Needless to say, such a sounding is far from scientific. It’s anecdotal by definition. But I’ve been reading the various emails we’re getting from people in Pennsylvania — or people in touch with family in PA. And there does seem to be a pretty clear pattern. Of the Democrats writing in, what we’re hearing is from people who didn’t seem particularly invested in either Specter or Sestak but have come out for Sestak because of a mixture of his ads and their belief that he’s just a stronger candidate versus Toomey in the general and a more reliable one — both ideologically and in terms of longevity — if he wins the general.
What’s interesting to me is that I know a lot of reasons why many Dems would be against Specter — especially the more party-identified Democrats who show up for primaries. If they’ve been around for a while they’ve been used to voting against Arlen for decades. And he was foolishly candid about the fairly mercenary reasons for his party switch. So that all makes sense. Sestak of course is part of the left-leaning, counter-establishment push that’s behind candidacies like Sestak’s and Halter’s in Arkansas. And so support for him on that count has a logic to it too. What gets my attention about these emails though is that they’re from people who really didn’t have a strong commitment either way. But — and again, totally anecdotal reports — they’re breaking toward Sestak.
Here’s one of those emails from TPM Reader EA …
You may know me for my New Orleans and Louisiana tips but deep down I’ll always be a Philadelphian first. My whole family and all my friends are up there and having spoken recently to many of them, I have to tell you that I would put big money down on Sestak winning and winning big.
My pop is one of the more loyal Democrats you could imagine. The guy is partisan. He votes for whomever he thinks has the better chance of beating the Republican. Period. That is what motivates him.
He will be voting for Sestak this Tuesday. He just decided this last week after concluding that Sestak had a decent chance of beating Specter and a better chance of beating Toomey.
President Obama should stay out of Democratic primaries where both candidates are respectable individuals - if they’ve got some nasty dirt on Sestak they better friggin come out with hit already - because national Dems constantly eff up their decisions to get involved in these races. If I had contributed to the DSCC in this cycle, I would be absolutely effing furious that they put money behind Specter in a primary cycle. That is an inexcusable waste of money given our overall vulnerability during this midterm year.
I remember when former City Councilman and current Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter and Rep. Chakah Fattah were locked in a bitter primary battle in 2007 for the party’s nomination for Mayor of Philadelphia. Nutter was extraordinarily popular within a diverse array of Philadelphia voting blocks and was surging in the polls. Rep. Fattah called Obama for a favor and got his endorsement and fundraising help. Obama probably saw this as an important thing to do given Fattah’s experience within the CBC and considerable gravitas within his Philadelphia congressional district. Fattah probably suggested he might be endorsing Hillary Clinton in the event that Obama declined to get involved.
Well, Nutter won that primary and won it easily. Then he won the general election by the largest margin in Philadelphia history. And he was still the city’s most popular elected official in March of 2008 when he endorsed Hillary Clinton in advance of the Pennsylvania Presidential Primary, which Obama lost.
Pennsylvania Dems have been on a huge roll over the last 8-10 years mostly because PA Dems have worked really really hard at the grassroots level to upend entrenched and corrupt machines at the local level. Nutter represented change in Philadelphia, a break from the old machine credentials of Fattah. And Sestak most certainly represents that over Specter. In short, Nutter and Sestak are precisely the kind of politicians Obama should be in league with because they are part of the same reform wave that helped sweep new Dems into power in ‘06-‘08. When someone like Obama suddenly shifts to help prop up the PA party establishment that has been bleeding primary elections (for good reason), it kinda makes him look like a moron.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.