PA-Sen: Specter Crushes Toomey as Democrat, but Ridge is Close

Quinnipiac University (4/29-5/3, “Pennsylvania voters,” no trendlines):

Arlen Specter (D-inc): 53

Pat Toomey (R): 33

Undecided: 10

Arlen Specter (D-inc): 46

Tom Ridge (R): 43

Undecided: 8

(MoE: ±2.9%)

Specter gets an impressive 77-8 approval rating among Democrats, though that may fade as the afterglow wears off. His overall approvals jumped a bit, too, from 45-31 to 52-34. Former Gov. Tom Ridge, though, has an even better 55-19 rating – but if Arlen Specter was hopeless against Pat Toomey in a GOP primary, does the also-moderate Ridge really have a shadow of a chance? Nonetheless, he’s apparently considering a run.

On the Democratic side, meanwhile, Rep. Joe Sestak continues to seriously explore a challenge to Specter. Appearing yesterday on CNN, he said of Specter, “I’m not sure he’s a Democrat yet,” and acted undaunted by Obama’s support for party-switchin’ Arlen. Sestak’s also apparently meeting with SEIU’s iconoclastic leader Andy Stern. The labor movement is of course deeply unhappy with a different Specter flip-flop: his shameful decision to abandon the Employee Free Choice Act.

Unsurprisingly, Specter also appeared on the Sunday talk shows, and he just provided the script for Sestak’s (or Joe Torsella’s, or Patrick Murphy’s, etc.) first attack ad. Specter supposedly told Obama over the phone last week that “I’m a loyal Democrat. I support your agenda.” But he told David Gregory yesterday:

I did not say I would be a loyal Democrat. I did not say that.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, just like the Republican contest, is closed, a fact Arlen already seems to be ignoring.

(Hat-tips: Political Wire & Politico)

49 thoughts on “PA-Sen: Specter Crushes Toomey as Democrat, but Ridge is Close”

  1. If you want to be a Democrat, if you are going to say that you are a loyal Democrat and support President Obama’s agenda, you had better be able and willing to back that up with words.  Your saying this puts the burden on yourself to back it up, and more so than a lot of Democratic House members representing ruby-red districts, who don’t say (at least directly) things like this.

    I can understand not looking like a complete flip-flopper on the issues, so having to take some time to shift in the voters’ minds, but now that your mouth is going off you’re instead looking like a flip-flopper in words.

    And since you’re now “our SOB”, as someone else here at SSP put it, I’d advise you to be careful.

  2. The polling on Specter’s opposition to EFCA was most interesting to me.  Specter’s opposition made 22% of Democrats less likely to vote for him, 13% more likely, and 60% doesn’t make a difference (not really surprising).  But, Specter’s EFCA opposition made 26% of Republicans less likely to vote for him and only 13% more likely, with it not making a difference to 59%.  I don’t really get the Republican results.  Maybe there really is 26% of PA Republicans who are strongly pro-labor?

    Also of note for its absence:  no polling of Ridge v. Toomey in the R primary.  The CS seems to be that Toomey would be Ridge handily since Ridge and Specter are similar, but I’m skeptical.  Would be nice to see if Ridge is a real threat to us or not.  Also would be good to get Sestak v. Ridge and Sestak v. Toomey general election numbers.

    Maybe Kos can help us out here?

  3. I have to wonder what in the world is Specter doing?  Was he told by Rendell that Sestak and Torsella would not run when Rendell in fact did not know that?

  4. to the President, or didn’t he?

    Was that completely mis-reported by someone?

    I’m confused.

  5. But there is next to no chance of it happening.  Republicans are not going to nominate Ridge due to social views.  He’ll get destroyed by Toomey in a primary.

  6. Political landscapes can change quickly, they are built on sand, not bedrock. An unpopular Obama in 2010, and it could easily go to Ridge in the general.  

    Ridge winning the primary may be tough, but I don’t discount it too much either.    

    I remember the big Harris Wofford win in ’91 followed by the about face Santorum win in ’94.    

