A new Susquehanna poll shows former Gov. and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (R) beating newly Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter in a general-election matchup, reinforcing Quinnipiac's finding that Ridge would have a better shot at winning the seat for the GOP than would the more conservative Pat Toomey, whose gigantic primary lead over Specter, some say, forced the Senate veteran out of the GOP's ranks.
Quinnipiac found that Specter would beat Ridge 46-43 percent; Susquehanna has Ridge up 39-38 percent. Of course, these numbers could shift significantly between now and 2010.
Perhaps a more relevant question is how Ridge would fare against Toomey in a primary matchup, and no one appears to have measured that. Ridge will have to beat Toomey for us to see a Ridge vs. Specter general election. (Though, presumably, Ridge's advantage in general election viability could help him gain votes in a GOP primary.)
The Ridge vs. Toomey scenario would allow us to learn something about Pennsylvania Republicans. When Arlen Specter decided to become a Democrat, he said the Republican primary electorate in PA had shifted, becoming more conservative. That take seems to be supported by the fact that Specter one day trailed Toomey by a vast margin in support among Pennsylvania Republicans, and the next he led Toomey by a vast margin among all voters in the state: Republicans's strong preference for Toomey's conservatism was proven to be out of line with what Pennsylvania thinks as a whole.