Quinnipiac headlines results on its latest survey for Pat Toomey and Arlen Specter, but they bury a more interesting nugget from their Pennsylvania survey. Barack Obama, who won Pennsylvania handily in 2008, now has a -19 on health care, and a -5 on the economy, while only having a wan 49-45 positive overall approval rating:
President Obama’s 49 – 45 percent approval compares to a 49 – 42 percent score in an October 1 Quinnipiac University poll. In this latest survey, the President gets a positive rating from 82 percent of Democrats, 45 percent of independents and 17 percent of Republicans.
And the overall job approval rating is actually better than when voters are asked about Obama’s performance on health care and the economy. They disapprove 50 – 45 percent of Obama’s handling of the economy and disapprove 56 – 37 percent of his handling of health care. On Afghanistan, they approve 51 – 41 percent.
“The President’s job approval rating in Pennsylvania should be troubling to the White House. Pennsylvania has been trending Democratic in recent years and Obama had a double- digit 55 – 44 percent win in the 2008 election,” said Brown. “But what’s ailing him in Pennsylvania – unhappiness over health care and the economy – is no different than what is producing similar, and in some places worse numbers for the President elsewhere.”
That may have something to do with the Senate race numbers the Q-poll finds in its survey. Toomey’s position is basically the same as two months ago, in a dead heat with Arlen Specter. Specter has improved against Joe Sestak, but it’s unclear why:
Sen. Specter holds a commanding 53 – 30 percent lead in the Democratic Senate primary over Congressman Joe Sestak, a slight increase from the 44 – 25 percent margin when the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University last surveyed Pennsylvania voters October 1. …
“With less than 11 months to go, Sen. Arlen Specter and Pat Toomey are neck-and-neck. Specter has the state’s Democratic registration advantage on his side, while Toomey can take heart in the numbers that show problems for Specter in measures in addition to the horse race,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“For example, voters say 50 – 38 percent he does not deserve reelection.”
With those kind of numbers, Specter hardly needs Obama like an albatross hanging around his neck. The economy will be the biggest issue going into the midterm elections, and with Obama attempting to impose tougher restrictions on coal, Pennsylvanians can look forward to more misery than the country as a whole. Specter’s flip to Obama’s banner is not going to help him under those circumstances, and Specter lacks Obama’s likeability that tends to float his overall approval higher than his work on the specific issues.
The best potential for Toomey is also his biggest danger: his relative lack of recognition in the state. Specter has an opportunity to define Toomey negatively before Toomey can define himself positively. However, with Specter locked in a tough primary race against Sestak, that should give Toomey ample opportunity to properly introduce himself to Pennsylvania voters — and to give them all the more reason to retire Snarlin’ Arlen.