Arlen Specter may be a moderate as far as Republican Party standards go, but he has seldom seemed as any Democrat by any means with his voting record. His switch to the Democratic Party isn't likely to produce and real major changes to that long-time voting record either. While Specter's move helps the Democrats, at least on paper, move towards that magic 60 vote majority, the move by Specter must still be viewed as more of a marriage of convenience than anything. It is probably unlikely that waves of other Republican moderates will suddenly be switching parties and joining Specter.
Specter was running about 20 points behind a potential conservative GOP primary challenger in current Pennsylvania polls, and was concerned about losing his senate seat in 2010. A switch to the Democratic Party may give Specter a better shot at keeping his senate seat provided a strong Democratic challenger doesn't emerge either.
Vice President Joe Biden personally takes a great deal of credit for urging Specter to switch parties. And this also helps the Democrats to secure a 60 vote majority once All Franken is confirmed as the winner of the Minnesota senate election battle. As far as advancing the Democratic agenda of President Obama, the Democrats are now solidly in position to enact any legislation that they wish. However, the double edged sword here is that this legislation must work and be popular enough with the public. A new Rasmussen Poll out today, shockingly gives Republicans a slight edge on a generic congressional election ballot, so the Democrats with control of the White House, congress and the senate might only have until just the 2010 election to prove that they can advance the country and move the economy ahead before that majority at least in the congress might be threatened by a voter backlash should this agenda fail.
With the added vote of Arlen Specter on some Democratic legislation, there is a window until the 2010 election for the White House and the Democrats to succeed or fail. Mr. Obama has moved very quickly a great deal of legislation, and whether this revives the economy or solves other problems will take some time to consider.
However, in most polls, President Obama draws high approval numbers. And the stock market is up again sharply today. And both GM and Chrysler seem to have at least some good news that both are making some changes that might be the cornerstones of the survival of both companies.
With the Democrats so heavily in control of the federal government, they will certainly be tagged by the voters as throughly "owning" any problems the nation is facing. This brings with it a great deal of responsibility to suceed. And it gives some hope to Republicans to gain some voter support as a protest party should Democrats fail, even if Republicans have so far failed to really advance any real platform or agenda to address the nation's problems.