Specter can defeat Toomey easily - but not Tom Ridge

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    Arlen Specter's old friend Tom Ridge could present a formidable challenge to Specter's attempt for a sixth term in the U.S. Senate. A new poll showed the two in a virtual tie if the election were held today.
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Well, in moving over to the Democratic party Arlen Specter appears to have taken care of one problem -- a primary challenge against a more popular Republican, Pat Toomey.

The problem is there's another Republican out there looming. Tom Ridge.

The former Homeland Security Secretary and Pennsylvania Governor could present Specter with some obstacles if Ridge decides to run. That according to a new Quinnipiac poll released today.

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Poll

If it's Specter versus Toomey in the general, Toomey can stay home. Specter clobbers him by a 53 - 33 margin if the election were to be held today.

If Ridge enters the picture all bets are off. The poll shows Specter with a flimsy 46 - 43 lead.

"A former Republican Senator running as a Democrat against a popular former Republican governor seeking to make a political comeback would be a battle royal in Pennsylvania," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Gov. Tom Ridge is probably the only political figure in Pennsylvania who could give Sen. Arlen Specter a run for his money. But even if he gets a strong challenge from a Republican, Specter is still better off for having changed parties because he seemed headed to certain defeat had he stayed a Republican and faced Toomey in a primary.

Ridge run

So is Ridge even thinking about running?

Who knows? Roll Call announced on Saturday that somebody "with knowledge of the situation" said he's considering it.

Someone "without knowledge of the situation" could make that claim as well. You have to assume, unless Ridge says otherwise, that it's an option. Politics is in his blood.

What about

What's Specter think about Ridge? Standard answer.

“I think former Gov. Ridge is a very able fellow, and I have a lot respect for him,” Specter said Sunday on Meet the Press.

Also on the program, Specter continued to insist that his decision to change party affiliation was not a political move -- despite polls showing him having no chance of surviving the Republican primary.

"There's more than being reelected here - there's the factor of principle," Specter said.

Oh, the principle of being reelected?

No, Specter maintained. His personal principle. Being true to yourself (forget the polls).

"The Republican Party has gone far to the right since I joined it under Reagan's big tent. . . . As the picture has evolved, I felt a lot more comfortable - as a matter of principle - with Democrats than Republicans."

More poll info

Independent voters, who back Sen. Specter over Toomey 45 - 36 percent, switch to Ridge 47 - 37 percent if he becomes a candidate. The former Republican Governor also gets 14 percent of the Democratic vote.

In the Specter-Toomey matchup, Republicans back Toomey 74 - 18 percent while Democrats go with their new convert 85 - 4 percent. Men back Specter 47 - 41 percent, as do women 59 - 26 percent. Union households go Democratic 62 - 27 percent.

In a Specter-Ridge face-off, Republicans go with Ridge 82 - 10 percent, while Specter takes Democrats 78 - 14 percent. Men shift to Ridge 50 - 41 percent, while women remain Democratic 51 - 37 percent. Union households back Specter 57 - 34 percent.

You can read more of the poll here.

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