  7. So:

    1 Was he ever recorded on video or audio saying that?

    2 Has he ever recently explained this change now that’s he isn’t anymore.

    3 How much could Ridge (and his backers) use Toomey’s flipflop against in the Repub primary? I think it’s big. At a minimum it should put doubts in the minds of the true-believers about how “legit” Toomey really is.

  8. It’s getting harder and harder to argue that he’s not a moron.

    He’s not going to get to keep the Republican base, and most of the Republican moderates in SE PA support Obama anyway or would forgive Specter for doing so.

    All he’s doing now is building up more resistance towards him amongst the Democratic base, which is a mind-numbingly stupid idea.

  9. But I decided against including them in the post because the description of EFCA was too pro-EFCA. What I mean is, the question only presented the positive side, and didn’t even mention the usual anti-EFCA claims. (Even if they are b.s., we’ll see plenty of them from the Chamber of Commerce.)

  10. Specter sure hasn’t moved hard left so far.  Part I think is the desire to not look too craven by immediately flip flopping on issues he had already taken a position on.  But, you have to wonder whether Specter is also more concerned about a general election contest than a D primary.  Maybe he thinks Ridge or Gerlach will run and win the R nomination?

  11. I see your point.  So, it’s probably correct to take the the responses with a grain of salt.

    But, the wording of the question shouldn’t effect Republican responses any more or less than Democratic responses.  There were roughly equal numbers of Republicans as Democrats (actually somewhat more Republicans) who are less likely to vote for Specter because of his EFCA opposition.  That’s what I found most surprising.  That tells me there are a fair amount of pro-labor Republicans in PA who might be persuaded to cross over and vote Democrat.  Certainly worth exploring further.

  12. and so there are plenty of nominal Democrats in the west who would vote for a Republican unless they had some labor reason to support the Democrat. As Specter has never been popular in the West, the EFCA is especially important to that component of the race.  

  13. It’s not like Specter doesn’t know that.  Everyone in PA believes that Rendell can deal out Torsella.  

    Nobody believes that anyone can deal out Sestak.  He’s like teh crazy uncle.  You don’t know what he’s going to do or say, but you sorta like him anyway.  

    All Rendell could promise was to squash Sestak’s local fundraising, and to raise for Arlen.  I presume Arlen was willing to run that risk.

  14. And said do did not say to the President that he would be a loyal Democrat. That quote about him being a loyal Dem is false.

  15. Why Ridge polls 10 points higher than Toomey. But why does Specter poll 7 points lower in a race against Ridge than he does against Toomey?

    Plus, against Toomey Specter is above 50%. That’s the magic number. In the 11 races Dems have defeated incumbents over the last 2 cycles, only once was the incumbent polling pretty consistently above 50% and that was Virginia in 06 and we all know why that race turned. In RI in 06, I remember the first Whitehouse-Chaffee poll showed Linc ahead by 18, but it was 29-47 and it showed that while Whitehouse still had a long ways to go, the voters of RI weren’t totally sure they wanted to send Chaffee back to the senate. But, when an incumbent polls above 50%, there’s usually not a whole lot the challenger can do about it.

  16. I agree with you.  My only concern is that the GOP may try to distance themselves from Toomey because they know he’s unelectable.

    My point is that the GOP’s anger with Specter may be stronger than their love for Toomey’s message.  The GOP should never be underestimated for the willingness to break away from their principles.  If the GOP decides that Specter must be defeated, they will dump Toomey and push for Ridge.  Ridge is still very popular among Republicans, and he has better name recognition than Toomey, although probably not by much.  If Steele wakes up, he will push Ridge to run for office.  Ridge could make things interesting if he was supported by the NRSC and the RNC.  

    I doubt this will happen.  The GOP are slow learners, and the election is decided by the voters as opposed to the NRSC or the RNC.  Plus, Toomey has the ability to raise some serious cash.  However, if the GOP bends their principles, Ridge has a fighting chance to win the nomination.

    If for some reason Ridge wins the nomination, the general election would be close.  I think Specter would win, but not by more than 8%.  

  17. I think it would still be close with any other Democrat for the simple reason that Ridge is a popular former moderate Republican governor.

