Poll: Specter Way Down In Republican Primary

March 25, 2009 5:20 a.m.

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania shows just how much trouble Arlen Specter could have in his 2010 Republican primary. Against his 2004 challenger Pat Toomey, who is expected to run again this time, he’s stuck in the twenties.

The numbers: Toomey 41%, Specter 27%. Specter’s loss of his Republican base also leaves him with weak numbers for a general election, with only 31% against a generic Democrat’s 33%.

Specter remains somewhat popular with the overall electorate, though, with a 52% approval to 33% disapproval — the kind of number that any incumbent could take into a general election. But the catch is that the approval comes from Democrats — among Republicans, he’s at only 36% approval and 52% disapproval.

Keep in mind that Pennsylvania uses a closed primary, and the number of registered Republicans has fallen since 2004 — when Specter only held off Toomey by a 51%-49% margin — leaving a very conservative base. And Specter’s vote for the stimulus bill certainly can’t have helped him.

It’s numbers like these that led many observers to think Specter’s best bet to stay in office could be to switch parties. But now that he’s announced his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, he’s probably cut off that option, as well.

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