PA-Sen: Joe Sestak Closes the Gap on Arlen Specter

45, 29, 19, 20, 32.  What are those numbers?  Those numbers are the gaps between recent Republican Arlen Specter and Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak in the five public, independent, non-partisan polls of the 2010 Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania from May to July.

13.  What's that number?  It's the gap between Specter and Congressman Sestak in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll.  Specter's lead over Congressman Sestak is only 47-34 according to Rasmussen.  Rasmussen's last poll, in June, showed the 19-point deficit, a 51-32 result.

Rasmussen also reminds us that Specter still remains "much better known" across the state than Congressman Sestak.  In other words, Congressman Sestak still has plenty of room to grow in terms of name ID as his campaign gets underway, but has already cut his deficit by a third.  Also, this is the very first non-Franklin & Marshall poll (F&M's numbers were relatively very low for both candidates) to show Specter under 50%.

Additionally, the Rasmussen poll found the following:

Among voters who favor the congressional health care plan, Specter leads 55% to 26%. However, among those who oppose the plan, Sestak leads 61% to 25%.

Assuming that those who favor health care reform are more liberal Democrats and opponents are more conservative, this would indicate that Congressman Sestak has already made inroads into the moderate-to-conservative Democrats that one would think ought to lean toward Specter.  If Congressman Sestak can hold these Democrats while later making inroads with more liberal Democrats (perhaps by pointing out that Specter was a pretty staunch ally of George W. Bush's), the gap between the two should tighten further still.

This poll is bad news for Specter and great news for Congressman Sestak - not just because it shows Congressman Sestak closing the gap, but also because it adds credibility to his campaign.  Specter winning is not remotely a foregone conclusion.  The more that PA-Dem primary voters recognize that, the more open they'll be to Congressman Sestak's candidacy, and the less power the Ed Rendell machine will have to stop the political dam from breaking.

As polls continue to tighten, Congressman Sestak's fundraising continues to grow, and endorsements for Congressman Sestak's campaign get announced, a critical mass of political will to unseat Specter will be achieved.  You can help that critical mass get reached with a contribution to Congressman Sestak via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Why the uninformed scream the loudest

Technically speaking, I'm a weekend frontpager - but here it is 8:30pm with only four posts today and Jerome busy at Netroots Nation, so I feel it's my duty to step up to the plate. ;) Cross-posted from Blue Moose Democrat.

Now here's an interesting theory that may help explain not just the town hall disruptions but the birther movement and the anti-science crowd too.

We've all seen the clips from yesterday's three most disturbing town hall meetings. Arlen Specter's has gotten a lot of play, and there were several threats of violence outside Obama's New Hampshire meeting (though fortunately everything inside went smoothly). Getting slightly less attention was Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who I thought did a pretty good job of handling things.

There's another video of how McCaskill handled things after the police had to escort a protestor out of the room, but I think the money quote is from the video above: "I don't understand this rudeness... Do you all think that you're persuading people when you shout out like that?" That's a good question, and one I asked a few weeks ago about abortion protestors. How can anyone possibly think that shouting is more intellectual or effective than reasoning? "I'm sorry, you almost won the vote, but you were two decibels shy!"

A relative of mine showed me a science blog that suggests the answer is the Dunning-Kruger effect, defined by Wikipedia as

an example of cognitive bias in which "...people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it". They therefore suffer an illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average. This leads to a perverse result where people with less competence will rate their ability more highly than people with relatively more competence. It also explains why competence may weaken the projection of confidence because competent individuals falsely assume others are of equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."

In other words, people who can't get it think they actually get it better than everone else and people who do get it think everyone else can too. It is the affliction of those whose arguments have been completely destroyed and are left with no evidence, and yet think they won the debate anyway - like the birthers. It is also why the smart ones don't understand the failure to communicate and keep pressing. If this theory sounds overly simplistic or arrogant, it's worth pointing out that it's based on a study by two Cornell professors called "Unskilled and Unaware of it." It certainly explains a lot about the national discourse.

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Specter Town Hall

Are people watching this? He's getting yelled at by right-wingers, and it's live on all three cable networks.


Update [2009-8-11 13:48:53 by Charles Lemos]: Here's some raw video from the Associated Press.

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Kicking Off the Expand the Map! ActBlue Page for the 2010 Cycle

Last cycle, I started an ActBlue page specifically for Democratic Senate candidates working to pick up seats held by Republicans.  I named it the Expand the Map! ActBlue page because the goal was to expand the map of competitive Senate seats.  The effort was a big success, achieving over 300 contributions and $40,000 for the Democratic Senate candidates included on the page.

Today, I kicked off the 2010 edition of the Expand the Map! ActBlue page with three Democratic candidates for Senate: Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, New Hampshire Congressman Paul Hodes, and Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak.

Click here to visit the Expand the Map! ActBlue page!

In New Hampshire and Missouri, we have the strongest candidates available, candidates who will also make terrific Democratic Senators.  In both races, however, fundraising will always be a top priority.  Missouri Republican Roy Blunt will be able to tap his lobbyist buddies and corrupt cronies for cash ad nauseum.  No doubt the NRSC will also make holding New Hampshire a top priority; and the D.C. GOP establishment has already begun fawning over Palin-esque quitter Kelly Ayotte.  Carnahan and Hodes need our support!  A few years back, all four of New Hampshire's and Missouri's combined Senate seats were held by Republicans.  Wouldn't it feel great to have flipped all four?

In Pennsylvania, y'all know the deal.  Arlen Specter was a Republican Senator for decades.  Even though he changed his Party affiliation, he's still not a Democrat as far as I'm concerned.  Joe Sestak is a real Democrat, and he - not Specter - should win the Democratic primary.  But Specter has a significant edge when it comes to campaign cash; and, Ed Rendell will do all he can to shut off Sestak's fundraising.  Let Specter, Rendell, etc. know that they can't shut down the netroots by supporting Sestak!

Please, please, please help kick off the 2010 cycle's Expand the Map! effort by sending these highly deserving Democrats a few bucks.  $100 makes a huge difference, $20 makes a huge difference, $10 makes a huge difference!  Hop over to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page and make your voice heard.

This is not just a contribution to these Democrats' campaigns.  This is a contribution toward slowing and eventually stopping Republican obstruction in the U.S. Senate.  Thank you SO much!

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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Rabbis Send Specter a Message: Support Employee Free Choice

Today, a coalition of Philadelphia-area rabbis and rabbinical students will meet with Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter to make the case for the Employee Free Choice Act.

Dozens of Pennsylvania rabbis and rabbinical students signed an open letter in support of Employee Free Choice, organized by the Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee (JLC), and will deliver it today to Specter. Specter is a key vote in the fight for workers'; freedom to form unions and bargain--a fight that these rabbis know is critical to our economy and to basic fairness.

The meeting and letter are part of a larger outreach effort by the JLC to promote workers' freedom to form unions and bargain. These values, say a growing coalition of rabbis, are a key part of the Jewish tradition of supporting the dignity of workers and the strength of communities.

The new site, Rabbis for Workers' Choice, highlights the letter to Specter and includes other resources on Judaism, social justice and the Employee Free Choice Act.

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