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Specter's (Potential) Primary Problem



Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter. AP Photo by Ron Edmonds

At first glance, the latest numbers in the Pennsylvania Senate race paint a rosy picture for Sen. Arlen Specter.

He holds a 50 percent to 21 percent lead over Rep. Joe Sestak, who kind of, sort of got into the race yesterday, and his personal favorability ratings and job approval numbers are through the roof among Democrats, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

But, inside the numbers there are warning signs -- if not outright alarm -- for the newest Democrat.

The most important number in the poll is 70 percent. That's the proportion of Pennsylvania Democrats who don't know enough about Sestak to offer an opinion on whether they feel favorably or unfavorably toward him.

Compare that to Specter, about whom only 14 percent of Democrats said they didn't know enough to offer an opinion, and you begin to see the potential for problems for the recent party convert.

Sestak is an almost totally unknown commodity at this moment. And, while Specter is beating him soundly in a Democratic primary matchup, the margin is not so large as to be entirely conclusive as to the result with Specter just at the magic number of 50 percent.

Follow us on this hypothetical: Sestak gets into the race and, helped by the $3+ million he has sitting in the bank, prosecutes a case to Democratic primary voters that Specter is a Democrat in name only using the former Republican's votes for things like the 2001 Bush tax cut or the 2002 use of force resolution against Iraq as evidence.

Remember too that for any party switcher there is an underlying level of distrust from his new party with some (many?) believing that he is still a wolf in sheep's clothing.

In many ways, the primary dynamic between Specter and Sestak is not all that dissimilar from the 2004 Republican primary between Specter and former Rep. Pat Toomey. Toomey began that race as an unknown congressman trailing Specter badly. The entire party establishment lined up behind Specter and the incumbent drastically outspent the challenger. And yet, Toomey came within two points of pulling the upset due, in large part, to the fact that he was more in line ideologically with the average primary voters than was Specter.

Five years later and in a Democratic rather than a Republican primary and the scenario isn't that different. In fact, arguably, Sestak has a far stronger issue set to run against Specter than Toomey did in 2004.

To be clear: Specter is the favorite in this primary. But, don't be fooled by the current poll numbers. This could be a real race if Sestak runs.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 28, 2009; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party , Senate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: White House Cheat Sheet: Five Senators to Watch on Sotomayor
Next: Pelosi as Political Liability?

Comments

arlin spector goes which ever the way looks proffitable to the lobbyist he is in bed with at the time. he doesnt care about the country,or the people,he is a wart on the ass of humanity.

Posted by: silusdogood | June 1, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@nodebris - You have your opinions; I have mine. I disagree with Jake (vehemently!) on issues, but many posts are on the issues.

@Jake - thanks for the recommendation. I'll look up Ota. Nobu is *very* pricey as well and I'm always interested in local.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 29, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

FairlingtonBlade:

Thanks for the clarification. We don't eat sushi, but I've heard that is good from friends who do -- our favorite restaurant is Ruth's Chris up the street from there on North Harbor -- I've also heard that Sushi Ota is supposed to be the freshest but expensive.

Posted by: JakeD | May 29, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

FairlingtonBlade wrote to jaked: "You might be a terrier on an issue, but will respond in a substantive measure."

You should do him the honor of following up on his "substantive" posts. Examine his sources and presentation. You'll typically find on deeper inspection that he's merely a plausible huckster of cheap baubles.

Posted by: nodebris | May 29, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

@Jake - Sorry for the confusing post. I'd starting writing a response to Zouk's comments on targeting Republican-owned car dealerships and held off. You might be a terrier on an issue, but will respond in a substantive measure. I've never seen Zouk rise above name calling and so he was the person to whom I should have referred.

Interesting comment about Chris. He's certainly provocative, but definitely not a troll. Besides, he owns the bat and ball!

Cheers,

BB

P.S. I'm still going to keep bugging you about S.D. restaurants. Thinking about dropping a lot of scratch at Nobu in the Gaslamp in August.

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 28, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

How well Sen. Spector does in the PA primary is totally dependent on how good a democrat he really is between now and then.

I'm not a Pennsylvanian but I am a democrat. And if I had to choose between a young but lifelong democrat and an old converted republican, I'd pick the lifer every time. But that's just me.

