December 18th, 2009
10:53 AM ET
8 months ago

Poll: Pennsylvania's fall Senate race all tied up

In early May, Specter held a 20-point lead over Toomey, but that advantage had disappeared by July.
In early May, Specter held a 20-point lead over Toomey, but that advantage had disappeared by July.

(CNN) – Dead even.

That's what a new poll in Pennsylvania indicates about next year's senate race between Sen. Arlen Specter and Republican challenger Pat Toomey.

According to the Quinnipiac University survey of Keystone State voters released Friday morning, the Republican-turned-Democratic incumbent is deadlocked at 44 percent with the former congressman and former head of the Club for Growth, a limited-government and anti-tax organization. Toomey had a statistically insignificant one point lead over Specter in an October 1 Quinnipiac poll.

In early May, Specter held a 20-point lead over Toomey, but that advantage had disappeared by July. Toomey led Specter in polls of a hypothetical Republican Senate primary earlier this year, before the five-term senator became a Democrat. Specter said at the time that the difficulty in winning the Republican primary was a factor in his decision to switch parties.

"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 Specter does not deserve reelection."


The survey indicates that Specter leads Democratic challenger Rep. Joe Sestak, a former Navy admiral, 53 percent to 30 percent. But that 23-point lead is down from a 32-point margin in July.

The White House has publicly backed Specter since he switched parties. Both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have teamed up with the senator at political events this fall.

The poll indicates Pennsylvania voters approve 47 to 45 percent of the job Specter's doing as senator, and by 49 to 45 percent the job Obama's doing in the White House. Both margins are within the survey's sampling error.

"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."

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted December 8-14, with 1,381 Pennsylvania voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is 2.6 percentage points for the overall survey.


Filed under: Arlen Specter • Pat Toomey
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. T'SAH from Virginia

    20 Points – than 1 Point – Tied to Not tied – Error rate 2.6%....We have a YEAR to go and NO ONE is thinking about the elections NOW...Dang!

    WOW – the president is FALLING too.... We FALL down but WE GET UP!!! President Obama's percentages were UP and DOWN while he was running his campaign and the MEDIA had a field day with that too. NO ONE can predict how a person feels when they are in the Voting Booth at the time they are VOTING.... CASE and POINT!

    December 18, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. Ed

    Senator Specter you can run but you can't hide. Lots of fleas like you will be sent packing next November.

    December 18, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. victim of the false prophet OBAMA

    waterloo for the past rino.

    December 18, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. Fitz in Texas

    Start packing up Arlen Specter because you're about to lose your job. Can't say many will be sorry when you leave.

    December 18, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. RichP the Pocono's

    Ah yes, Specter the turn coat, democrat in republican clothes, we are wise to you now specter, fool me once shame on you fool us twice same on us. He does whats good for Specter just like all the other elected and anointed ones in DC. Time for a complete house cleaning, replace them all with unowned independents this next two times around.

    December 18, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. chris l

    just the beginning of the end for the dems. will be a massacre in 2010. Count on it

    December 18, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. BillyG

    Former Vice-Admiral and Congressman Joe Sestak should be the next Senator from PA. he has all the bonfides required: current member of House, strong on national defense, , strong on supporting veterans, strong on health care reform. an intelligent, honest , thoughtful family man. He puts people first and isn't afraid to take a stand for his beliefs and his constituents. Arlen is done, he had a long ride. Toomey is a right wing nut job that doesn't represent the interests of most Pennsylvanians.

    December 18, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. Ron in California

    Spector is another guy whose time has past. Time to get him out of office. The other day he was talking about party loyalty as it relates to the Heacthcare bill and the Dems who aren't on board. What a hypocrtie,,,,Party Loyalty. This is the guy who changed Partys. Jerk

    December 18, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. Todd

    This report ignores the very real possibility that the race will be between retired Admiral and current congressman Joe Sestak and toomey. And once people pay any attention at all they will never vote toomey in this state.

    December 18, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Well, this is certainly a change from things in the past. I think that Toomey better get his war chest filled. I think he'll lose anyhow. He is too far reactionary for many residence of the Commonwealth.

    December 18, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Sniffit

    He's not a dem. and not a GOP, maybe a RINO? One thing is for sure, he has ONE concern, himself.

    December 18, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. unemployed by Obama and now a TPN member

    watch him closely, Specter will cheat his way in somehow, probably with fake votes.

    December 18, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. Mike

    Mr. Specter is becoming aware of a simple fact, no one trusts a traitor.

    December 18, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. thanks, but no thanks

    As pennsylvanian, l will be voting for Joe Sestak. Senator Specter keeps on mentioning how an MRI scan covered his brain tumor, yet he forgets that not all of his constituents can afford that MRI. l do not care about the deficit, l want public option now. WE DID NOT CARE ABOUT DEFICIT WHEN WENT TO WAR IN IRAQ, why now??? Public option is good for American people and the majority want it. That is the reason, l am voting for Joe Sestak. Since when the Republican became experts in the economy????

    December 18, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. southerncousin

    Arlen will fall. He ignores and demeans the public and the TEA parties like a typical libertard and he will go down.

    December 18, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. Barack reads his lies, Gov't grows, Unions Thrive and the Economy dies.

    Polls going in the right directly just give it another 11 months and we should have Toomey up by five points or more.

    December 18, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. David, MA

    Spector = Betrayer = BIG LOSER

    December 18, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Steve Illinois

    Another perfect example of what's wrong with Washington! Get elected as a Republican, take their money, then when it looks like the Dems may become more popular, "poof " "Now I'm a Democrat." This has nothing to do with the party or the people, it's all about getting himself re-elected, which is exactly why he needs to be kicked to the curb!

    December 18, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. Randy

    I get sick of hearing over and over the Repubs are in with big corporations, and that the same corporations are ruining the country. The same people who believe this are typically anti-capitalism and totally against the trickledown economics of the 80's. Now let’s take a look back at the almighty ones stimulus plan, that was fully supported by the Dems. Look at how the money was dispersed, did one individual person get a government check, or did Obama and company pass this money down through large corporations. Trickle down with government at the top. All 536 (1 Pres, 435 House, 100 Senate), are in the pockets of big corp. Our country as we knew it is gone, the people need to revolt.

    December 18, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |