According to a recent Franklin & Marshall poll conducted by Times-Shamrock, both of Pennsylvania’s United States Senators are not doing too well in the realm of public opinion.
30% have a favorable view of Casey, 42% have a favorable view of Specter. 17% view Casey unfavorably and 29% view Specter unfavorably. 21% are undecided on Casey and 32% don’t know what to think of him. 15% are undecided on Specter and 14% don’t know.
While Specter is certainly doing better than Casey, Specter has less time to improve his image than Casey does. Specter faces re-election in 2010, Casey in 2012.
Earlier polls had Casey in a much stronger position. An earlier Quinnipiac University poll completed in the beginning of February 2009 had Casey at 54% approval rating. An earlier Franklin and Marshall poll conducted six months after taking office in 2007 gave Casey a 29% approval rating, 22% disapproval, 23% undecided and 26% didn’t know.
A recent letter by Scranton Diocese Bishop Martino accused Casey of misrepresenting the Catholic position on abortion and of violating what the church calls for from its flock as it relates to abortion. Bishop Martino also issued a reminder to Eucharistic Ministers that when faced with “public and persistent actions in opposition to the moral law as taught by the Church” that they should refuse to provide communion to the offender. Both letters were issued in the same day.
This has been festering since Casey’s vote on the Mexico City policy. The vote overturned the Bush and Reagan prohibition against using federal tax dollars fund organizations that promote abortion. It has come to a head recently with Bishop Martino’s outreach to Casey to try and change his position. This certainly could explain what would cause Casey’s approval number to nosedive 24% in about a month.
Specter’s problems are of his own making. Specter’s vote on the crap sandwich a.k.a. economic stimulus bill has caused major fallout for Specter. The House and Senate Republican Caucuses tried to put a hold on the bill due to concerns of wasteful spending and based on promises made by the Obama Administration that bills would be placed on the internet before voting on them and that a certain amount of time would elapse before passage would occur so the public would have the ability to review the legislation. Both Obama campaign promises were violated with the bill. Republican also offered many amendments to the bill that would have stripped the pork from it, all of which were defeated.
When the Republicans tried to take this principled stand, Specter and two other moderate Republicans jumped ship and supported the Democrats. This has led Republican leaders to at least consider cutting support for Specter should he have a viable Republican opponent. Both Chairman Steele nationally and Chairman Gleason locally have indicated that they were very unhappy with Specter over his vote.
All of this has likely caused former Pennsylvania Congressman and front man for the Club for Growth Pat Toomey to suggest that he might abandon his hopes of running for Pennsylvania Governor and seek a rematch against Specter in 2010. In 2004, Specter beat Toomey in the Republican primary by about 17,000 votes or just less than 2% statewide.