The Campaign Spot

He’ll Leave the Light on for You, But It’s Lights-Out for Opponents

Yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll showing a pretty dramatic comeback by Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter seemed strange — what’s happened in the past two months that would dramatically endear Specter to Pennsylvanians more? Was he out shoveling snow? — and it’s all the more unusual with the Q-poll out today showing Republican Tom Corbett running away with the governor’s race:

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has a 43 – 5 percent lead over State Representative Sam Rohrer for the Republican nomination for governor and holds double-digit leads over the top Democratic candidates, all of whom who are virtual unknowns even to their own party members, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

“Don’t know” leads the field for the Democratic nomination with 59 percent, followed by Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato with 16 percent, State Auditor General Jack Wagner with 11 percent, 2004 U.S. Senate nominee Joel Hoeffel at 10 percent and State. Sen. Tony Williams at 2 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.

Corbett isn’t a household name by any stretch, but at least half of voters statewide have an opinion about him, and by 43 – 7 percent it is favorable, which explains his lead in the polls.  For Rohrer, 91 percent don’t know enough about him.

If the election were held today Corbett would defeat Onorato 42 – 32 percent, Wagner 42 – 30 percent and Hoeffel 41 – 30 percent.

Corbett’s ahead, trust in government is down, Ed Rendell’s underwater with a 43/49 approval/disapproval split and Obama’s approval rating in Pennsylvania is 49 percent with 46 percent disapproving. But Specter is having a big comeback? Maybe it’s just an odd sample . . .

UPDATE: Jon Keeling looks carefully at Quinnipiac’s numbers on Specter against Toomey and concludes:

It’s yet another poll that shows the difficulties in using a poll of Registered voters, as opposed to Likely voters, this far out from an election. With 245 days until election day, ‘Registered’ voters are also detached voters, thus the volatility in the name ID. This poll also shows how important name ID is to obtaining support. Even if the electorate isn’t a fan of the incumbent that they know all too well, they’ll still support him if they have no idea who in the heck the other candidate is.