A new poll of Pennsylvania from Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies shows that former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-PA), who is reportedly considering a bid for the Senate seat now held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, would currently lead conservative candidate Pat Toomey in a 60%-23% landslide for the Republican primary.
Toomey’s big lead over Specter in the primary polls spurred the incumbent to switch parties, which in turn created the question of whether the Republicans were guaranteed Toomey as the nominee, or whether another Republican could take him. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who is also vice chair of the NRSC, has openly said Toomey cannot win, so the establishment could understandably be eager for someone else. And if Ridge gets in, they just might have it.Another key finding: In a general election match-up, Ridge currently leads Specter by 48%-41%, compared to Toomey trailing Specter by 49%-40%. The big question is whether Ridge’s support is truly solid, or whether going through an actual campaign could wear him down through attacks coming from the right. (See an early sample of that right here.)
From the pollster’s analysis, which reads practically like a draft movement’s exhortation for Ridge to get in:
But, the strength of Ridge’s candidacy is remarkable – fully two-thirds of voters in the state have a favorable impression of him, he leads the GOP primary by nearly 40 points, and he’s leading the incumbent US Senator by seven points on the ballot.
Tom Ridge would be a very significant obstacle in Arlen Specter’s drive for re-election.
Late Update: Toomey spokesperson Nachama Soloveichik has issued this statement:
“This is a poll commissioned by Specter supporters and conducted by Specter’s polling firm. It’s not surprising that it would show their preferred candidate ahead. Tom Ridge is an honorable person, with very high name ID, so there’s no doubt he would begin a campaign with high poll numbers. But in the one year’s time in which Republican primary voters would come to know the countless similarities between the voting records of Ridge and Specter, attitudes toward the former governor would undoubtedly change. Pat Toomey is the candidate with the consistent record of standing up for taxpayers that is needed to win the GOP primary, who has a track record of winning general elections in Democratic-leaning areas, and who even this poll shows is within close striking distance of Specter in the general election.”
The poll was commissioned by an RNC member from Pennsylvania. And while it’s true that POS was Specter’s pollster for years, they very publicly severed ties with him after he switched parties.