DAStubbs,
Minneapolis

Posted by: dastubbs | May 28, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Nothing to see here, moving on

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 28, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

"Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans."

I wonder if they have beanies on their tinfoil hats?

Posted by: drindl | May 28, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Specter is a real strange one, I don't like him, it was nice when no one talked about him.

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 28, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

FairlingtonBlade:

Ouch! You don't think that Chris Cillizza is a "troll" too, do you?

bsimon1:

Harry Reid told CNN (after the Senate vote) that Specter remains a senior member and that, in the Senate, "we kind of exaggerate where people sit."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090507/ap_on_go_co/us_specter_committees

Posted by: JakeD | May 28, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I guess you're right. succesful car dealers are put OUT of business by the government because of their political beliefs. while failing teachers are kept IN business by the government because of their political beliefs.

And lately it has become obvious that car dealers are more inclined to tell the truth to the customers, while teachers lie to our kids every day. My how elections do matter.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"That reminds me of a Letterman episode from about 25 years ago. Jerri Hall was the guest, wearing something low cut, when Dave says "You know, sitting here next to you Jerry, gives me the nagging feeling that I've overinflated my tires.""

Nice

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"when most of your supporters are teachers, lawyers and writers"

Dude, pick another battle rather than try to favorably compare car dealers to teachers.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"If your tires are underinflated, its probably because of ACORN."


That reminds me of a Letterman episode from about 25 years ago. Jerri Hall was the guest, wearing something low cut, when Dave says "You know, sitting here next to you Jerry, gives me the nagging feeling that I've overinflated my tires."

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 28, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that although Libs would love to use advanced statistical/sampling methods to beef up the numbers of underrepresented voters (contrary to the constitution of course), they will not want to see the probability that the dealer closings were a result of non-meddling vengeful moonbats seeking retribution for some perceived slight.

Poor Libs. Math, unlike, language arts, is not succeptible to meddling and tinkering to redefine things simply by altering the moniker. eg prolonged = indefinite????????? while pro-choice baby killers.

when most of your supporters are teachers, lawyers and writers, you have to expect them to be impressed and concerned with fiddling at the edges of language definitions. You see it all depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

I only hope that those poor misunderstood freedom fighters are released from the golden sunshine center of cuban respite for manmade natural disaster and detention.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

"I think that strategy is reserved for liberal "activists" in their approach to Repub get-out-the vote efforts."

If your tires are underinflated, its probably because of ACORN.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans."

I just might have had my biggest "WTF" moment of the month when I first read that. Obama is targeting Republican donors?? REALLY?

These guys are just getting ridiculous.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

gleefully ignorant - covers a lot of ground, mostly in the NE and the left coast.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Hollywood. You forgot Hollywood. Is age creeping up on our monarch?

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 28, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

car dealers in general are likely to be Republican donors.

and further - successful business operators are Republican. If you need to find a Dem, look in the unions, the trial lawyers, the unemployed, the gleefully ignorant and the perpetually malaised. and the press of course, but I repeat myself.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Very Thin Books: "Liberal Democratic Car Dealers of the U.S.A." I believe that's right next to "The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush."

Posted by: andrewsalomon | May 28, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

DEFLATE your tires entirely.

I think that strategy is reserved for liberal "activists" in their approach to Repub get-out-the vote efforts.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Chris: This thing will largely hinge on money. Seeing as how the Obamians have their hands on the levers of power at the DNC, doesn't it stand to reason that they will have a large say in which candidate gets what access to party fund-raising? And, seeing as how Specter is already in the Senate and can help Obama on Sotomayor, health care, and/or other key pieces business, doesn't it stand to reason the Obamians will throw their weight, at least tacitly, behind Specter?

Posted by: andrewsalomon | May 28, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

"Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans."

This claim apparently ignores the fact that car dealers in general are likely to be Republican donors. There's some analysis at 538 for those interested in the details.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 28, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

zouk asks
"So if I inflate my tires (remember that gem?) will Al gore shut up?"

You ought to stick it to old stick-up-the-wazoo Al Gore - DEFLATE your tires entirely. That'll show him who's the boss of the King of Zouk. Eff'im!

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 28, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@Jake - Given that the DEMOCRATS wouldn't impeach and convict Bush, it's hardly surprising that Obama isn't under the gavel.

