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Specter leads Sestak by 15—but Toomey still ahead of both

Senator Arlen Specter retains his double-digit lead over Congressman Joe Sestak (D-7) in the Democratic primary, but Republican Pat Toomey is still ahead of both candidates, according to a new poll.

The Rasmussen survey released Tuesday showed Specter garnering 51 percent of the primary vote, compared to 36 for Sestak. Nine percent were undecided, and four percent said they’d vote for someone else—but there are no other candidates in the race.

In general election matchups, Toomey would best Specter nine points, 47 percent to 38 percent, with 10 percent undecided. Toomey’s edge over Sestak is marginally smaller, 43 percent to 35 percent, but with a full 15 percent undecided. The poll was the latest in a growing body of data showing Toomey building a lead against his potential Democratic rivals.

The survey of 425 likely primary voters had a margin of error of five percent. The general election poll of 1,000 likely voters had a margin of error of three percent.

February 9, 2010 at 10:33 pm Staff

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comments [23] | post a comment

  1. HateSestak

    Feb 9th, 2010

    Here’s a question: if Senator Specter is so feeble, so sickly and so decrepit (as a Sestak supporter famously suggested on this page) why does Representative Sestak appear utterly incapable of besting him? Why has the supposedly efficient Team Sestak faltered so badly in this effort against the frail, infirm Senator Specter? The adverse criticisms of Senator Specter’s health raise more questions about REPRESENTATIVE SESTAK than about the incumbent Senator. The ailing, diseased Senator is is annihilating increasingly desperate upstart.

  2. John

    Feb 9th, 2010

    This poll is fake. Until I see a DailyKos poll showing Toomey with the lead, I will continue to believe that Sestak is up on Specter and both will beat Toomey by 95%. I’m with David Diano on this one. Besides, I personally polled 500 people in Philadelphia and Toomey only got 2%, so I don’t know what these Rasmussen people are thinking. Holla if you from Philly!

  3. Taj Magruder

    Feb 9th, 2010


    Why the hate for Joe? He is a good man and an outstanding public servant. Joe has NEVER made Arlen’s physical health an issue — that was done by Paul Scoles, whose claims I too found reprehensible.

    People are rebelling against “The Establishment” this year. Arlen has been in the Senate since the early 80’s, and he has the backing of the Obama administration, the governor, the state political apparatus…you don’t get more “establishment” than that. Joe is running a very grassroots campaign that proudly puts principle over politics.

    I find it interesting there are more “Undecideds” in Sestak vs. Toomey, then Specter vs. Toomey. I think Joe has a lot more room to improve there against Toomey than Arlen does. Alas…the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day.

    GO, JOE, GO!!!

  4. HateSestak

    Feb 10th, 2010

    Taj: “Joe” is not a champion of the common man; he is a charlatan, and a self-serving charlatan at that. He is a man who – unbeknowst to the public – has little, if any, respect for the law or for the rights of others. He is a man who is beholden to corrupt labor organization chieftains like the nefarious Wendell Young IV. He is a man who has drawn the attention of federal authorities in recent months; indeed, he is currently the target of multiple federal investigations. Representative Sestak is not a progressive, nor is he a populist. He is the consummate con man. Unfortunately for him, the jig is up.

  5. David Diano

    Feb 10th, 2010

    Good one. Until Specter unleashes his full fury on Toomey’s radical right-wing record, the polls are pure speculation. Toomey’s unknowns are high enough that “Republican-to-be-named-later” would probably poll about the same. Toomey’s going to need to embrace Palin and the Tea Party crowd to energize his base, but that will give Specter more ammo to define Toomey.

    Exactly what principle has Sestak put over politics? Please name even ONE. Seriously.

    In Jan 2009, the Republican candidate was going to be either Specter (or Toomey if he entered the race). At that time (by Sestak’s own admission), he declined an offer to run for the seat.
    He then spent months soliciting Senate contributions into his Congressional account.
    In one egregious example he solicited funds, in a hand-written note, on stationery with a GOVERNMENT SEAL:
    And here’s a government stationery store matching item:
    Do the match, then do the math. This appears to be some kind of violation using government stationery for campaign solicitations.

    When he finally did get into the race, he said it was about “running for something, not against something”.
    Funny.. he’s been trashing Specter almost non-stop. He’s questioned Specter’s integrity, word, commitment, etc. Lot’s of “against”. Where’s the “for”? (And don’t be so sure that Sestak and his allies haven’t been pushing the age issue in more private “off the record” conversations to gain support.)

    Sestak’s campaign speeches are as hollow as Palin’s with talk about fighting “politics as usual”, “backroom deals” (the ones he didn’t get), “the establishment”, etc. ALL hollow slogans.
    What is Joe running on? Being a three-star Admiral who was so great at his job that he was relieved of command and forced out as a two-star?

