Is Joe Sestak Closing in on Pat Toomey?

The Pennsylvania Senate race is one of the most interesting in the country, going back to before the primary.  Incumbent Senator Arlen Specter, with the graces of Obama and Biden, switched parties to avoid a challenging Republican primary fight.  Overnight, Specter changed his positions on a number of issues, all to win the respect of the Democratic political establishment and hold on to his Senate seat.

But then former Navy vice-admiral Joe Sestak came along.  He was elected to Congress in the 2006 Democratic tidal wave that made Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House.  In the Democratic Senate primary, he narrowly beat Specter, who had the backing of Obama and the entire Democratic party.  Pennsylvania’s Governor, Democrat Ed Rendell, even urged Sestak not to challenge Specter, saying “Joe Sestak should not run for the Senate in the Democratic primary.”

This entire mess-up situation only reaffirmed in many minds that politics is a dirty, corrupt game.  How could so many Democrats support a man who, just a few years prior, had guided through President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee?

Now, Sestak is battling with former Congressman Pat Toomey for Snarlin’ Arlen’s seat.  Over the summer, every single poll had Toomey in front,  but just recently two polls have come out showing Sestak ahead.  From The Wall Street Journal:

Rep. Joe Sestak appears to have closed the gap in Pennsylvania’s Senate race after trailing Republican Pat Toomey in polls and fund-raising since early summer, according to new numbers from public and internal GOP polls of likely voters.

A GOP strategist said recent internal polls have shown the race tightening – confirming two recent public polls. A Muhlenberg College/Morning Call tracking poll of likely voters out today showed a dead heat, with Mr. Sestak, a former Navy admiral, at 44% to Mr. Toomey’s 41%, within the poll’s 5 percentage point margin of error. A survey released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, gave Mr. Sestak a 1 percentage point lead, well within the poll’s 3.7 percentage point margin of error.

The two face off in a debate at 7 p.m. tonight.

The Cook Political Report has kept the race in the toss-up column all fall, but Mr. Sestak, a two-term congressman, has not led in a public poll since late spring. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden campaigned with the Democrat in Philadelphia last Sunday as part of their last-minute blitz to encourage voting by the Democrats’ discouraged base.

Mr. Sestak also found new support this month from Sen. Arlen Specter, who had switched from the Republican Party to avoid losing to Mr. Toomey in the GOP primary but ended up being defeated in the Democratic primary by Mr. Sestak.

Despite these recent polls, I still think Toomey will win.  President Obama is no more popular now than he was over the summer.  Pennsylvanians haven’t suddenly decided that the stimulus bill or health care reform were great achievements by the most ethical Congress ever.

Besides , the top of the Republican ticket in PA is very strong.  Tom Corbett, the GOP candidate for Governor, has a lead of 10.4 points according to Real Clear Politics.  The strong support for Corbett will trickle over to Toomey as well.  That, added with the GOP’s enthusiasm advantage, pretty much ensures that Toomey will beat Sestak.  Oh, and Toomey has more Facebook fans.


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