Two polls are out in Pennsylvania on a prospective GOP Senate nomination fight between Senator Arlen Specter and his 2004 primary challenger, former Congressman Pat Toomey. They are front-page news across the state today in an AP story.
The Quinnipiac University poll (Connecticut based) shows Toomey leading Specter 41-27 among Pennsylvania Republicans, with 28 per cent undecided. The poll was head-to-head, leaving out recently announced candidate Peg Luksik, a pro-life activist. The poll also says almost half of the GOP electorate has an unfavorable opinion of Specter, while 45 percent of state voters as a whole have a favorable opinion of Specter — this down from a 56 percent rating in November. Quinnipiac interviewed 1,056 Pennsylvania voters between March 19-March 23rd. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.8 percentage points for 423 GOP voters polled.
Poll number two is the Franklin and Marshall College survey, which threw Luksik into the mix. Specter won this poll, with 33 percent to 18 percent for Toomey and 2 percent for Luksik. The F&M poll interviewed 586 voters, including 211 Republicans. The sampling error for the Republican voters in the poll, taken between March 17-March 22, was plus or minus 6.7 percent.
The story, by reporter Peter Jackson, notes that the results were announced one day after Specter announced he would be opposing the so-called “Card Check” bill that would make it easier for workers to unionize by shutting down the secret ballot process. Radio ads have been running in the state asking Pennsylvanians to contact Specter and demand that he oppose Card Check.
In 2004, Toomey lost to Specter in the GOP primary by 17,000 votes out of 1 million cast. It was Specter’s toughest primary fight since winning his first primary for the Senate in 1980. His recent vote as one of only three GOP votes in the entire Congress supporting the Obama stimulus plan has angered many state Republicans. Toomey, thought to be considering a race for the open seat for governor (Governor Ed Rendell is barred from a third term), has recently had second thoughts, indicating in press reports that he is now considering a second race for the Senate.
Specter’s card check opposition comes a handful of days before the state’s conservatives gather in Harrisburg for the annual Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, where they will hear from Toomey and radio talk show host and columnist Michael Reagan. The PLC has become a popular statewide version of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
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