March 25, 2009, 9:05 a.m.
By Shira Toeplitz
Roll Call Staff
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) trailed his likely primary opponent by double digits in a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University. Former Rep. Pat Toomey led Specter 41 percent to 27 percent in a hypothetical matchup, with 28 percent undecided.
The survey results spell out just how much political trouble lies ahead for Specter, who announced Tuesday on the Senate floor that he would reverse his previous position and not vote for cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act, effectively killing the sweeping legislation being heavily promoted by labor unions. Toomey, who has indicated he will run against Specter in 2010 but not yet formally announced, has made Specter’s previous vote for cloture on EFCA a top issue.
But according to the Quinnipiac survey data, it was another vote that marred Specter’s reputation with his home-state Republicans. Only 25 percent of Republicans surveyed approved of Specter’s support for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, while 70 percent disapproved.
Specter trailed Toomey despite being much better known in Pennsylvania. Specter received a 45 percent favorable rating from those surveyed — down from 55 percent in a similar survey from August 2008. Toomey had a 14 percent favorable rating, but 78 percent of respondents said they were not familiar with the former Congressman.
If Specter wins his party’s nod next year, the poll also showed that his re-election campaign could be in trouble. Matched against a generic Democrat, Specter got 33 percent and the Democrat had 31 percent.
There is only one announced candidate in the race — former National Constitution Center President Joe Torsella. However, several other Democrats, including a couple of Members, are considering running.
The survey, taken March 19-23, polled 1,056 Keystone State voters — including 423 Republicans — and had an overall margin of error of 3 points.