July 22nd, 2009
10:41 AM ET
12 years ago

Poll: Specter's re-election lead disappears

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/22/art.specter0722.gi.jpg caption="A new poll out Wednesday has bad news for Sen. Specter's re-election bid."]
(CNN) - A new poll of Pennsylvania voters suggests that Sen. Arlen Specter's double-digit lead over Republican challenger Pat Toomey in his bid for re-election next year has disappeared.

Forty-five percent of people questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday say they'd back Specter if the 2010 election were held today, with 44 percent supporting Toomey. That's a dramatic change from early May, soon after Specter switched from the Republican to Democratic parties, when a Quinnipiac poll indicated Specter held a 20 point lead over Toomey.

By a 49 to 40 percent margin, the poll indicates that Specter does not deserve to be re-elected to a sixth term next year. And 47 percent approve of how Specter's handling his duties as senator, matching his lowest approval rating ever in Quinnipiac polling. Forty-six percent disapprove, the highest disapproval rating ever.

"Sen. Arlen Specter's 20-point lead over former Congressman Pat Toomey less than three months ago has virtually vanished," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Voters see Sen. Specter much less favorably than they once did and are net negative about giving him a sixth term in the U.S. Senate."

The fiscally conservative Toomey is a former congressman and former head of the Club for Growth, a limited-government, anti-tax organization. Toomey nearly beat Specter in the 2004 GOP senate primary.

Toomey was leading Specter in polls of a hypothetical Republican Senate primary earlier this year, before Specter switched his party identity from Republican to Democrat. Specter said then the difficulty in winning the Republican primary was a factor in his decision to switch parties.

The survey indicates that Specter leads Rep. Joe Sestak 55 percent to 23 percent in a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup. Sestak, the two-term congressman from Pennsylvania's 7th District has said that he will challenge Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic Senate nomination next year.

Sestak just finished up a three-week tour of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, and it's possible he may have an official announcement regarding a Senate bid now that the tour is over.

Specter has the backing of President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted July 14-19, with 1,173 Pennsylvania voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Filed under: Arlen Specter • Joe Sestak • Pat Toomey • Pennsylvania • Poll
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Stuffit

    And, the election is only 16 months away! By that time, people will be so fed up with how the government is going that having a D behind your name will be as big (if not bigger) curse than having an R behind was in 2008.

    I personally think if anyone running has the title Senator or Representative, that should be the kiss of death. If you really want some change you can really believe in, vote non-incumbent.

    July 22, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. Johnny DC

    Specter is a joke. I am still in awe that his party-switching speech actually cited "unelectability" as a Republican. What a boneheaded move.

    Elect me as your guy, as a Democrat. Suckers. I promise I'll try not to still vote near the middle on everything.

    If Democrats want a Democrat, they should vote for a Democrat in their primaries. Not a wanna-be middle of the road loser who only wants to secure his legacy.

    July 22, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. Lee

    Poor Pennsylvania has to choose between two Conservative Republicans. One is a little less Conservative than the other, so I guess I would hold my nose and vote for Specter – the lesser of the two evils.

    The last thing America needs is another Republican Senator.

    July 22, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Deb n Texas

    You go Penn State. The people of Penn is not stupid – they know what the only reason is Spector change to Democrat – TO WIN. Well, that means that he would do anything to win and that's not good – so Spector buy you a new rocking chair and stay home.

    July 22, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. bob in LA

    Please find REAL news to report! all these silly polls that fluctuate like the weather do no good except to give you filler space in your news cycles.
    This is true of the Obama's poll numbers as well. If youi REALLY talk to people instead of asking loaded questions, most know that the economy was not going to all of a sudden turn 180 degrees.
    Spend as much time on the details of the healthcare plan as you do reporting polls and maybe we would all understand a little better what is being porposed. That by the way, would be REAL NEWS.

    July 22, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Zero.

    But is Barack Obama for real? Or pure fiction.

    July 22, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. TangledThorns

    I hope Pennsylvania votes that slime out of office. Though it'll be interesting to see if he tries to join the GOP after they retake control next year.

    July 22, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Gary

    I liked Spector and voted for him before and I don't even care much if he is Republican or Democrat (I'm independent). But that so-called "stimulus bill" was nothing but wasteful pork spending. We borrowed a huge amount from our children and grandchildren to pay for that pork. We have become a weak country that would rather borrow from our children than face a tough recession. Very sad. I'm disappointed that he voted for it and I think that it is time to have a new Senator from PA. I hope that we have a strong Republican and a strong Democratic candidate to challenge Spector. I'll keep a open mind about the challengers but I won't be voting for Spector.

    July 22, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Kevin in Ohio

    @John in PA July 22nd, 2009 10:56 am ET

    The poll's sample size, 511 Republicans and 512 Democrats, isn't exactly representative of Pennsylvania.

    You really need a lesson on statistics and mathematics. Polls are usually accurate within a few percentage points (the "margin of error"), and this is based on sound mathematical theory. You must be a liberal since you don't understand logic.

    July 22, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Actually, Spector just flat out needs to retire from public service. Having "jumped ship" twice is an indication of his "loyalties."

    July 22, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. No Incumbents 2010

    The Dems are idiots for jumping over the cliff with Spector. His changing parties based solely on political ambition will bring down the Dems statewide.

    July 22, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. curtis

    Specter will win,because Obama will still have enough popularity to pull Arlen over the top. (MARK MY WORDS)

    July 22, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. phoenix86

    Its the Obama effect.

    It makes leads in political races disappear.
    It makes jobs disappear.
    It makes national defense disappear.
    It makes your future disappear.

    But it leaves you with a new record debt.

    Change you were duped into believing.

    July 22, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Specter sold his GOP soul

    When Specter became a Democrats after a lifelong career as a Democrat he was labeled a political mercenary who would sell his votes and his political beliefs to any party that could get him elected. PA voters now realize that Arlen no longer has any principles. Ironically, with the decline in Obama;s approval ratings, by the mid term elections his jump to the Dems could be a big negative and he might have been able to get reelected without selling his soul

    July 22, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Vote out all incumbents.

    July 22, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. donttreadonme

    Specter' you were elected as a Republican and switched parties for political gain. Vote however you choose but switching parties mid-term is a slap in the face to those that supported you and elected you.

    You jumped ship when things looked bad for Repubs and now are drowning!

    July 22, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. Jimmy the Greek

    Once Arlene loses the Democrat nomination.... he will attempt to run as an Independent.

    Specter is a leech that needs to be cut off.... just like Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy.

    July 22, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. gary

    all i know about arlen is he was the one who came up with the ridiculous single bullet theory in the kennedy assassination this little fairy tale lets me know all i need to know about a turncoat

    July 22, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. Gator

    Hopefully it disappears completely.

    July 22, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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