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No Longer a Republican, Arlen Specter Switches Parties

Talking Point Memo:
Why Specter Did It -- And Had To Do It

By Eric Kleefeld - April 28, 2009, 12:48PM

So why exactly has Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA D-PA) switched parties? - It really comes down to electability -- specifically electability as a Republican. Specter's own statement acknowledged that his support for the stimulus bill has made his position untenable with the GOP:

"It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania."

Probably the most important point is here is the demographic changes going on in Specter's home state. Pennsylvania is a closed-primary state, and the ranks of registered Republicans, the folks eligible to vote in the GOP primary, shrunk last year. In 2008, between 150,000 and 200,000 registered GOPers switched to the Democratic Party in order to vote in the contentious primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Let's take a look at the deeper numbers -- and how the state's reduced GOP electorate has pulled harder to the right, making this move necessary as a simple matter of political survival. Read more.


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