In 2008, Barack Obama won the national popular vote by seven points over John McCain for the presidency, an outcome that got reported as a major triumph, if not a landslide, by most major media. Two years later, MSNBC publishes an AP report on a poll result from Quinnipiac about the Senate race in Pennsylvania with this headline:
Poll: Toomey slightly ahead in Pa. Senate race
Republican Pat Toomey is slightly ahead of Democrat Joe Sestak in a new poll in Pennsylvania’s closely watched race for U.S. Senate.
The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Toomey with 50 percent to Sestak’s 43 percent among likely voters. Meanwhile, independent voters are breaking heavily for Toomey, 54 percent to 36 percent.
Yes, it’s that same seven point gap that constituted a resounding victory over McCain. Not only that, but this is the first independent poll showing Toomey surmounting the 50% threshold in the race. Sestak, meanwhile, has finally gotten out of the thirties, but is not capturing voters at the rate necessary to surpass the Republican that chased Arlen Specter into the Democratic Party and eventually out of the Senate.
The internals of this poll aren’t any cheerier to Democrats, either, and not just in the Senate race:
By 47 – 41 percent, likely Pennsylvania voters say Toomey rather than Sestak shares their values. And 41 percent of all voters say “shared values” is the most important quality they seek in a candidate, while 25 percent cite the ability to bring change to Washington. Another 23 percent are looking for someone who is honest and trustworthy and 7 percent want the candidate with the right experience.
Pennsylvania likely voters are strongly negative on the federal health care overhaul passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last March. By 59 – 34 percent, including 63 – 32 percent among independents, they give the plan thumbs down.
If 41% want “shared values” and another 25% want to “bring change to Washington,” that’s about two-thirds of the electorate inclined against sending Democrats back to maintain a status quo with which Pennsylvanians are highly dissatisfied. The ObamaCare numbers are bad enough with a 25-point downside, but Barack Obama himself is “acting as a drag” on Toomey with a 40/56 approval rating among likely Pennsylvania voters. That number erodes to 36/62 among independents.
Well, okay, it erodes slightly. I hope that makes Sestak, the Democrats, and MSNBC happier.