Poll: Specter takes lead over Toomey in Pa. Senate race

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has taken a seven point lead over his Republican challenger, former Rep. Pat Toomey, in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

The survey, which polled 1,452 Pennsylvania voters, showed Specter with a 49 percent to 42 percent lead over Toomey. In the last Q-poll taken Dec. 18, Toomey and Specter were deadlocked at 44 percent.

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Specter also holds a comfortable lead over his primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak (D), 53 percent to 29 percent. 

"Sen. Arlen Specter seems to be having a good winter politically," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said in a release. He is back ahead of Republican Pat Toomey after having been essentially tied with him since last summer, and there remains no evidence that his primary challenger, Congressman Joe Sestak, has made much progress as we get within three months of the May primary." 

Toomey currently suffers from low name recognition, according to the poll. 65 percent of those surveyed are not familiar with Toomey and only 74 percent of voters, including 73 percent of Democrats are unfamiliar with Sestak. 

Specter switched parties last April, saying that Republicans had strayed too far to the right. Many believed that Specter made the move to help himself politically in the 2010 elections. Though the political environment has soured for some Democratic candidates, Specter has pulled ahead for the time being.

The congressman has a shorter amount of time to make up his gap in name recognition

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points and includes 649 Democrats, with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.