Is Arlen Specter toast?
There are three big senate primaries on May 18th — Democratic primaries in Pennsylvania and Arkansas and a Republican one in Kentucky. It’s been clear for some time that the establishment GOP candidate in Kentucky will likely get rocked by Rand Paul — son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R). But it’s now looking like the one in Pennsylvania could be the first real political bombshell of the 2010 season.
As you know, Arlen Specter switched parties last year after deciding he couldn’t beat perrenial nemesis Pat Toomey in the GOP primary. Since then Rep. Joe Sestak has been running a respectable primary campaign against Specter. But he’s been consistently ten to twenty points behind.
But no more. The last regular poll of this race (by Quinnipiac) was finished on May 2nd and showed Specter still 8 points ahead. Since then all we’ve had to go on is the new tracking poll being conducted by Muhlenberg college. They released their first tracking poll on May 1st. And it showed Specter up by 6 points (48% to 42%). Fast forward to today’s result and Sestak is ahead of Specter by 5 points (47% to 42%).
Now, all tracking polls have basic limitations. But the good ones are usually pretty at showing you the trend. And that’s a really, really bad trend for Arlen Specter.
For more on where this race is going, check out tonight’s report from Evan McMorris-Santoro.
Late Update: Since I did this post I realized that another poll of this race was released today — teaches me to watch TPM PollTracker more closely!!! This poll is by Rasmussen and was completed on May 6th. It shows a similar picture — Sestak 47% Specter 42%. The most recent Rasmussen poll of this race was on April 12th and had Specter up by two points. The most recent before that from Ras was March 15th with Specter by 9. What that adds up to is that Rasmussen’s numbers have tilted more in Sestak’s direction than other pollsters sounding this race. But the trend is the same that shows up in the Muhlenberg numbers.
Here’s the graph of the race with the current TPM Poll Average of the race.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.