The latest Quinnipiac poll has a not-so-subtle message for PA Democrats who go to the polls in 5 days: "Although the Quinnipiac poll of likely Democratic primary voters finds that many more think Sen. Arlen Specter is the better general election candidate, Congressman Joe Sestak actually runs a good deal better against Toomey in a trial heat." While it is possible Sestak could offer Democrats a more competitive candidate than Specter in the general election, the internals of the poll suggest a contest between Sestak and Toomey would largely be a battle between two unknown candidates.
Sestak's favorability ratings have increased in recent polls but 52% of respondents didn't know enough about him to offer an opinion. Toomey's favorability ratings show 60% of respondents didn't know enough about him as well. Nevertheless, in a hypothetical race between Toomey and Sestak, Toomey has a 2 point lead. The mood in PA is clearly anti-Democrat as much as it is anti-incumbent. Approval ratings for Barack Obama and Ed Rendell suggest Pennsylvanians have had their fill of Democratic policies.
While Sestak is largely unknown, his vote on health care may prove to be a liability as large as Specter's incumbency. Shortly after the health care law was passed, 65% of Pennsylvanians polled opposed the law. As Sestak is running among his base as the true liberal candidate, how will he distance himself from health care to appeal to moderate and conservative Pennsylvanians? Sestak has been loyal to the Democratic agenda that is clearly turning a bluish Pennsylvania purple with a strong red hue. He is a sure Democratic vote for a Senate that is likely to remain in Democratic control. If these are qualities that make him a stronger candidate in the general election in the minds of Democrats, it appears Democrats have little if any comprehension of the battles ahead in November.