    Joe’s got the same kind of fake integrity that ex-military guys like Ollie North pretend to have. Whatever honor Sestak may have displayed during his military career, I’ve seen scant evidence of it in his civilian/political life.

  6. EK

    Feb 10th, 2010

    John: Please tell me you’re joking. I can’t really say anything else to that ridiculous post.

    Taj: There’s more undecideds there because Sestak lacks the name recognition for people to have formed a solid opinion on him. It’s not that he has more room to improve, just that he has more room period. And “Joe” clearly has issues… why do you think he’s gone through three times as many staffers as Carney has in the same time period?

  7. Johnny

    Feb 10th, 2010

    Reality check people — Arlen Specter is pushing 80 years old and looks and sounds very old and feeble. In his almost 30 years on the public payroll he has greased the way for some big money donors and these ” friends ” are the ones faithfully supporting him. Voters are skeptical and smart voters remember the oversized rubber stamp Specter used to push the GW Bush agenda, including some of the dubious provisions slipped into the Patriot Act by Brett Tolman, ( Specter’s aide ) that trampled on our basic Constitutional rights of privacy.

  8. IntelligentVoter

    Feb 10th, 2010

    I agree that “There’s more undecideds there because Sestak lacks the name recognition for people to have formed a solid opinion on him.”

    How embarrassing for Specter that it appears to almost be an “anyone but Specter” race.

    While many people have liked Specter for years, the same people who are showing support for him and raising money for him are behind the scenes saying “…but it is time to hang up the hat.” Thanks Arlen for many good years but it is time for a change.

    As for Toomey, as much as Obama and the Dems have an uphill battle, I am not sure if people have the stomach to revert back to the Bush days.

  9. IntelligentVoter

    Feb 10th, 2010

    http:// This is a bigger problem for BOTH Specter and Sestak. But then again Toomy WAS an elected official. Maybe opportunity for an Independent candidate?

    “Rasmussen poll: 63% Say Better for Country If Most of Congress Not Reelected”

  10. Frank

    Feb 10th, 2010

    No update today guys? I wonder if tomorrow we’ll hear how the PA2010 crew was snowed in all day with Joe Hoeffel and he gave them a 14 hour interview about how PA is ready for gay marriage.

  11. Ed H.

    Feb 10th, 2010

    On ideas, Specter will beat Toomey hands down. It’s the general policy direction that the Club for Dopes wanted to see implemented that was a major cause of the economy to nearly collapse 15 months ago. Toomey’s not going to have a good time once the primaries are over. He’s proposing to block health care reform, which translates into more jobs leaving the U.S. and Pennsylvania with his brand of higher costing insurance.

  12. Taj Magruder

    Feb 10th, 2010

    HateSestak: I suggest you look over Joe’s 6-point “Plan for Pennsylvania Families,” and then tell me he is not a champion of the common man. Look at the actual legislation he has introduced in Congress: stopping pay raises, protecting seniors from elder abuse, extending coverage for the unemployed, including autism under TRICARE, ensuring food safety at schools…the list goes on and on. Specter really proved himself to be an outstanding advocate for women when he berated Anita Hill and told Michelle Bachmann to “act like a lady.”

    David: I can name you one example where Sestak put principle before politics….he didn’t switch parties to save his career. Months before Specter switched to the Democratic Party, he flatly said, “To eliminate any doubt, I am a Republican, and I am running for reelection in 2010 as a Republican on the Republican ticket.” He has actively supported Republican candidates like George Bush, Rick Santorum, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. There is no principle there…only opportunism. If you’re look for the “for” and not the “against” in Joe’s platform, I suggest that you too look at his “Plan for Pennsylvania Families.” Joe is FOR expanding health care, improving access to higher education, keeping families in their homes, and helping small businesses.

    EK: You do realize that Specter’s nickname is “Snarlin’ Arlen”? He once cursed out a staffer for forgetting to buy him a new lock for his locker in the Senate gym. He was even named “Toughest to Work For” by PoliticsPA in 2002.

    I’m kinda disappointed by the animosity displayed here. We Democrats can sometimes be our own worst enemies. I support Sestak, but I will still vote for Specter if he wins the primary.

  13. David Diano

    Feb 11th, 2010

    Your example makes NO sense:
    1) Sestak DID change his registration to Democrat to run for Congress and create a career.
    2) Once he became a Dem, what opportunity did he have to “switch parties” where it would have been to his advantage?
    3) You are essentially claiming he exhibited a “principle” by not doing something wouldn’t have given him any advantage or “saved his career”.
    4) Not being Specter and in Specter’s specific situation isn’t really a “principle” for Joe.
    5) Joe’s not for expanding health care for single payer. He specifically voted against an amendment to allow State to do their own single payer systems.
    6) Joe’s “plans” are mostly rehashes of other ideas and bills that other Dems have already submitted in various forms.
    7) Every politician is for keeping families in their homes. If you want to call this a principled stand, you’d have to find politicians who were against families in their homes.

