Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Is the Sestak campaign (and reality) finally catching up with poor old Arlen Specter?


The congressman finally has some news to smile about.

"U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak is within striking distance of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, trailing the long-time incumbent 47 - 39 percent among likely primary voters, compared to his 53 - 32 percent gap April 7, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today."

by Ken

I'm not normally a poll-obsessive kind of guy, but I took notice of two polls whose results were released today, the Quinnipiac one referenced above (one of the most respected of the polling concerns), done among likely Pennsylvania Democratic primary voters from April 28 to May 2, which has Specter leading 47 percent to 39 percent, down from 53-32 on April 7, and a Muhlenberg/Morning Call tracking poll, which accords well with the Quinnipiac result for May 2 and for two days later shows the Specter-Sestak race rightening to 46-42. In other words, at the very least these results show the race narrowed to single digits.

Regular readers will recall the fascination and admiration I've voiced for the powerfully issues-based campaign the former admiral, now U.S. representative, has waged. I described it as the campaign you'd design from your Civics 101 class. The only thing missing, I kept thinking, was any indication that Pennsylvania primary voters were getting it.

Which is why I'm passing on poll results, which suggest that Pennsylvania primary voters are starting to get it. As Quinnipiac University Pollling Institute's assistant director, Peter A. Brown, says, "The Senate race is closing and could be headed for a close finish."

In part that's changed because the cash-conscious Sestak campaign has only recently begun spending significantly on TV. In part it's changed because, well, at this stage in his career Specter is too exposed a target to be able to withstand attacks on his attack-worthy career indefinitely. If there were a month more to the campaign than there is, and the Sestak campaign had enough financial resources, I think he'd be a dead duck.

Here's a comment from Quinnipiac's Peter Brown:
Sen. Specter switched parties because he was worried about losing in the Republican primary. His big lead among likely Democratic primary voters has disappeared and although he remains ahead, momentum is clearly on Sestak's side at this point. As a Republican, Specter did well among Democrats, but large majorities of Democrats have been voting against him for 30 years and that might be a tough habit for many of them to break. In addition, Specter's big lead in name identification has begun to erode as Sestak television commercials introduce him to the voters outside his suburban Philadelphia base.

I guess what still flabbergasts me is that Quinnipiac still finds voters giving the abominable Arlen a 57-31 percent favorability rating, though even that's down from 60-26. But still, what are those 57 percent thinking? Can they really be oblivious to Senator Specter's autocratic high-handedness (perhaps he's so accustomed to thinking of himself as a citadel of principle that even he doesn't notice that his line-in-the-sand stands rarely have anything to do with principle), the almost invariable craven retreat that follows any of his self-importantly trumpeted stands that actually do reflect principle of some sort (you always want to be sure to check how he finally votes, paying no attention to the stern speeches that preceded), the double dealing and willingness to be bought by anyone who's buying.

Maybe voters are finally tuning in to the strong, principled stands the Sestak campaign has been staking out on scores of real-world issues, and maybe not so much liking what they're hearing from the guy they thought they knew so well, like his shocking attempt to smear his opponent's military record.

If we go back to the Muhlenberg/Morning Call tracking polls, its May 2 result actually gibes well with the Quinnipiac result, showing Specter ahead 48-42. But the tracking poll also has numbers for May 3 and May 4: 49-40 and (are you ready for this?) 46-42 (okay, I know I already revealed this above, but still, are you ready for it?), with undecideds up from 11 to 12!

You can contribute to Joe's campaign directly through ActBlue.


What PA governor's race, you say? You and me both, and perhaps the voters of Pennsylvania as well.

In what Quinnipiac describes as "a field of unknowns" to replace term-limited Gov. Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, who has done the most serious TV spending, has jumped out to what looks like a commanding lead, polling at 36 percent, as against 9 percent for Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel and 8 percent each for Auditor General Jack Wagner and State Sen. Tony Williams. Quinnipiac notes that in April, Onorato was at 20 percent, Hoeffel 15 percent, Wagner 13 percent and Williams 5 percent. Even though "37 percent are undecided and 60 percent of likely primary voters who express a choice say they might change their mind," the Onorato margin looks awfully hard to beat.

Says Quinnipiac's Peter Brown:
Onorato has outspent his opponents on the campaign trail, especially on television, and it shows in the results. Although only slightly more than half of likely voters know enough about him to have an opinion, 46 - 5 percent favorable, 73 to 77 percent of Democrats don't know enough about any of the other three to have an opinion about them. At this point, less than 20 percent of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Wagner, Hoeffel or Williams. That is a big advantage for Onorato entering the home stretch of the campaign.

Brown's overall reading of the results announced today: ""With only two weeks until the May 18 primary, Onorato can feel somewhat confident, while Sen. Specter should be more concerned."

On the Republican side, Attorney General Tom Corbett appears to have a lock on the gubernatorial nomination, and at present is polling well ahead of Onorato. But of course Onorato remains largely unknown to state voters, a condition that could change between now and November.

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At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 4:17 AM, Anonymous Lee said...


I'm in PA...Specifically Montgomery County. There's LOTS of momentum going into our primary, but's its going to be close and ALL come to turnout.

ESPECIALLY for Joe. I'm phone banking for him and working the polls primary day. The Governors race...too complicated for this small space. Joe Hoeffel is a great friend to us Progressives here, but its unlikely he will win. AND Rendell and the Philly Dem machine can't stand him

At 9:40 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Thanks as always for the input, Lee. The gubernatorial nomination seems to have been decided while nobody was looking, and I'm sorry but not surprised to hear that there was a better candidate available.

As for the Senate race, well, the choice seems so clear-cut that we can only hope Dem primary voters catch on! Let's hope your hard work is rewarded.



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