Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party because the conservatives who dominate the Republican Party in PA would never nominate him to run for Senator again. He has made no bones about that. It appears that his calculation was quite accurate according to a new Quinnipiac poll. As a Democrat he would as of right now handily defeat the Republican Pat Toomey who he could not defeat in the Republican Primary.
But all is not rosy for Specter's political future. Moderate former GOP Gov. Tom Ridge might well defeat him, as he trails Specter by only 3 percentage points. The numbers are Specter 46% to Ridge 43%.
What that tells me is that the conservative Republican brand in Pennsylvania does not go over very well, but the Republican Party itself is not nearly so tarnished.
The Conservatives have for years wanted to get a more ideologically pure conservative party. I can remember when Bill Buckley used to rail that the problems for conservatives was that the political parties were not ideologically pure. Well, it looks like movement conservatism achieved Buckley's desire, and the current 25% identification of the voting public with conservative Republicans shows that the old saying "Be careful what you wish for." has really come back to haunt the Republican Party. The result has been a recognition that conservatism is a disaster in government.
Will Specter get reelected in 2010? That's a looong way off. But it will say a lot about the future of conservatism in America.