Toomey tops Specter for now, poll finds.


The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Republican U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter trailing former conservative Congressman Pat Toomey - a potential candidate in the Republican primary for the 2010 Senate race.

The poll, released today, shows Specter behind Toomey 41 to 27 percent, with 28 percent undecided.

"Specter is definitely in trouble in the Republican primary at this point," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But he could be saved if more candidates pile in and divide the anti-Specter vote. If he gets past the primaries, he's in good shape."

Richards said Pennsylvania Republicans are unhappy with Specter becoming one of only three Republicans to vote for President Obama's stimulus package. And Toomey is capitalizing on that anger.

Toomey has said he is considering another run against Specter, whom he unsuccessfully challenged in the 2004 Republican primary.

Asked whether Specter would fare better if he ran as an independent - or even a Democrat - Richards said: "That's his choice. He would be a very strong independent candidate if he chose to take that route, and it would avoid a confrontation with conservatives who give him very low marks on everything, especially his vote for the stimulus package."

The poll found that voters approve 52 to 33 percent of the job Specter is doing, with a 71-16 percent positive score from Democrats and a 41-37 percent boost from independent voters. Those high approval ratings help offset a 52-36 percent disapproval from Republicans.

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