BB

[Just barely resisted feeding the Troll.]

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 28, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

vbhoomes,

"jontorrancce; it doesn,'t matter if he (Burris) wins or not, he is not bowing out and will fracture the party in the primary."

Yeah, that "let the Democrats be divided by their fractious primary" strategy worked really well for the Republicans in last year's presidential election. More seriously, even if there is some small but not insignificant part of the Democratic primary electorate that would stick with Burris in the primary, I have a hard time believing they'll then vote for a Republican or not vote in the general election. But go ahead and believe that if you like - as I said, it's fine by me you entertaining delusions.

Posted by: jontorrance | May 28, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

VaPatriot:

You are hoping that the DEMOCRATS investigate Obama, impeach and convict him?! They wouldn't even investigate Pelosi.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/house/pelosi-as-anchor.html

I hope you are not holding your breath.

Posted by: JakeD | May 28, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

KoZ - the political nature of dealer closing decisions explains a lot. The largest and highest volume Chrysler dealership near me was picked to be closed.

I had to ask myself, let me get this straight, the location that sells the MOST vehicles within a 75 mile radius is closed and that is supposed to be GOOD for sales? Huh?

At the time of the announcements, I thought it was just unparalleled stupidity on the part of Team Obama but political retribution makes way more sense.

I hope it is investigated, found to be true and the arrogant SOB gets impeached AND removed from office for political corruption.

Posted by: VaPatriot | May 28, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"More Great news for the Republican takeover in 2010. Burris is dead in the water, ditto for Dodd and Reid. We have a good chance to flip NY. The dems have had full power for only a couple of months and already, the public realizes they are not up to the job."

Personally, I think you have a better chance of taking Colorado than any of those seats. Gillebrand seems surprisingly formidable. Bennett seems a lot less so. I think Reid and Dodd hold on and Illinois will go Dem even if it isn't Burris.

Besides, you still have problems in Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

KoZ, if you paint your roof white, inflate your tired, and wear a cardigan Gore will not shut up. However, your power bill in the summer will go down, your car will be more fuel efficient, and you won't have to turn the heat as high in the winter, and you'll save money. I know, I wouldn't want to save money either. I'd rather give that money to oil barons in the Middle East, just like you. Have a good one.

Posted by: alkuth | May 28, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans. What started earlier this week as mainly a rumbling on the Right side of the Blogosphere has gathered some steam today with revelations that among the dealers being shut down are a GOP congressman and closing of competitors to a dealership chain partly owned by former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.


this is what government run (insert business)looks like. especially with such a vindictive and partisan head and troops. Al Capone would be proud.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"So if I paint my roof, inflate my tires (remember that gem?)"

Well, I hope you inflate your tires at least for the safety reasons.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday vowed not to make any compromise with the West and defended his remarks against Israel and on the Holocaust. 'We will never surrender to bullying powers, and those who think that we might make any compromise and give in to Western pressures and psychological war are badly mistaken,' Ahmadinejad said in a speech in Tehran

Doesn't sound like Obambi's begging for foregiveness is working too well. poor disillusioned Libs. I wonder if it is possible that the misunderstood ones are actually the citizens of the US and not the kooks who wish us ill. Like the NYTimes, NBC, Kos, jihadists and the moonbats on this blog.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"My father in law became eligible for retirement from his job in the schools about 15 years ago. When discussing it with his wife, he said "I don't know, I feel pretty good, I think I'll stick it out for a couple more years." His wife responded "What, are you going to keep working until you feel bad?"

What are pols like Specter, Kennedy & Byrd thinking - that they're irreplacable or something? Perhaps the more valid question is what voters are thinking, sending these tired old man back to Washington again and again and again."

Senator isn't President, but they are very close to the top of the food chain. These guys wield a tremendous amount of power and I can't imagine its easy to let that power go easily. Sure we hear about the gridlock and partisan bickering, but these guys still have a lot of influence. I'm not sure about Kennedy, though. He probably doesn't have a lot of time left.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 28, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Some people believe that nuclear power is the answer to climate change, others have proposed green technologies such as wind or solar power, but Barack Obama's top man on global warming has suggested something far simpler – painting your roof white.

