Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania made a cold political calculation earlier this year and decided he could not defeat Rep. Pat Toomey in the GOP primary. So he bolted from the Republican party, with which he had been affiliated at least since being first elected to the Senate in 1980, and joined the Democrats. No doubt he thought this would win him enough Democrat votes to defeat Toomey in the general election in 2010, but apparently he miscalculated. Though holding a 20 point lead over Toomey in May, a new Quinnipiac poll shows the Senator today in a statistical tie with his nemesis.
Not only did Specter lose his seniority by joining the Democrats (though he evidently had been led to expect he would retain it), he looks like he may well lose his prestigious seat in the Senate as well. His only course of action is to support Obama's legislative agenda and hope that agenda will succeed. If he opposes it, which he might have done if he remained a Republican, he'll lose his party's backing altogether. If he supports it, and it fails either to be passed into law or winds up wrecking the economy, he'll lose the support of independents and moderate Dems. He has put himself in an unenviable position, but no tears are being shed for him in Pennsylvania where many people see him as an opportunist who's getting what he deserves.RLC