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Rasmussen: Sestak closing the gap against Specter

Congressman Joe Sestak is rapidly gaining on Senator Arlen Specter, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Rasmussen survey of likely Democratic primary voters showed Sestak trailing Specter by a statistically insignificant two points, 44 percent to 42 percent. Ten percent of voters are still undecided, according to the poll.

At first glance, the survey appears to be something of a statistical outlier. Every recent survey has shown a much wider gap. A Rasmussen poll with a similar sample just one month ago found Sestak down 11 points, and little has transpired since then that would account for such a change. Neither candidate had aired TV ads when the poll was conducted. However, the telephone survey was taken on Monday, just as former Senator Rick Santorum’s accusation that he endorsed Specter in 2004 because Specter promised to back Bush administration judicial nominees was at its peak in the news cycle. It’s likely that had an effect, though it remains to be seen if any impact from the story will hold (Sestak has denied Santorum’s charge).

Sixty-five percent of likely primary voters view Specter either very favorably or somewhat favorably, while 32 percent of them view Specter very or somewhat unfavorably, according to the poll.

The survey of 435 likely primary voters had a margin of error of 5 percent.

April 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm

--Dan Hirschhorn

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comments [25] | post a comment

  1. Montco 4 Change

    Apr 13th, 2010

    The poll has to be an outlier. The Santorum news wasn’t as widely covered as most thing around the state. Sestak has done little or nothing to raise his status in the past weeks. It is hard to believe. Readng the tabs, Sestak wins among voters who do not like the health care act. Could a lot of this be frustration from Dems thinking Sestak is against it? In addition, the mailer that Sestak sent out had to cost them a few hundred thousand dollars. I am wondering what his coh is right now.

  2. Brian O'Connor

    Apr 13th, 2010

    Thar 4% “other candidate” vote would most likely swing to Sestak as well.

    A month ago this race was a sleeper; it is starting to get very interesting.

  3. Wilkes-Barre Democrat

    Apr 13th, 2010

    This is interesting. I know Rasmussen has a good track record. There is nothing really there to back up why there was such a shift. I am interested in what people have to hypothicize about this. I still think Specter wins by 3-6% points anyway you look at it.

  4. bill healy

    Apr 13th, 2010

    People have started to pay attention to the campaigns, Do you think voters have nothing better to do than follow politics all year long. That’s only for political junkies like you find on these sites. Most voters didn’t even know there was a primary till the past week or so. Wait till Sestak clobbers Specter over and over with his 30 years of solid Republican votes and the flat tax bill he introduced one month before he started running from Toomey and his Republican past.

  5. TB

    Apr 13th, 2010

    Dan Hirschhorn, what do you think?

  6. Dan Hirschhorn

    Apr 13th, 2010


    I think the same thing about this that I do about all polls: It’s one poll.

    That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It could be dead-on accurate. But polling data means so much more in aggregate than it does in isolation.

    Let’s see what happens next. If other surveys start to show a similar tightening, we’ll know there’s something here.

    Dan Hirschhorn

  7. Bruce Bailey

    Apr 13th, 2010

    I haven’t liked Rasmussen for much of anything before this, so I’m not going to start now, even though I’d love to believe what they’re saying here. Rasmussen’s history is that they report what Repubs want to hear — sort of like Fox News. Right now, Repubs would love to hear that Specter is already toast. Like I said, that’s the outcome I’m looking for, too, but I think they’re early with these numbers.

    Give it few weeks yet.

  8. David Diano

    Apr 13th, 2010

    It’s a Rasmussen poll (which is the one that FOX loves so much that Rasmussen himself is a frequent guest on Hannity).

    For those that remember Sesame Street: which one of these things doesn’t belong?

    Rasmussen Reports Specter +2
    Quinnipiac Specter +21
    Franklin & Marshall Specter +20
    Daily Kos/R2000 Specter +19

    Rasmussen’s report says that tomorrow, they will release Toomey’s numbers against Specter and Sestak. I bet that poll has Toomey farther out than any other poll.

    Wait until Specter clobbers Sestak with the list of things Specter has done for PA, and all the Union endorsements, and how Sestak doesn’t show up for work enough or pay his workers minimum wage.

