I was interested to see Rasmussen's new poll today on the potential Chris Matthews/Arlen Specter match up in 2010, showing Specter leading just 46-43. That's a much better performance for Matthews than he had in either our survey of the race right before the Presidential election that showed Specter up 40-27 or a recent Quinnipiac one that showed him up 45-33.
It's possible that the Rasmussen poll is just a bit of an outlier, or it could be that as Matthews' potential candidacy has received a lot more attention in the Pennsylvania press his name recognition has increased and his poll numbers along with it. My guess is that it's a combination of the two things.
Either way though, I wonder if Matthews is really the Democrats' best hope for winning that seat. Al Franken may still win in Minnesota, but would Norm Coleman have been definite toast if the Democrats had nominated one of the state's big city mayors, or someone from the Congressional delegation, or even a legislative leader? I don't know the answer- maybe Franken really was the best potential candidate- but I wonder if nominating the contentious celebrity was the best way to go.
And I wonder the same thing about Pennsylvania in 2010. I hope Quinnipiac or someone else who polls the state regularly will look at folks like Joe Sestak and Allyson Schwartz. If their baseline is similar to Matthews, I think there's a good possibility their upside could be higher if they come with less potential baggage than the tv host.
I like Chris Matthews and certainly won't be unhappy if he ends up as the standard bearer but Specter's going to be tough to beat and it's important Democrats nominate the best candidate possible if they're going to do it.