Three More Blows For Specter

Today is not a good day to be former Repub Arlen Specter. First, a second polling firm now shows him well behind retired Admiral Rep. Joe Sestak in the PA-SEN Democratic primary. Second, Specter has fallen well behind Sestak in both state-wide favorability ratings and general election matchups, giving Sestak all the electability cards. Third, you just know Specter had to be rooting against Obama nominating Kagan for the Supreme Court, and that's going to hurt him.

Reflecting the same results as the Muhlenberg tracking poll, Rasmussen now shows Sestak in the lead. Both polls show a 47-42 race, right at the 5% MOE. This is the third day in a row Sestak has led the Muhlenberg poll and his largest lead yet; it is the first time he has led in a new Rasmussen poll. Muhlenberg has 11% undecided; Rasmussen 8%. (Rasmussen included "some other candidate" among the choices, which grabbed the other 3%.) These polls used different methodologies to find virtually the same results.

Another new Rasmussen poll shows that Sestak is surging almost as much with the general public as he is the Democratic electorate. Sestak's favorable rating is now 50%, tied with Toomey's 51% and far ahead of Specter's 41. If the general election were held today, Specter would lose to Toomey 50-38, whereas Sestak is virtually tied at 42-40. In February, both trailed 47-38. It's clear where the momentum lies.

Also, this nugget from NBC's First Read sugests the President's new nominee to the Supreme Court may have an impact on the PA-SEN race:

As we predicted in First Thoughts, Joe Sestak's campaign is seizing on Arlen Specter's vote against Elena Kagan in 2009, when the Senate was confirming her to be U.S. solicitor general. Specter voted against her before his switch to the Democratic Party...

But he added: "My opponent, Sen. Specter, has already made his views about the president's nominee clear by voting against her confirmation to be Solicitor General, even as seven of his fellow Republicans approved her nomination. I expect Sen. Specter may backtrack from his earlier vote on Ms. Kagan this week in order to help himself in the upcoming primary election, but the people of Pennsylvania have no way of knowing where he will stand after May 18.

PA-SEN: Sestak’s Lead Expands, Favorables Rise

Friday’s Muhlenberg tracking poll showed retired Admiral Rep. Joe Sestak taking the lead over recent Republican Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary. Saturday’s poll, released a few minutes ago, shows that lead growing.

From May 5-8, Sestak lead Specter 46-42 with 12% undecided, almost outside the 5% MOE. From May 4-7, Sestak lead Specter 44-42 with 14% undecided. Just as importantly, in the past week Sestak’s approval has risen 7 points from 45 to 52 while Specter’s has plummeted even more, from 58 to 50.

Regarding the general election, 35% have no opinion of Sestak, compared to just 14% for Specter. Specter had slightly better numbers than Sestak in the last general election poll, but if indie numbers are anything like Democratic numbers, then the undecideds suggest he’s at a November ceiling whereas Sestak still has room to grow. Pollster’s Harry Enten thinks that’s exactly the case, writing on his personal blog Friday that while “it is true that Specter only trails [Repub Toomey] by 6.9% (while Sestak trails by 9.1%), the Sestak vs. Toomey matchup also has a larger pool of undecided voters. Thus, Sestak would have a greater opportunity to pick up voters and close any gap between Toomey and himself.”

Enten’s analysis is of April polls, conducted well before Specter’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. Since then, his popularity has only fallen while Sestak’s has grown. Sestak’s new ad on Specter’s self-serving party switch as well as Specter’s own counterproductive attacks on Sestak’s military service have clearly taken their toll, so one can only assume that the numbers are even worse for Specter now. If another poll validates Sestak’s lead before the May 18 primary, we’ll know the race has a new favorite. There are 3-4 polls in the field now, so we should find out soon.

There's more...

PA-SEN: Sestak and Specter Tied

Yesterday morning, Marc Ambinder Tweeted, "Senior Dem Politico in DC thinks Sestak will beat Specter. WH puts odds at 50-50." Now we know why.

In the latest Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll of the PA-SEN Democratic primary, retired Admiral Rep. Joe Sestak is tied with incumbent Arlen Specter. Both candidates are polling at 43% with N = 410 LVs, a 5% MOE, live interviewers, and a time frame of May 3-6. In Muhlenberg's previous poll, conducted May 2-5, Specter led 45-40. Prior to that, it was 49-40 for Specter. While a tie is certainly within the MOE, you can't deny that these polls show a trend and that it's not good news for Specter. RCP shows an average of Specter up 3.4, but since they only include the latest poll from each firm, their numbers don't reflect the last week's trend. Also in the latest poll, Specter's favorable rating remains slightly higher than Sestak's, but his unfavorables are much higher - 54-34 Specter and 48-13 Sestak.

It's been a rough few weeks for Specter. He mused aloud that maybe he should have stayed a Republican, and Sestak has taken the opportunity to hit him hard for the party switch with a tough new ad:

Hey Arlen, still think it's a good idea to smear our vets for their service? That may work for Repubs, but you keep forgetting - you're a Democrat now, and we don't stand for that kind of anti-American bull.

Elsewhere in new polling, Dems continue to cruise toward victory in AZ-GOV against all candidates, including the pro-profiling incumbent Jan Brewer, and two separate polls show Sen. Patty Murray finally finding her footing against Repub Dino Rossi in WA-SEN.

PA-SEN: Sestak and Specter Tied

Yesterday morning, Marc Ambinder Tweeted, "Senior Dem Politico in DC thinks Sestak will beat Specter. WH puts odds at 50-50." Now we know why.