    BTW, I got one of Joe’s new pieces in the mail. It’s got a picture of Joe with his wife and daughter from 4 years ago and wearing Sestak for “Congress” buttons.

    Also, the mailing reveals that Sestak used an old database file because the label lacks a correction made over a month ago.

  9. bill healy

    Apr 13th, 2010

    Dave what things do you think he has done? Do you mean how he saved the Navy Yard,or any of the other federal facilites that used to be in Pa.,that provided good paying jobs,that are now gone. Union endorsments are OK,I was in a union that used to endorse Curt Weldon,I exercised my own good judgement,and expect that my union brothers will exercise their own good judgement as to who is and who isn’t a democrat.
    As for the old photo,I thought that with your constant,untrue,name recognition statistics that you would recognise that as exactly that,an introduction to those voters who still don’t know about Joe Sestak,do you think maybe he should have retouched the button or something? he does have a wife and lovely daughter you know?
    Think a lot of People are moving into new homes lately Dave?

  10. Bruce Bailey

    Apr 13th, 2010

    David – Read my post again. I’m not believing Rasmussen either. I think they’re a bit premature.

    So…the Senate is not part of Congress anymore? Going to have to rewrite a lot of high-school textbooks if that’s true. Bottom line: anyone running for the House of Reps OR Senate is running for Congress. Generally, Reps candidates shorten it to say “Jones for Congress” because it’s an easier mouthful than “Jones for House of Representatives.” Senators don’t have that problem. But they’re both running for Congress.

  11. Karen

    Apr 13th, 2010

    Specter is toast!

  12. David Diano

    Apr 14th, 2010

    Why would an old photo of Joe with his family from 2006 be a good introduction for his 2010 Senate campaign?

    I was reinforcing your statement about Rasmussen.

    Sestak’s current campaign and buttons say “Sestak for Senate”, not for Congress.

    Isn’t it odd that Sestak doesn’t have a decent photo with his wife and kid that’s more recent that 4 years old?
    Is Sestak trying to look younger than he is? Or is just the last time he, his wife and child were at a picnic in Delco?

    Here is a photo that I took of Joe that very SAME day at that same picnic:

  13. riley

    Apr 14th, 2010

    Anyone who has the nerve to say Specter hasn’t done anything for PA is either uninformed or just not paying attention. There is no way that any freshman senator, be it sestak or toomey would be able to do what he does.

  14. Lee Levan

    Apr 14th, 2010


    Wishing Specter the best of health; but, in all candor, it’s silly to assume that an 80 year old guy who is (to his credit) a multiple cancer survivor is going to have the vitality of a Joe Sestak. Specter’s productivity is going to decline over the next 6 years while Sestak’s would grow in the job. And Sestak starts out with a good 4 year record in the House; so he’s hardly a newbie.

  15. bill healy

    Apr 14th, 2010

    dave why wouldn’t a picture from 06 introduce the future Senator to potential voters? I can’t waitto hear your complants about Specter using old photos of himself, so he looks like a relatively younger version of himself. I don’t think he will use any recent photos that make him look like methusala, maybe he’ll show us a video of himself playing squash and beating that 35 year old staffer,that he always talks about. He couldn’t even exit AF-1 without a death grip on the stair rails, look at the video from that day. Truth is Arlen is a frail,sickly,selfserving,80 year old,

  16. Bruce Bailey

    Apr 14th, 2010

    Bill, that is the logical – if not politically correct – argument against another term for Arlen Specter. Forget all about his political liabilities for the moment; just focus on his age and his health liabilities.

    I always used to wonder what in the world people in states like South Carolina and West Virginia were thinking when they kept sending elderly, infirmed geezers like Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd back to the Senate.

    Now, here we are in PA being asked to do the same thing. I don’t care if you have the best genes in the world, at 80 years of age (even if you’re healthy, which can’t be said of Specter) you simply do not function at the level required of a US Senator.

