Though the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate race is more than two years away, early polling showed Sen. Arlen Specter (R) with a small lead over cable talk show host Chris Matthews, who has made public comments that he might run for Senate in his home state.
A Quinnipiac University poll showed Specter ahead 41 percent to 36 percent. The poll surveyed 1,580 Keystone State voters July 30-Aug. 3 and had a margin of error of 2.5 points.
About 55 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Specter, compared with 26 percent unfavorable. Matthews had a 28 percent favorability rating, 15 percent unfavorable and 55 percent of voters did not know enough about the presumed Democrat to form an opinion.
Matthews has not announced a campaign, but he has made comments to select news organizations that he is considering a run for the seat. The MSNBC host of Hardball hails from the Philadelphia area and his brother, Jim Matthews, is a Montgomery County commissioner.
Jim Matthews lost a statewide bid for lieutenant governor in 2006 on the ticket with Republican gubernatorial nominee Lynn Swann.
Specter, 78, recently said after completing his latest chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkins disease that he plans to seek a sixth term in 2010.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Assistant Director Clay Richards said Specters health and age could make him vulnerable to a challenge from Matthews.
Specter leads by only 5 points in a theoretical matchup, but there is a large undecided vote and many voters dont know enough about Matthews to have an opinion, Richards said in a statement.
According to the same poll, Democrats preferred Matthews, 56 percent to 24 percent, while Republicans picked Specter, 63 percent to 16 percent. Independents also chose Specter over Matthews, 44 percent to 27 percent.