When Pat Toomey, the conservative former head of the Club for Growth, challenged liberal Republican Arlen Specter for the nomination to Specter’s seat in the US Senate, the beating Specter’s poll numbers took led him to officially move to his true spiritual home, the Democrat Party. Predictably, resercons like David Frum wasted no time in accusing the supposedly-unelectable Toomey of giving total control of the Senate to the Democrats by needlessly taking out the Republican who had a decent shot at retaining the seat.
The polls, however, tell a different story. Specter’s 20-point general election lead diminished by half between the beginning and the end of May, and the latest polls show no reason to put a fork in Toomey. Specter currently leads Toomey 50-39 (Rep. Joe Sestak’s lead on Toomey is smaller at 41-35). This would be very bad news if the election were weeks, or even a couple months, down the road, but the election is still a year away. You don’t have to be a professional pollster to have noticed that lots can change in short periods of time. For instance, a candidate’s connection to a psychotic reverend could come to light…
Bottom line: there’s no reason to consider this race over, and Toomey is no traitor to the “greater good” of the GOP. Specter made the decision to leave the party precisely because he didn’t feel loyalty to its greater good. This is the sort of man Frum thinks deserves “an honored place made in the Republican Party.” But as the polls show, the GOP very well ma reclaim that seat next year—thanks to a candidate who has principles, for a change, someone who actually believes in his party’s platform.
UPDATE: As Ed Morrissey points out, Toomey is hardly some kind of unserious also-ran:
Toomey didn’t just come out of nowhere. He won an election to Congress in a district best described as moderate, replacing a retiring Democratic incumbent and beating another popular Democrat by ten points. He won re-election twice afterwards, until he kept his promise to limit himself to three terms in the House. The notion that Toomey would only appeal to the Republican base has no evidence, other than the fears among Specter apologists.