Poll shows Specter in serious trouble

A conservative challenger leads the Pennsylvania senator by 14 points.

Published March 25, 2009 2:15PM (EDT)

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., really did have good reason to announce Tuesday that he'll vote against cloture for the Employee Free Choice Act -- he needed to stop the bleeding.

Specter has been dogged even more than usual lately by pressure from conservatives, who've always distrusted him and were especially angry over his vote in favor of the stimulus. Now he's facing a very tough reelection fight, in part because former Rep. Pat Toomey, who nearly defeated him in the 2004 Republican primary, is poised for a rematch, and this time Toomey might win.

A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday showed Toomey with a substantial lead over the incumbent, 41-27. That's despite a relative lack of name recognition for Toomey, as 73 percent of Republicans said they don't know who he is.

"Pennsylvania Republicans are so unhappy with Sen. Specter’s vote for President Barack Obama’s Stimulus Package and so-called pork barrel spending that they are voting for a former Congressman they hardly know," Quinnipiac assistant director Clay F. Richards said in a release accompanying the poll.

Republicans hold Specter in pretty low esteem; he gets a 47-29 unfavorable score from them. He's much more popular with Democrats and independents, however -- 60 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of him, as do 41 percent of independents. But the senator has already ruled out running as anything but a Republican in 2010, and the things he'll have to do to win the GOP primary will knock down those high favorable numbers and put him in an even more precarious position for the general election.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Arlen Specter D-pa.