Mark Blumenthal | April 28, 2009
Topics: Arlen Specter , Glen Bolger
Some miscellaneous polling related fallout from the announcement today by Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter that he is changing his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat:
Specter's statement includes a reference that implies he has been watching the public opinion polls:
Since [voting for the stimulus package], I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable.
Specter's long-time pollsters, the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, has announced they are resigning from Specter's team and posted the following statement on their company web site:
"Senator Specter has been a record-setting U.S. Senator, and we have been part of his campaign team in 1992, 1998, and 2004, but because of his surprising decision to switch parties today, we will no longer be involved," said Glen Bolger, a Partner in the firm who worked on the '98 and '04 campaigns. "As Republicans, we are disappointed by Senator Specter's decision."
Finally, the pollsters at Quinnipiac University have sent out a release reminding us that their Pennsylvania poll in late March showed Specter "running stronger as a Democrat than as a Republican:"
Voters approve 52 - 33 percent of the job Specter is doing, with a 71 - 16 percent positive from Democrats and a 41 - 37 percent boost from independent voters, off-setting a 52 - 36 percent disapproval from Republicans. This is Specter's highest approval among Democrats and lowest approval among Republicans since Quinnipiac University began polling Pennsylvania in 2002.
More relevant to the headline of the Quinnipiac release, quoted above: 51 percent of Democrats said Specter deserved to be reelected as Senator compared to 32 percent of independents and 30 percent of Republicans.
Update: The Washington Post's Jon Cohen reminds us of the long-term trend toward Democratic party identification in Pennsylvania.
Update 2: In his press conference, Specter attributes his final decision to "my own poll results."
The decision has been reached gradually, as I have traveled the state in the last several months. Specifically, I got my own poll results back last Friday, late last week. And I consulted with my campaign managers and had a long discussion with Joan and my son ___ over the weekend . . . and came to a decision this past week.
It is not at all surprising that an officeholder would make this sort of decision after consulting internal polling. What is unusual is to hear such him acknowledge it so plainly. The poll in question was presumably conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.
Update 3: We have created new charts showing Specter's overall job approval and favorable ratings (among all adults/voters). Needless to say, all polls included as of this writing were conducted prior to today's announcement.
Update 4: Specter former pollster, Republican Glen Bolger, just posted the following "tweet":
Current meaningful country song lyrics -- God is great, beer is good, people are crazy.
Certainly not the last word on this subject, but an apt place to end this post. Time for a beer, Glen.