Pennsylvania: Specter Tops Matthews in New Senate Survey

Posted November 26, 2008 at 3:17pm

Sen. Arlen Specter (R) lead cable TV news host Chris Matthews (D) by double digits in yet another public poll of the hypothetical 2010 matchup.

Specter led Matthews, 45 percent to 33 percent, among 1,487 Keystone State voters polled by Quinnipiac University from Nov. 19-24. The survey had a margin of error of 2.5 points.

Specter, one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate, enjoyed strong support from his party in the poll, with 72 percent of Republican respondents backing him. In 2004, Specter barely staved off a primary challenge from then-Rep. Pat Toomey (R), who came at him from the ideological right.

Specter also had support from 25 percent of Democrats polled, whereas Matthews had 55 percent support from Democrats.

Matthews has privately discussed a Senate bid with Democratic officials in the state, though publicly he has kept mum about his intentions for 2010. The host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” cable news talk show, Matthews used to be a top aide for former Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) and also worked for former President Jimmy Carter.

Although Matthews continues to clock air time, it’s unclear whether that has boosted a potential bid. In the survey, 21 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Matthews — down from 28 percent in a similar survey from August.

Specter, meanwhile, continues to be one of the most popular politicians in Pennsylvania with a 62 percent approval rating and 56 percent of respondents holding a favorable opinion of him.

Despite health problems, he has already said he will seek a sixth term in 2010, when he will be 80 years old. Potential Democratic Senate candidates if Matthews does not run include Reps. Allyson Schwartz and Joe Sestak and state Sen. Josh Shapiro.