  17. Angel

    Apr 14th, 2010

    Every week I & hundreds of others are making thousands of calls to voters across PA as volunteers for Sestak. Every week I hear voters say “Anybidy but Specter” Others say Sestak sounds good, tell me more. We phone bank volunteers are having an impact

  18. Lana

    Apr 14th, 2010

    Angel, you must be one of his well paid family members or you are just not telling the truth. I am making calls day and night and I hear the complete opposite, the voters just don’t know him and he has a very poor voting record.
    As far as the republican poll it is all BS paid for by the little admiral, this is the kind of scum that he is and he will see what the people really think of him that know him. He better line up his job on K Street or he will join the ranks of the unemployed, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Bye Bye Joe, never come back as we are real Democrats and you have never been.

  19. bill healy

    Apr 14th, 2010

    No Lana Angel is correct,the calls go something like this “ever heard of Joe Sestak,No, well he’s running against Arlen Specter 30 year Repub, Well then he has my vote. over and over.

  20. David Diano

    Apr 14th, 2010

    Specter doesn’t need an introduction photo. But, why would Sestak need an old photo, particularly one with his daughter more sickly and still growing her hair back from her treatments? Why not a more recent photo with her in the peak of health?

    Bill, over and over? Well, you should really try to enjoy your May vote for Sestak, since it will be the last time you get to vote for him.

    Specter at 80 is a lot smarter and sharper than Sestak at 58. Watch them debate or answer questions. At the PA Progressive Conference the impression of Joe was that he was a robot repeating memorized answers facts and figures, rather than someone who understood (or believed) what he was talking about.

    You and “hundreds of others” making calls? The Media office doesn’t hold a hundred phone callers. I’ve never seen more than 3 people at the Philly office in the half dozen times I’ve passed by it.
    If it was you and “dozens of others”, that would be believable.

    “Anybidy but Specter” ??? Are they looking for old biddies? :-)

  21. Diano=no

    Apr 14th, 2010

    Get over it Dave. If Sestak had used your database would that mailing been better? Go crawl into a corner!

  22. TheMortonMagician

    Apr 14th, 2010


    With regard to the family photo, surely even you know better than to go there.

    Mario Cimino
    D – Morton Borough Council

  23. David Diano

    Apr 15th, 2010

    Actually, it would be more accurate with my database, since my data comes directly from the PA State Department and is more recent than anything Sestak is using. That’s just simple calendar arithmetic.

    Actually, Sestak has been criticized by others (not just me) about exploiting his daughter’s illness for political gain/sympathy. In that regard, he’s like Sarah Palin exploiting baby Trig.

    If he’s trying to look more youthful to compete with Specter, that’s pretty sad that Joe needs a 4 year old picture of himself to compete with an 80 year old man.

    Joe used his wife and kid in his Christmas video (shot in their Virginia home?). His daughter looked so healthy compared to how we all saw her in 2006, and it was really nice to see things had turned out so well for her.

    So, it seems VERY odd that Sestak doesn’t have a updated photo of his family to use for his campaign. Though, it would be difficult for him to get a photo of the three of them taken in Pennsylvania, since none of them actually live here.

  24. Brett

    Apr 18th, 2010


  25. i.m.anonymous

    Apr 19th, 2010

    Just a couple comments from a Sestak volunteer, sorry I can’t put my name here because of my paying job and fear of retaliation by a certain vindictive person (2 guesses who and the first doesn’t count).

    Joe Sestak is a highly competent, energetic and dedicated congressman who will work hard for more progressive policies than Specter will, without being so hard left as to be unelectable in PA; Sestak can beat Toomey hands-down, whereas Specter already ran from that fight once; Sestak can begin a new generation of Democratic representation in the Senate, whereas Specter will most likely need to be replaced mid-term – by a republican governor.

    Anyone who is capable of simple political calculation and supports Democratic policies as opposed to right-wing craziness, can see that Sestak is your man in the Democratic primary. And as was stated above, when I am in the Sestak office and hear all the volunteers making calls – sometimes there are so many it’s hard to find a place to sit, it’s good they are opening more offices – that is exactly what I hear, when told Sestak is running against Specter, people often say, then Joe has my vote! After they say wait, isn’t Specter a republican anyway?

    You also know that when Sestak wins the primary, Obama, Rendell and the rest of the establishment will turn on a dime to throw money at this race to beat Toomey. Politically they had to support Specter at first, but you can bet they do want a real Democrat like Sestak. Like we all do. Those of us who are actually Democrats that is, and who can see through the smoke screens that Specter’s mercenaries like to try to put out there.

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