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Published:May 4th, 2009 22:55 EST
Arlen Specter with President Barack Obama

Specter's Defection Proving Beneficial To Public Opinion

By Christopher HIllenbrand

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter became a topic for criticism among politicians in the GOP, after he announced his defection last week to the Democratic Party. What was eschewed as a poor political maneuver on his part has now been praised, as the latest public poll has him leading his Republican rival for the Senate seat come the 2010 election.

Democratic Senator Arlen Specter

Former fellow Republicans called the 79-year-old politician`s motivations politically expedient in the aim of retaining public office rather than for any ideological convictions. But Specter lashed back at many of whom were highly-regarded friends, saying that his own ideals and principles align more closely with the Democratic Party`s platform than the party he`s represented since running for District Attorney in 1966. Specter cited that his views were constantly "at odds with the Republican philosophy".

But the former Republican`s move has swayed the balance in bipartisanship in the Senate, and has been received wholeheartedly by the foremost Democrat in the United States, President Barack Obama.

A poll conducted by researchers at Quinnipiac University uncovered that Specter would easily defeat the Republican frontrunner for the seat, Pat Toomey, by a 53 percent to 33 percent margin if the election was held today.

Despite the findings, the poll also predicted whether Specter would have the same advantage if Republican Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania, campaigned for the seat. The hypothetical poll wasn`t nearly as favorable toward the senior statesman, as Specter would garner 46 percent of the vote compared to the 43 percent who would vote for Ridge if the ballots were cast today.

Before Specter changed parties, Toomey boasted a considerable lead in the polls going into the future Republican primaries. And as the university`s poll, released on Monday, showed 74 percent of Republicans still preferred Toomey over Specter, who was supported by 18 percent of his former constituents.

Clay Richards, the assistant director for Quinnipiac`s poll, suggested: "A former Republican senator running as a Democrat against a popular former Republican governor seeking to make a political comeback would be a battle royal in Pennsylvania."

With the party line switch, Specter is expected to receive political help from President Obama if he so chooses to accept it. But it may prove to be a wise decision for the senator to acquiesce considering Obama defeated John McCain handily in Pennsylvania`s polls during the 2008 presidential election.