    Ridge causes the same problem in Pennsylvania that Rell does in Connecticut, Pataki in New York, Castle in Delaware. They are Republicans in states where voters swung Democratic because they feel Republicans are shunning people like Rell, Ridge, Castle and Pataki.

    I’m skeptical of using the “Specter makes it close with Ridge” argument because if we start talking electability, early polls would likely show a Sestak or Torsella behind Ridge because of name recognition and that would give Specter the ability to argue “I’m electable, I’m known!” which could help him.  

  18. Which is the one unforgivable sin amongst the hardcore GOP.  There is absolutely no way they would vote for Ridge over Toomey solely because of that one issue.  And it doesn’t matter if Ridge flip-flops on it, there is a long paper trail on Ridge and that issue.  Toomey will destroy him on it.

    When was Ridge’s last statewide win for Gov, 1998?  The PA GOP has moved WAY right in those 10+ years.

  19. The same suburban Republicans-turned-Democrats around Philly and other areas in moderate-to-liberal eastern Pennsylvania would have a much easier time voting for the pro-choice moderate Ridge than the crazy hard-right wingnut Toomey (In other words, Ridge and Specter can chase a very similar demographic, which loathes Toomey).  Toomey’s going to win alot of the “T”, but he might not even carry his home in the Lehigh Valley.

  20. Ridge was last elected in 1998.  He left the governor’s mansion early to become a Bush cabinet member.  And yes, the party has swung far right since then.  Specter, who is pro-choice, would have been demonized by that one issue if he ran in 2010 since a flood of moderate Republicans have left the party.

    Your argument is strong…I will not disagree with your position that being pro-choice is unforgivable with the hardcore GOP.  My question is what is more important with the GOP:  standing behind a candidate with no chance of defeating “the turncoat” Specter or supporting a candidate who is not ideal with the party but has at least a chance of winning the election?  I don’t know the answer, but I do know that the Republicans can break their own principles if they are pressed to do such.  The GOP party used to banter the idea that they were the fiscally responsible party, but they decided to ignore that principle during the Bush years of 2001-2006.


  21. And its I disputed the assertion that the only reason for the disparity between Ridge and Toomey was name ID

  22. Im assuming Toomey is a ‘fiscal conservative first’ given that he was head of the Club for Growth which was all about supporting candidates based on their fiscal conservatism. Although it seems most of the ones they endorse in a primary are also strong social conservatives, too.

  23. In a way, I’m almost glad Specter is being deceitful about this.

    Maybe it might help remove those rose-colored glasses about Republicans that The President always seems to be wearing.

    It sure seems that unions & labor have thrown away their rose-colored glasses about Specter.

  24. I’m shocked I tell you, absolutely shocked!

    I think people need to wait and see here. He isn’t going to start flip-flopping straight out the gate. It is completely unrealistic to think otherwise. Now, he could very well follow the path he seems to be taking. But then again he has a history of changing positions to curry favor so let us just be patient and see if other members of the caucus can nudge him a bit. The threat of a primary can’t hurt either.

  25. he smeared his first Dem opponent for Congress in 1998 for being anti-choice, and claimed he was the only pro-choice candidate in the race.

    Toomey claimed in his 2004 race that he switched his position after he became a father.  Specter did use the issue quite well in 2004, Toomey’s response was quite weak (Chris Matthews asked him what the punishment should be for a woman who has an abortion, and Toomey mumbled a bit and never gave a clear answer.)  The whole episode probably cost him the primary.

    I’m not sure that flip-flop will have that much of an effect in 2010.  Toomey’s 2004 race has solidified his anti-choice credentials.

    Disclosure: As you may know, I switched parties in 2004 to vote and volunteer for Toomey in the primary.  I’m almost certainly going to do it again in 2010.

  26. when he was asked that question, Santorum stated that a woman who had an abortion should be prosecuted for first degree murder.  Toomey gave a bumbling, very unclear answer.

  27. for John Heinz, a pro-choice Republican. (Incidentally, in Pennsylvania the Pro Choice party used to be the Republican party, mainly because it was based in the liberal southeast).

  28. to anti-choice reportedly when he started dating his wife, and started going to church again.