So if I paint my roof, inflate my tires (remember that gem?), wear a cardigan and only buy gas on odd days, will Al gore shut up? how about if our President bows and scrapes at the feet of oil despots?

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Another moonbat heard from.

Hey Libs.
How does it feel to have your messiah pretty much adapt and vindicate all of Bush's foreign policies? I guess standing up to cheney didn't work out as planned. Sort of like picking Joe as number 2. and hiring tax cheats to run the new tax collecting society so all the ACORN voters can git paid.

so is locking someone up indefinitely (or is it prolonged now?) wrong or not? If it is in Cuba is it OK or must it be in colorado? All these nuances are so confusing. If there is a war overseas and the NYTimes doesn't report it, do any Libs care? what if N Korea attacks us? Who you say? you must be a Lib. Perhaps if someone apologized to them..........

right after the teleprompter gets fixed.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@bsimon - Interesting comment. I thought a Democrat stood aside on Judiciary so that Specter could take a seat as the junior Democrat. I'd love to hear Chris's (Cilizza, not Fox) take on how committee assignments would be affected if Franken (or Coleman) is finally seated.

Meanwhile, I see KoZ is gearing up for another threadbombing. Probably can't stand it that there's some real discussion going on around here...

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 28, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

No Drindl, I only said that in 2006, I predicted accurately for 2008. jontorrancce; it doesn,'t matter if he wins or not, he is not bowing out and will fracture the party in the primary. Granted, we have nominate a strong republican to cinch it, and I think we will. Peter King or Pataki could take Hillarys old seat.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 28, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

blert wrote: "That any of us can even type anything puts us one up on the monkeys, it seems."

Read a few more of kingofzouks posts, you may reconsider.

Posted by: nodebris | May 28, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Vbhoomes wrote:

More Great news for the Republican takeover in 2010. Burris is dead in the water, ditto for Dodd and Reid. We have a good chance to flip NY.

My comment: Burris? If he runs, and he won't, Burris doesn't get out of the primary. The Republican Party in Illinois is in a complete shambles. The real race is the Democratic Primary.

NY? Again the real game is in the primary.

I think that you have greatly overstated your case.

Posted by: dcraven925 | May 28, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

blert - the jury is still out on monkeys vs liberals.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Well Thank the big man that Specter is a Senator otherwise he probably would not have had healthcare to put his cancer into remission several times. The rest of us just have to die horrible deaths while trying to buy oxy off of street corners for the pain.

Of course, he must be a One-Percenter too, so he would probably still have Healthcare even if he was not in the position to supply hose to Pa. Fire companies. They are always screaming, "We need more hose, we need more hose".

You know, I like never ending political seasons. Even the President can take a joyride during the middle of the week to play politics. Don't worry about your day job while the rest of us are stuck looking for a day job, that's not important.

I am going back to ebay now, lots of good deals on granny's gold leafed china. Now why is that, only the rich get inheritance now I guess, the rest live week to week. It's good to be cynical, I like it, matches my health.

Posted by: markwpa | May 28, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

If he fails to support The Employee Free Choice Act. He is DOA come primary time. Mickey Mouse could beat him then.

Posted by: Pitt_Muscle | May 28, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

king_of_zouk wrote:
"I read somewhere once that 1000 monkeys typing randomly would eventually produce the entire works of Shakespeare. I wondered if it was true.

then I observed the same phenomenon here when I noticed drivl and chrissuxit posting rabidly.


Not a single intelligent thought yet. Kind of puts a damper on the monkeys hypothesis."


This is a favorite line of amateur statisticians. But, statistically, the odds of producing even one speech from a Shakespeare play, or even one sentence, are so slim as to be virtually impossible. The entire works? Those monkeys could pound away for a trillion years and it would still never happen. Still, to test the idea, some scientists in Britain, I think it was, put a half dozen monkeys in a room with some word processors a few years ago. Initially, the chimps ignored the objects. Within a few hours, all of the machines were completely smashed to bits.

That any of us can even type anything puts us one up on the monkeys, it seems.

Posted by: blert | May 28, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

It is moonbat central in here today. drivl must have sent its family over to daycare again. thanks barry for paying for everything and raising its kids.

