A GOP Pick-Up Opportunity in Pennsylvania

Posted: Jun 04, 2009 4:00 PM
Of the 13 Democratic seats up for reelection in 2010, Republicans have a decent chance of picking up three:  Connecticut, Illinois, and now Pennsylvania.  Two recent polls in Pennsylvania offer good news for Republicans hoping to put Arlen Specter’s seat back in the GOP column.

Only three weeks ago, a Quinnipiac poll had former Congressman PatToomey down 20 points, but Toomey has since closed that gap to within single digits. Fast forward to today and their latest poll showing the now Democratic Specter’s numbers falling and his Republican challenger Pat Toomey’s rising:

Specter: 46% ....Toomey: 37%....Undecided: 14%

Keep in mind, this is a General Election poll now that their matchup would be in the fall and not in the GOP primary.While it is still very early in the election cycle, these numbers tell us a lot about Specter’s vulnerability.  When a thirty-year incumbent is below 50%, you know he’s in trouble.

But it gets better.  A couple days later, Susquehanna Polling and Research released another general election poll with the exact same numbers.  What is even more interesting about the Susquehanna poll is its results among “super voters.”

Any pollster worth his salt knows that a poll is only as accurate as the screen used to decide who to include in the poll.  For example, if you poll a group of voters who are registered to vote, but who have never voted in a Senate election, it won’t provide a very accurate picture of the electorate. 

The Susquehanna poll used a “likely voter” screen to establish what it calls “super voters.”  These voters have voted in a Pennsylvania general election three or four times out of the past four elections.  That means there is a very good chance they will be voting in the Senate election in November 2010.  When you look at those numbers Toomey is only trailing by 3 points.

Specter: 42%...Toomey: 39%

This means if the election were held today, there is a good chance Pat Toomey would win.  When a well-known incumbent can barely muster 42% of the electorate’s support, there is a very good chance that seat will switch to the GOP.