healthcare, and the federal budget deficit. And, says Gallup, "The biggest drop has been on his handling of the economy, down 12 points since February; his disapproval is up 19 points."

Libs and economics. funny huh?

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 22, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Maggots, I put my money on Specter as well. Agreed.

Posted by: reason5 | July 22, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The big dispute over Specter vs. Sestek lies on labor & political opportunism. Sestek will have these major arguments against Specter, plus his years as a Republican whenever he has voted conservatively over the past 30 years. I wonder if Pat Leahey will interject himself in this race on Specter's behalf. When he was the chair of judiciary and worked with Leahy, they formed a good relationship. But Sestek will hammer Specter on political opportunism & votes on labor issues.

However, when this primary is over labor will then unite behind the Democratic nominee to take on Toomey. If the nominee is Specter, Toomey will have to really hammer home the fact that Specter is a political opportunist to try to get votes from democrats & the support of the majority of independents. Toomey has the conservative base lined up and ready to vote for him. If the nominee is Sestek, Toomey will have to carve him as a lefty and hope to win the independent vote. Toomey, either way, is not the favorite to win this race. I still think it would make it even more interesting if Specter had switched from a Republican to an Independent.

Posted by: reason5 | July 22, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Pennsyvania overwhelmingly rejected Santorum and has become more purple in the years since - I don't see them going for Toomey.

Posted by: DROSE1 | July 22, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Didn't I hear political wisemen tell us last year that Obama would be so damaged from his primary fight with Clinton that it would hurt him in the November election?

I'll put my money on Spector, thank you. He is the ultimate political survivor.

Posted by: maggots | July 22, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Joe Sestak's job just got a whole lot easier...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | July 22, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"A whopping 54 percent didn't know enough about Toomey to offer an opinion, a data point that suggests there is room for the Republican to positively define himself."


It also suggests there is room for him to be negatively defined by his opponents.

I'll go a little farther and say that if 54 percent of respondents don't know enough about Toomey to offer an opinion, a bit of doubt is cast on the opening data point that "in a hypothetical general election and among critical Independent voters, Toomey actually leads Specter 46 percent to 42 percent."

My expectation is that once the Dem nominee is known & more attention is focused on Toomey vs. the known candidate, the gap will widen.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 22, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

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