Sestak wipes out Specter at Netroots Nation straw poll

So much for switching parties to save one’s political hide.  Arlen Specter might have pulled a Jumping Jim in order to avoid a primary fight with Pat Toomey, but he landed in another with Rep. Joe Sestak for the Democratic nomination for his Senate seat in 2010.  Despite a surprisingly warm reception at Netroots Nation, the straw poll conducted of its attendees show that the activists in the Democratic Party overwhelmingly distrust Specter just as much as Republicans did:

Progressive online activists prefer Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) over Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) by a landslide margin, according to results of a Netroots Nation straw poll released Saturday. The poll also showed significant resistance to passing a health reform plan without a public option.

The online poll of 252 attendees, which took place Thursday and Friday at the annual gathering of progressive bloggers and activists, found that 48 percent supported Sestak for the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nomination, compared to just 10 percent who backed Specter.

Exactly one-third said they didn’t know which candidate they supported and seven percent said neither.

The results reflect Sestak’s popularity among bloggers and progressive online activists, and the same groups’ wariness toward Specter, a five-term incumbent who switched parties and became a Democrat in April.

I said in 2006 that the reason why Republicans lost control of Congress is that, when faced with a choice between a Democrat and a Republican trying to act like a Democrat, voters will choose the authentic item almost every time.  That apparently applies within the Democratic bloc of voters as well.

Yesterday, I interviewed Dave Weigel, who is covering both NRN and Right Online for the Washington Independent, and I asked him about Specter’s reception among the netroots.  Dave said that Specter got a surprisingly warm reception, and felt that Sestak had performed rather poorly in comparison.  That may be true, but it also may be immaterial.  The activist base of the Democratic Party doesn’t trust Specter, despite his flip-flops on Card Check and health care … or perhaps because of them.

And we know how they feel.

Pat Toomey told me yesterday that Specter said he switched because he didn’t want to justify his existence to the GOP party base.  It looks like he’ll get roughly the same treatment from Democrats.  I think we may need to start the Specter retirement pool in the near future.