It is probably best if the poor child and husband spend as little time with the loon as possible.
It will save our mental health budget in the years to come.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

sverge -- good post. Flipping NY -- never happen.

yes, i've alwyas wondered how 'red' went straight from commie to republican without missing a beat.

but it does tend to be the favored color of authoritarians.

Posted by: drindl | May 28, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

This is indeed fascinating! It will be like Kay Hagen vs. Libby Dole '08 (only better)!

Sestak has always struck a responsive chord in me, and I think he would be a good senator. I actually like Arlen Specter, but here are 3 'strikes' against him:

*The 'McCain Argument'--i.e., he's had a number of illnesses and he's not all that young (to be polite)

*The 'Turncoat issue': Even if Specter votes with the Democrats MOST of the time up to the primary, the Democrats need a RELIABLE 60th vote; Why should he be any less of a wildcard as a Democrat than he was as a Republican? This can be viewed either as 'principled' or 'contrary'.

Additionally, Specter's long history as a Republican leaves an endless trail of votes that even PA Democrats might find infuriating--such as the two you mentioned.

*The labour vote: If Sestak positions himself correctly, and Specter doesn't follow through on Card Check, labour will back Sestak. If Sestak does a proper media 'carpet-bombing' once/if he's in, he can define Specter as not only anti-labour, but as an untrustworthy hypocrite as well.

Obama and the DNC will undoubtedly follow through and gather behind Specter, but I wonder if Ed Rendell's support might only be half-hearted?

Oh, and decidedly NOT to pick a fight--of which there's far too much in The Fix Comments section anyway--may I ask what illegal substance 'vbhoomes' might have ingested to think of a Republican comeback in 2010 (or 2012, for that matter)? I agree that Burris is a dead man walking, but do you REALLY imagine that with such an attractive stable of aspirants on the Democratic side, Il. voters would possibly elect a Republican?

As for Dodd, he may well squeak by, depending on the kind of campaign he runs, or whether or not a more viable Dem. challenger appears in the Primary. Crist, if the gay rumours don't sink him, is the only near-certain winner for the Republicans in this cycle--and FL's Martinez is a Republican anyway (leaving out most of the Red states--and please correct my inadequate grasp of American idiom, but hasn't 'red'--as in 'better dead than red'--always been code for 'Communist'???).

As for, in your colourful expression, 'flipping NY', all I can say is, dream on.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | May 28, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"More Great news for the Republican takeover in 2010. "

I remember you saying the same thing the last two elections.

The way the party is shrinking and shedding voters, I have to wonder if there'll even be a party by then.

Posted by: drindl | May 28, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

vbhoomes,

I'll certainly grant that Dodd and Reid are vulnerable, though not necessarily dead in electoral terms, at least not Reid. I'm not sure what makes you think the Republicans have a good chance of winning a Senate seat in New York but neither am I certain Gillibrand is a lock. What convinces me you're delusional is that you seem to think it matters that Roland Burris is dead in the water. Do you think he'll win the Democratic primary for that Senate seat in 2010? I'll be mildly surprised if he even runs, so non-existent are his chances.

Not that it bothers me if Republicans insist on being delusional when they're out of power, alarming though it is when they're in power. Cheers.

Posted by: jontorrance | May 28, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

FarlingtonBlade writes
"Seniority is EVERYTHING in the Senate. Folks like Specter have probably had to sit around for several long terms to get any real power in the Senate. In a sense, the Democrats did the worst possible thing they could to him by stripping him of seniority."

Isn't part of the Specter seniority stripping influenced by the still unfinished MN Senate race? I don't know the nuances of senate rules; my limited understanding is that by stripping Specter of senority upon his party switch, the Dems have frozen committee membership where it was when Specter was a Repub - but the committees he sits on are now down one Repub. Once Franken is seated (barring a longshot victory from behind for Coleman), the committees will be rearranged. It is at that time that Spector could retrieve some seniority as a Dem.

Any insiders care to comment on that assessment?

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 28, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

More Great news for the Republican takeover in 2010. Burris is dead in the water, ditto for Dodd and Reid. We have a good chance to flip NY. The dems have had full power for only a couple of months and already, the public realizes they are not up to the job.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 28, 2009 12:44 PM

__________________________________________


The self-deception that believes the lie.

