Matthews vs. Toomey?
So I say Matthews and other D's for that matter are all trying to gauge whether Toomey or another strong R is going to jump into the race. A large part of the senate-hopeful crowd (on both sides) would never run against Specter, but would jump at the chance to run against most anybody else. But the signals from Toomey have been minimal, let alone any glimmer from a Ridge, Schweiker or Scranton. Smart for each side to keep quiet. Both anti-arlen camps on either side are playing a game of chicken with each other. Both would prefer the more extreme opponent on the other side to their opponent yet announcing their own races could have the effect of scaring out the opposites then want. All of which explains the continued success of Arlen Specter at winning the most bipolar of states. As I said before, figure out how a state can vote by large margins for Al Gore and Rick Santorum in the same election as happened in 2000 and you will have a career in Pennsylvania politics. It might be changing, but those types of ticket splitters have been the deciding voters here for a long time.
Is the Pennsylvania middle changing? I am not sure it makes sense to even call it the middle, but I duuno? Obama won PA by large measure, but Republican Tom Corbett won re-election as well. That may not be the best analogy but still. If not decided by the middle, as my bubble chart of the election last month shows pretty clearly, it will be decided by Philadelphia. Former Philadelphia US Attorney Arlen always does pretty well for a R in Philadelphia... and if he does not win Philadelphia proper, he generally wins the environs which went solidly Obama last month. Specter actually won 63 of 67 counties in 2004, though that was down from 65/67 counties in 1998, though Yeakel won 16 counties in 1992. Who would capture that vote in a race without him as a choice?
What is not really talked about yet... if it turns out this registration switch has affected the intra-party dynamics of Pennsylvania's primaries; it's not just what it means for the statewide races, but what impact it might that have on races down the ticket?