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.
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