Posted by: pali2600 | May 28, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@bsimon1 - I remember the discussion around Hillary late last year. Despite the fact that she'd been in the Senate 8 years and clearly had national appeal, she was returning to be a junior senator. No wonder State was appealing.

Seniority is EVERYTHING in the Senate. Folks like Specter have probably had to sit around for several long terms to get any real power in the Senate. In a sense, the Democrats did the worst possible thing they could to him by stripping him of seniority. That'll be revisited IF he wins in November and IF he plays nice until then.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 28, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

As long as the White House and Senate Dem leaders continue to enthusiastically back Specter, he has nothing to worry about.

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

Posted by: parkerfl1 | May 28, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

To follow up what bsimon1 just said, a case could be made for those "old bull" senators that have important chairmanships & seniority. But in Specter's case he lost all that seniority when he switched parties.

Posted by: cyberfool | May 28, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

What's ironic for Specter's primary troubles (as a member of either party) is that his views are probably the most in line with Pennsylvania voters. The Dem/GOP/independent & other split for the state is now 52%/37%/12%. It's mathematically possible, then, that a hypothetical three-way general election could go 56% Specter, 25.5% Sestak, 18.5% Toomey but that Specter could lose a hypothetical Dem primary 50.1%-49.9% (which is 25.5% of all voters for Sestak) and a hypothetical GOP primary 50.1%-49.9% (which is 18.5% of all voters for Toomey).

I'm not saying this is how the numbers would swing, it's just interesting that the numbers explain why common wisdom is probably correct here: Specter would struggle in either party's primary even though his views arguably fit Pennsylvania best.

Posted by: Politics7 | May 28, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

More Great news for the Republican takeover in 2010. Burris is dead in the water, ditto for Dodd and Reid. We have a good chance to flip NY. The dems have had full power for only a couple of months and already, the public realizes they are not up to the job.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 28, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Chris, why no talk about the head-to-head numbers for Specter-Toomey or Sestak-Toomey. It seems quite interesting that Specter's lead over Toomey dropped from +20 to +9 after his switch. Toomey holds him under the magical 50% line: 46-37.

Perhaps even more interesting, Toomey does just as well as more "moderate" Gerlach against Specter. And Toomey-Sestak is a toss-up from the git go.

Sure the D primary might be interesting, but the Quinnipaic poll seems to suggest that CW on the other parts of the race may be off as well. Toomey may beat Specter in a general race. And Sestak doesn't start with a big built-in Democrat lead in the state.

Posted by: hoyaswinger | May 28, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

On Specter's side, he was one of five Republicans who didn't vote to convict Bill Clinton. That ought to count for something.

Posted by: zenwick | May 28, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I wonder about that too, bsimon. Specter doesn't good at all. He's just so grayish. And it can't be pleasant to be constantly attacked by rightwing loonies and then challenged on the left to boot...

Posted by: drindl | May 28, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Based on how old and ill Specter looks in that photo, I don't see how anybody can vote for him with confidence that he will live long enough to serve out his term.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | May 28, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

A large number of Democrats in Pa have been voting for Specter for years. Sestak has a long hill to climb to beat the Senator.

Specter's age and health are his biggest vulnerability. That is what Sestak should be concentrating on, not the Senator's recent party switch.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | May 28, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I read somewhere once that 1000 monkeys typing randomly would eventually produce the entire works of Shakespeare. I wondered if it was true.

then I observed the same phenomenon here when I noticed drivl and chrissuxit posting rabidly.


Not a single intelligent thought yet. Kind of puts a damper on the monkeys hypothesis.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 28, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I think the country would be better off if the voters sent Specter home.

Posted by: fletc3her | May 28, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why these old bulls stick around and put up with this nonsense year after year. Life is meant to be enjoyed, yet these guys go back to Washington year in & year out, to fight the same tired battles over and over again. Justice Souter may be the only sane man in Washington, as brief as that will be, given his pending retirement.

My father in law became eligible for retirement from his job in the schools about 15 years ago. When discussing it with his wife, he said "I don't know, I feel pretty good, I think I'll stick it out for a couple more years." His wife responded "What, are you going to keep working until you feel bad?"

What are pols like Specter, Kennedy & Byrd thinking - that they're irreplacable or something? Perhaps the more valid question is what voters are thinking, sending these tired old man back to Washington again and again and again.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 28, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

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