    He started out working for J Doyle Corman, who was a pro-choice state senator from Centre County.

  29. Im assuming they (and their descendants) are now Republican but werent they Democratic when they moved there? Since they were from staunchly Democratic states. I once worked with an older lady, here in TX, who was an Okie transplant to northern California, and she seemed pretty culturally conservative. May be a good description of that generation.  

  30. From pro-choice to pro-life. Seemingly all the political Bush’s (George HW, George W, and Jeb), Sen. Barrasso, Sen. Corker,  Sen. Isakson, etc. Werent Reagan and McCain once pro-choice, too?  

  31. The descendants of the Okie/Arkie transplants are most likely Republican now since most of them settled in the Central Valley, the part of California that is most like Oklahoma culturally and landscape-wise, and most of those counties are strongly Republican, though Obama won the big prize of Fresno County.

    As California filled up with the Okies and Arkies, it went from a solidly Republican state to a Republican-leaning swing state, which it would remain until the 1990s. Note the dramatic changes in the Congressional delegation and the state legislature throughout the 30s.

    House – Total Dem gain of 13

    1930: 10 Republicans, 1 Democrats

    1932: 11 Republicans, 9 Democrats (Net Dem gain of 7) (California gained 9 seats in the 1930 Census)

    1934: 13 Democrats, 7 Republicans (Dem gain of 4)

    1936: 15 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 1 Independent (Dem gain of 2)

    Senate – Total Dem gain of 10

    1928: 35 Republicans, 5 Democrats

    (1930 and 1932 numbers were the same as 1928)

    1934: 33 Republicans, 7 Democrats (Dem gain of 2)

    1936: 25 Republicans, 15 Democrats (Dem gain of 8)

    Assembly – Total Dem gain of 38

    1928: 70 Republicans, 8 Democrats, 2 Independents

    1930: 56 Republicans, 24 Democrats (Dem gain of 16)

    (1932 numbers were the same as 1930)

    1934: 41 Republicans, 39 Democrats (Dem gain of 15)

    1936: 46 Democrats, 34 Republicans (Dem gain of 7)

    What an amazing turnaround in less than a decade!

  32. he signed an abortion liberalization bill, although I wouldn’t call the bill pro-choice as much as that it allowed doctors (not the pregnant woman per se) to determine whether an abortion should be allowed.

    McCain was never pro-choice.  McCain simply said in 2000 that he understands different points of views, and that he wouldn’t force his pro-life views on his daughter, although he would encourage her to keep the child.

  33. that the Depression and FDRs New Deal had as much to do with it as the Okies and the Arkies.  

    The Senate would have went Democratic too, except that it was not reapportioned by population (that requirement was imposed by the Supreme Court in Baker v Carr (1962).)  Think about that, gerrymandering where you don’t have to have all the districts to have equal population.  Lots of ability for abuse there.

  34. is really populating with Hispanics.  If Obama is able to pass an immigration bill, this area could become even very quickly.

    Regardless, I would stick all the (non-voting) Hispanic areas into a Democratic district during redistricting.

  35. he really enjoyed pissing off the Repub base, and he really enjoys pissing off the Dem base now that he has switched.

    It seems like he gets some personal enjoyment in doing this.

  36. My guess is that if we had only one or the other, the gains would not have been as dramatic. Though we didn’t make many gains in the statewide offices, and the first gains did not happen until 1938 with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and then we lost them after one term. We also gained a U.S. Senate seat, though lost it in 1950 after two terms when Sheridian Downey retired (and to Nixon, ugh!).

  37. It’s essentially already done, and there are too many for just one district.  Costa’s district is 63% Hispanic and Nunes’s is 43%. Radanovich’s is 28%.  Normally, we should get Nunes’s district if the Hispanic vote would hold up in anything resembling having the same rate vote as whites.  I would be highly opposed to packing more Hispanics into Costa’s district in Fresno.  In no way should we dilute Cardoza’s district (39% Hispanic, either)  Now, a packing of Nunes’ or Radanovich’s district I might support, and I actually think we do the former taking Kevin McCarthy’s Hispanics and pushing them into Nunes’ district.  

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