March 25th, 2009
02:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Polls suggest stimulus vote hurting Specter

As Sen. Arlen Specter gets ready to run for a sixth term next year, two new polls offer mixed signals on just how hard a road to re-election the Pennsylvania Republican faces.
As Sen. Arlen Specter gets ready to run for a sixth term next year, two new polls offer mixed signals on just how hard a road to re-election the Pennsylvania Republican faces.

(CNN) - As Sen. Arlen Specter gets ready to run for a sixth term next year, two new polls offer mixed signals on just how hard a road to re-election the Pennsylvania Republican faces.

A Quinnipiac University survey of registered Pennsylvania voters released Wednesday suggests Specter trails conservative Pat Toomey in a hypothetical Republican primary matchup by a 41 to 27 percent margin, with 28 percent unsure. But a Franklin and Marshall College poll released the same day indicates that Specter leads Toomey 33 percent to 18 percent, with 7 percent for other candidates and 42 percent unsure. While the Franklin and Marshall survey suggests that Specter leads in the matchup, 51 percent of Republicans questioned in that poll believe its time for a change rather than see Specter re-elected.

In the Republican primary six years ago, Specter narrowly edged out Toomey, at the time a three term member of the House of Representatives. Nowadays Toomey is the president of the Club for Growth, a conservative political organization that raises money for candidates who support a low tax and limited government agenda. Toomey is inching closer to a rematch with Specter.

Specter was one of only three Republican lawmakers in Congress who supported President Barack Obama's stimulus plan. His vote in favor of the stimulus, along with fellow Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, were crucial to the passage of the bill.

The Quinnipiac poll suggests that Specter is paying a political price for his support of the stimulus. The survey indicates that Specter has an overall approval rating of 52 percent, but that drops to 36 percent among Republicans. Seven out of ten Democrats approve of how Specter's handling his job as senator. Eight-seven percent of Democrats support Specter's vote on the stimulus, while seven out of ten Republican disapprove of his vote.

"The polls seem in rough agreement on one key measure - Specter's current support among Pennsylvania Republicans is somewhere between 27 percent and 33 percent, well under the 50 percent mark that political junkies believe is important for incumbents who hope to be re-elected," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "So whether Specter is ahead of Toomey or trailing him, the two polls aren't good news for the Senator. On the other hand, both polls have a large number of undecided voters, and they ask about a hypothetical match-up that is a year away. We shouldn't read too much into either survey."

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted March 19-23, with 1,056 Pennsylvania voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The Franklin and Marshall College poll was conducted March 17-22, with 662 Pennsylvania voters questioned by telephone. The sampling error for that poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points.


Filed under: Arlen Specter • Pennsylvania • Polls
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. rand

    If Specter's vote on the stimulus bill is so distasteful to the people of PA then give the money back. He and the other 2 Republicans voting for the bill were doing what our elected officials should be doing which is do for the people not your party.

    After the debate is over then come together to make it work, that is what a real team player does; they don't try to sabotage the play; but that seems to be the Republicans actions.

    March 25, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. Majik

    Specter is not the only senator in trouble with the voters. If we still have the right to vote in 2010 There will be wholesale changes in both the Senate and House. Folks are really mad and will remove the Congressmen that do not work to support the American citizens.

    March 25, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. John

    Arlen Specter under attack?

    Its always amusing to watch Republicans cannibalize each other.

    bon apetite, thugs.

    March 25, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. lil

    His vote is not hurting him, its the fact that he is a republican thats hurting him.

    March 25, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. peeved

    Throw out all incumbents. That's a real term limit!

    March 25, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Dawn Pittsburgh

    As a huge supporter of Obama, I want to thank Spector for the support! As a Democrat, I will be excited that now PA will have 2 democratic senators serving our state!

    March 25, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Luke Brown

    Specter is the only Republican who stands a chance in Pennsylvania next year... so, of course, the right wing is going to cannibalized him.

    March 25, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Luke Brown

    Specter should switch parties anyway. There is no room in the GOP for reasonable Republicans who put problem-solving ahead of partisanship.

    March 25, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  9. Simmy

    If he loses it's because the voters in his district are a bunch of losers. Whatever happens, he will be fine. Live well and prosper, sir.

    March 25, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. rick,alabama

    Run on democrat ticket,he's got my vote.He votes country first.

    March 25, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Penn Voter

    Goodbye Arlen, Goodbye

    Having Obama in the White House might very well be the best thing to happen to the Republican Party. Out with the rest of Bush-ites. Time to find a new constitutional focused, conservative leadership and one that looks after home matters first.

    March 25, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
1 2