Newly-minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter would whip old Republican rival Pat Toomey 53 - 33 percent if the 2010 Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race were held today, but if popular former Gov. Tom Ridge becomes the Republican candidate, he trails Specter by just 46 - 43 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 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, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. 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.
46% is probably not a very good number for an incumbent to be at, but that percentage may also reflect voter uncertainty/hostility about his recent party switch.
Meanwhile, things are looking dicey for New York's junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand (D). According to The Marist Poll, New York voters are still plagued with uncertainty about her. And it looks as though she's losing support for 2010. She now trails former NY governor George Pataki (R) by 8 points (38-46). Though she still leads current Republican Rep. Pete King 42-31, she's lost ground against him, too. Gillibrand is fighting hard to win the Democratic primary as well; she maintains a 5-point lead over Dem. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, though many Democratic voters are unsure either way.
2009 may be shaping up to be a positive year for former GOP governors from the Northeast. In addition to these numbers for Ridge and Pataki, Mitt Romney's star seems to have risen in Massachusetts; current Democratic governor Deval Patrick is suffering from low approval ratings (57% of voters say they intend to vote against him in 2010), and a plurality approaching a clear majority (49%-32%) say that Romney did a better job of governing the state than Patrick has.