Sabatos Crystal Ball

Specter Almost Lives Up to His Name, Narrowly Avoids Political Death

Larry J. Sabato, Director, U.Va. Center for Politics April 28th, 2004


Specter just barely squeaked it out. This is not particularly impressive – to say the least – for a 24-year Senate incumbent who had the strong support of the president, the other senator (a strong conservative), and just about everybody else. Plus, commentators were almost unanimous in saying that if Toomey won, the seat would likely go Democratic! If it had not been for the solid business support Specter received (such as Pennsylvanians for Effective Government), Specter would be on his way out today.

Still, a win is a win. Specter should do better in November, UNLESS there is a messy recount, and his presence on the ticket may help keep Bush in the Keystone State game. It does NOT guarantee a Bush win in Pennsylvania by any means, but Toomey would have sunk Bush. The question is: Has Toomey wounded Specter enough to make this a competitive Senate race in November?

This narrow victory for Specter proves again that the moderate wing of the GOP is dying, even in the Northeast. It’s very comparable to the death of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party in the South and Rocky Mountain states. Democrats are liberals almost everywhere and Republicans are conservatives almost everywhere, and that will be even more true in ten years than it is today.