    As for your comment to EK about Specter the toughest to work for “in 2002”. That was BEFORE Sestak got in and pretty much stole the title with the highest turnover rate in the history of congress.

    Taj, I realize that Sestak can be very convincing, especially to a Penn State freshman fresh out of Radnor High. He’s fooled a lot of people older, more experienced in politics and more naturally cynical, but once you catch on to what Sestak is really about, you’ll see things differently.

    If you want to find out about the real Sestak talk to people that quit working for him and ask why they left. Some of the stories may shock you.

  14. Taj

    Feb 12th, 2010


    Sestak registered as a Democrat, because as a member of the military he was not allowed to be partisan. No, maybe Joe didn’t have an opportunity to demonstrate his principles, but Arlen did. And he failed miserably.

    And David…the fact that you’ve looked up my past is creepy to say the least. I may be a college freshman, but I’m an Honors scholar with a 3.7 GPA, I’ve worked on three campaigns so far, I’ve interned for State Senator Daylin Leach, and I’m going to be interning for Senator Casey this summer. A candidate has to do a lot to earn my support, and Joe has.

  15. 95 South

    Feb 14th, 2010

    Hmmmmm, David Diano creeping a young college student…….C’mon Dave, color between the lines.

  16. 95 South

    Feb 15th, 2010

    Ed H. Toomey will propose to block “Healthcare Reform” becuase he understands that well over the majority of Americans want to block healthcare reform. Myself included, as you may deduce.

    My healthcare is PERFECT for me and my family.

    Now this may come as a surprise to you communists/collectivists/bolsheviks/marxists, and I almost forgot, democrats, but I do not have any responsibility to take care of anyone else but my family.

  17. David Diano

    Feb 17th, 2010

    That is total BS about registration. Don’t believe Sestak’s explanation (and actually members of the military are often pushed by their commanders to register Republican). His explanation of why he was kicked out doesn’t hold water either.
    There are PLENTY of military personnel with party registration who voted in the primary for Obama/Hillary. His pal, Wesley Clark, certainly courted military votes during his Presidential primary in 2004. It’s actually rather un-American for Sestak to claim that military personnel should have no voice in selecting primary candidates.

    That doesn’t explain why the rest of Sestak’s family wasn’t registered Democrat either, until Joe picked which side he was going to use for his political career.

    That’s cute about your GPA. I had a 4.0 and went to an Ivy League school, so I’m not exactly “dazzled”. But, GPA and schools have little to do with being fooled by guy like Sestak who has been dedicated to crafting a shining image for himself since before you born. Someday you may have that “Toto” moment were you pull back the curtain and see the “Wizard” for who he really is.

    You want to talk about principles? Fine. Last night Joe talked about making votes of courage. What does that mean?
    Well, typically it means taking a position against the majority of your party on an issue.

    Hmm.. where has Joe done that? Oh yeah, when he broke his campaign promises and voted to give Bush a blank check on Iraq (no timetables), he voted to fund Cheney’s office, for warrantless wiretaps, for telecom immunity, against allowing states to do single-payer healthcare.

    Where’s the courage, integrity and accountability?

    Okay, now let’s look at Specter: opposed Judge Bork, voted consistently for minimum wage increases, pro-union, for hate crimes bill (with Ted Kennedy), pro-choice, for stem cell research, for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for the stimulus bill.

    Each of those Specter “votes of courage” helped the Dems and hurt him with his former Republican party, to the point where they essentially kicked him out (for doing the right thing).

    Can you name me ONE significant “vote of courage” for Joe where he opposed the majority of Dems with a more liberal position on an important issue instead of going with the GOP?

  18. David Diano

    Feb 17th, 2010

    95 South-
    Typical Republican “I got mine. You get yours.” Total indifference to the plight of other Americans. Your “healthy” family must be so proud.

  19. Karl Jacobson

    Feb 18th, 2010

    Sestak will be beaten by Arlen Spector and Toomey will beat Spector

  20. David Diano

    Feb 18th, 2010

    That is currently the highest probability outcome.

    But, Specter has the best chance of taking down Toomey, if it can be done.

  21. Karl Jacobson

    Feb 19th, 2010


    I am always right in my political predictions, I have been doing for over 20 years, Toomey is the next senator.

  22. Sandra

    Feb 19th, 2010

    I’m not voting for Specter even if hell froze over. Not gonna happen. Specter = GOP man. And Specter = magic bullet man.

    Democrats voting for Specter are traitors to the progressive cause.

  23. David Diano

    Feb 19th, 2010

    Progressives voting for Sestak are fooling themselves.
    Sestak = fake progressive
    Sestak = fake democrat

    Sestak’s the traitor to progressives. You just don’t know it yet.

    If you honestly believe that Sestak has a better chance of beating Toomey, then I understand your desire to vote for him. This is a democracy. You have the freedom to be incorrect. :-)

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