ABC News' David Chalian reports: Arlen Specter's political calculation to switch to the Democratic Party as the only plausible path to have a shot at being reelected as Pennsylvania's senior senator seems to have been a wise one, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll out today.
In a hypothetical general election match up between his former Republican primary foe Pat Toomey, Democrat Arlen Specter crushes Toomey by 20 points, 53 percent to 33 percent. In the potential race against former Rep. Toomey, Sen. Specter still pulls in 18 percent of the Republican vote despite his high-profile defection from the GOP last week.
If Pennsylvania Republicans can draw former Gov. Tom Ridge into the Senate race, Sen. Specter will have a far more competitive reelection battle on his hands. The poll shows Sen. Specter barely edging ahead of Gov. Ridge, 46 percent to 43 percent, in that hypothetical match up.
Gov. Ridge is far better known statewide than Mr. Toomey and his more moderate record likely helps him with those key independent voters. Gov. Ridge beats Sen. Specter among independent voters by 10 points, 47 percent to 37 percent. In the potential race against Rep. Toomey, Sen. Specter wins independents by a similar margin, 45 percent to 36 percent.
It is that appeal to independent voters in a Blue state that makes Gov. Ridge a very attractive recruit for national and state Republican officials.
Sen. Specter scores a 56 percent approval rating in the poll which was conducted after his high profile party switch was splashed across the news. Perhaps in a sign of an open arms welcome to the party, 81 percent of Democrats approve of the job Sen. Specter is doing representing the Keystone State in the Senate.
Quinnipiac University conducted the poll between April 29 - May 3. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.