Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Open Thread: Specter Switch

Well, Pennsylvania got slightly bluer today with Arlen Specter's surprising, yet not-so-surprising shift into the Democratic Caucus in the Senate. The way things were going, this was likely the only choice Specter had.

...if he was/is still interested in working in the Senate. Twenty-one points down is twenty-one points down. That's a tough row to hoe when you are talking about an incumbent and a primary polling deficit. Not that Chris Dodd is in an ideal position, but at least his polling deficit is against a potential general election opponent in 2010; not quite as threatening. Specter, I'm sure, saw the writing on the wall.

Here's one: Seth Masket over at Enik Rising sums the move up nicely.

Here's another from Josh Marshall (via Seth): I completely forgot that Pennsylvania is a closed primary state. That certainly would have made Specter's prospects of re-election that much dimmer if he would have continued on that route.

Yet another: Michael Steele on Specter's departure. (h/t GOP12 for the link)

While we're on Specter, let me add a funny anecdote to this discussion:
A couple of summers ago I took a grading gig within the department to help out one of our faculty members. It was an intro to American government class made up completely of incoming freshmen. So this was their first college experience. Following a week of lectures on the branches of government and their attendant checks and balances we had an exam. One of the questions asked was about the checks between Congress and the Supreme Court. We had that week discussed Senate confirmation of judicial appointments and nestled in that discussion was a side note about Specter's role in the Clarence Thomas hearings -- specifically his questioning of Anita Hill and the backlash that created. Now, you have the proper context, but it took me a while in the midst of reading all these exams to figure out who one the students was referring to when mentioning Karl Inspector.

Karl Inspector?

Then the light bulb came on: Oh, Arl-en Spector.

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Jack said...

The DCCC is spinning this thusly: "This is the clearest possible evidence of the power that grassroots Democrats like you have to create change." Is Pat Toomey a "grassroots Democrat?"

Your anecdote was very, very funny.

Josh Putnam said...

That's right: Toomey is the grassroots Democratic Party at its finest.

Oh, and Michael Steele cost the GOP the election in NY-20.

Jack said...

I'm a little frustrated with how Democrats are wasting money with the Coleman ad and now this. Though I suppose that web ads don't cost much.

Besides, the Democrats are supposed to blame Limbaugh for everything. Pick a villain and stick with him, guys.

Jack said...

By "the Coleman ad," I mean the one urging him to concede the Minnesota race. As well as the petition they circulated to urge him to concede, and such.

Josh Putnam said...

Patience is a virtue in Minnesota. I think the Democrats would be wise to just wait that one out. Whether they spend money or not, it is likely going to be decided in their favor. And Minnesotans aren't getting any more agitated with Coleman as a result of their spending.

Jack said...

You mean Norm Coleman doesn't take orders from Harry Reid?

In all seriousness, how does this (Specter) impact the chances of more switches? I've seen speculation about Snowe. Your take?

I don't really think the idea of Snowe switching parties makes much sense. Specter switched because of electoral pressure to do so. Jeffords switched at a time when control of the Senate was in the balance. Neither of these incentives are available to Snowe, Collins, Inhofe or whoever would consider switching.

Josh Putnam said...

As per usual, my response was a little too long. I've kicked it into it own post.