A new poll by a newspaper collective in Pennsylvania shows Pat Toomey handily beating both Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak in a matchup for the Senate race in November. The Times-Tribune reports that the survey polled 1165 registered voters in Pennsylvania, only 395 of which were likely voters, and found Democrats trailing in both groups, although one has to get past a dozen paragraphs or more to find out:
Among all registered voters, Mr. Specter was tied with Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey at 30 percent with 35 percent saying they don’t know whom to support. Mr. Specter was up by 8 percentage points in an August poll.
That’s an 8-point swing for Toomey in just five months, showing that Pennsylvania voters have had enough of Specter and the Democrats. After all, Specter is the incumbent — and if he can’t get above 30%, he’s not going to be the incumbent for much longer. Thirty-five percent is a high number for undecided, too, even at this stage, which means that most aren’t sold on their current Senator.
However, the news gets worse for Democrats among likely voters:
But among 395 likely voters, Mr. Toomey led Mr. Specter 45 to 31 percent. Mr Toomey led Mr. Sestak by 41 to 19 percent. The pool of likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Six in 10 voters think it is time for a new senator.
“That’s normally an extraordinarily bad sign for incumbents,” Dr. Madonna said.
You think? That’s no tie. Among people most likely to actually vote, Specter’s share doesn’t increase at all, while Toomey’s goes up 50% over his share in the normal sample. That tells us that voter enthusiasm is on Toomey’s side.
One factor driving this is Barack Obama:
A month after Mr. Obama took office, the F&M poll showed 55 percent thought he was doing a good or excellent job and 36 percent said he was doing a fair or poor job. In the latest poll, that was down to 38 percent good or excellent and 61 percent fair or poor.
The way Pennsylvanians view the president personally also dimmed. In February, 56 percent had a favorable view and 23 percent an unfavorable view. In the latest poll, 44 percent each had favorable and unfavorable views. In October, it was 45 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable.
Job approval of 38%? In Pennsylvania, which has broken Democratic in the last few presidential elections? Ouch.
Here’s the problem for Democrats. Sestak may have the best shot at holding onto his own seat in the House. He wants to run against Specter in order to move the Senate seat to the left, but what he may wind up doing is moving both the Senate and House seat to the right by vacating the latter. If Sestak continues to poll this badly against Toomey, how long before someone at the DNC or the DCCC has a sit-down with Sestak to convince him to run for re-election instead?
Clearly, though, Specter is about to get the boot from fed-up Keystone State voters. Democrats might want to push Specter out of the race and find another Democrat with statewide standing to run against Toomey, in the same manner that they pushed Chris Dodd out for Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut. The irony is that Specter switched parties in the first place to cling to power — and now he’s put himself in a spot where neither party wants anything to do with him.