The Fall Of Arlen Specter
With only a week to go until Pennsylvania Democrats head to polls to pick their Senate nominee, things are very suddenly not looking good for Arlen Specter. First, there’s a new Rasmussen poll that shows Specter falling behind Sestak for the first time since the race began:
Congressman Joe Sestak has moved ahead of incumbent Arlen Specter in their Senate primary match-up with just over a week left before Pennsylvania Democrats go to the polls to pick their nominee.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Democratic Primary voters in the state shows Sestak earning 47% of the vote while Specter picks up 42%. This marks the first time Sestak has held the advantage in the race.
The numbers for Sestak have been going in the opposite direction from 37% in March to 42% a month ago to 47% today.
A daily tracking poll from Morning Call and Muhlenberg College also shows Sestak leading Specter, and suggests that the surge for Sestak may still be gaining steam, as this chart from RealClearPolitics demonstrates quite clearly:
This latest surge from Sestak is obviously the reason that Specter and the Pennsylvania Democrats are pulling out all the stops in the final week of the campaign, including a new ad that started running yesterday starring President Obama. Of course, the Sestak campaign has been quick to point out that, six years ago, Specter was campaigning with a very different President.
If these trends continue, then Specter would clearly seem to be toast at this point, a development which Democrats may end up savoring both for it’s political irony, and because recent polls show Sestak performing much better against Pat Toomey, the inevitable Republican nominee.
In either case, it would appear that, like Bob Bennett, we won’t have Arlen Specter to kick around for very much longer.
Update: Greg Sargent reports that there will be more evidence of Sestak’s surge released tomorrow:
Tomorrow, a third poll will come out finding Joe Sestak is leading Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Dem primary. The poll, from Franklin & Marshall College, will mirror others showing Sestak ahead by around five points, the poll’s director confirms to me.
Anything can happen between now and next Tuesday. But Sestak might really pull it off.
Terry Madonna, the director of the Franklin & Marshall poll, just gave me an interesting overview of the race, explaining in a nutshell why Sestak could prevail, though he cautioned that a Specter win is still a very real possibility.
Madonna’s take: Dem primary voters haven’t voted for Specter for decades. Why would they start now?
Madonna pointed out that for most of the race, a huge bloc of Dem primary voters, perhaps as high as 40%, have been undecided. They are only focusing on the race just now, with both campaigns airing out their messages on TV.
“If they hadn’t agreed to vote for Specter after 29 years, why are they going to change in a month?” Madonna asks, in a reference to Specter’s long career as a Republican in the Senate.