In the latest Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll of the PA-SEN Democratic primary, retired Admiral Rep. Joe Sestak is tied with incumbent Arlen Specter. Both candidates are polling at 43% with N = 410 LVs, a 5% MOE, live interviewers, and a time frame of May 3-6. In Muhlenberg's previous poll, conducted May 2-5, Specter led 45-40. Prior to that, it was 49-40 for Specter. While a tie is certainly within the MOE, you can't deny that these polls show a trend and that it's not good news for Specter. RCP shows an average of Specter up 3.4, but since they only include the latest poll from each firm, their numbers don't reflect the last week's trend. Also in the latest poll, Specter's favorable rating remains slightly higher than Sestak's, but his unfavorables are much higher - 54-34 Specter and 48-13 Sestak.

It's been a rough few weeks for Specter. He mused aloud that maybe he should have stayed a Republican, and Sestak has taken the opportunity to hit him hard for the party switch with a tough new ad:

Hey Arlen, still think it's a good idea to smear our vets for their service? That may work for Repubs, but you keep forgetting - you're a Democrat now, and we don't stand for that kind of anti-American bull.

Elsewhere in new polling, Dems continue to cruise toward victory in AZ-GOV against all candidates, including the pro-profiling incumbent Jan Brewer, and two separate polls show Sen. Patty Murray finally finding her footing against Repub Dino Rossi in WA-SEN.

New Polls: Senate Races in KY, PA, FL, LA, & MO and Generic Ballot

All sorts of new polls out this week; it’s a junkie’s dream. Good news for Democrats on the generic ballot and presidential approval, and in Senate races, decent news in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, bad but expected news in Florida and Louisiana, and just plain bad news in Missouri.

In Kentucky, a new PPP poll shows Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo leading AG Jack Conway in the Democratic primary for Senate, 36-27. I’m not sure what to make of this poll – the last public poll, from SurveyUSA, had Mongiardo up just 3, and that was before a number of corruption scandals became public. Conway internals had him leading after the scandals broke. I’m going to continue to assume that this race is a toss-up. Also in Kentucky, PPP finds Rand Paul leading Trey Grayson 46-28 in the Senate GOP primary, a much more expected result, and Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin tied at 24 in a way-too-early presidential primary poll.

Still in KY-SEN, Rasmussen finds that Conway is competitive in a general election while Mongiardo is not. You might find that odd, given that Conway is the progressive and this is Kentucky, but hey, ethics are ethics. Anyway, Rasmussen shows Conway with a 47-36 approval spread, as compared to Mongiardo’s 40-48. In the four hypothetical general election head-to-heads, no Repub candidate ever cracks 50%, and Conway always outpolls Mongiardo, trailing Grayson by 5 and Paul by 9 as compared to Mongiardo’s 14 and 16. Pretty compelling numbers, if electability is what you look for in a primary.

Leaving the south, in PA-SEN, two new polls show Admiral and decorated veteran Joe Sestak catching up with Swift Boating incumbent Arlen Specter, but he still has a long way to go. A new poll from Muhlenberg, their first with 402 LV Democrats and a 5% MOE, shows Sestak within the MOE at 46-42. Quinnipiac shows a much wider gap, with Specter leading 47-39, but Quinnipiac’s previous poll from a month earlier had it at 53-32. The takeaway is that Specter is still easily the favorite but that Sestak now has a real chance. At Pollster.com, Harry Enten analyzes different types of polls and their history in recent cycles, concluding that “this election is probably going to be a close one, and Specter better hope for a healthy turnout.”

Conway’s general and Sestak’s improving numbers are about the only good news out there for progressives. The first FL-SEN poll, from Rasmussen, to come out since Crist’s party switch is the worst news yet for Democrat Kendrick Meek: Crist 38, Rubio 34, Meek 17. The poll shows Rasmussen’s desire for money and speed – it’s N=500 in a one-day frame – but it nonetheless underlines what I’ve been saying for days. Crist’s move hurts Meek more than Rubio. Meek’s previous three-way low, also from Rasmussen, was 22, and his previous non-Rasmussen low was 24.

More bad news in both MO-SEN and LA-SEN. In Missouri, allegedly a toss-up and one of our best shots, Rasmussen has Repub Roy Blount leading Democrat Robin Carnahan 50-42. The good news is that it’s the right-leaning, automated phone response Rasmussen. Still, a trend is a trend, and Rasmussen’s previous two polls showed this race at 48-42 and 47-41. RCP gives him a lead of just one point, but that includes a September poll so it’s complete bunk. So far no good in Missouri. Louisiana isn’t much better, either. No, this race was never considered a toss-up, but with a horny felon running against a Blue Dog, you’d think we’d at least have a chance. And yet, admittedly Republican pollster Lane Grigsby of Opinion Research shows David “I like my prostitutes in diapers” Vitter leading Rep. Charlie Melancon 49-31. Vitter has a favorable/unfavorable of 55036, lower than Gov. Jindal (R)’s but higher than senator Landrieu or President Obama’s. The RCP average is Vitter by 15.3, which would actually be higher if they didn’t include numbers from last July.

But let’s end on a bright spot. In the Gallup generic ballot, Democrats are holding steady in a tie at 45-45. On the one hand, Democrats are in their worst generic ballot position ever, but on the other hand, this is the second week in a row Gallup has found a 45-45 tie, and it follows Democratic leads from YouGov/Polimetrix and ABC/Washington Post. Only the right-leaning Rasmussen finds a Repub lead.

The new CBS/New York Times poll also gives good news for Democrats. The President clocks in at a 51-39 approval rating. In previous monthly CBS polls, he was at 50-40, 49-41, and 46-45. Quibble with the numbers, but a trend is a trend. Maybe he’s above 50, maybe not, but President Obama and even Congressional Democrats have only improved their position over the past few months. CBS/NYT finds similar trends on specific issues, even those where the net remains negative.

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