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Specter Faces Revolt From Pennsylvania Progressives, Poll Finds

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A poll of progressive grassroots Pennsylvanians shows heavy support for a primary challenge to newly minted Democrat Arlen Specter.

The Pennsylvania Senate Straw Poll, sponsored over the course of five days by some of the leading progressive groups in the state and nationally, shows that 85 percent of Pennsylvanians (and 86 percent of national respondents) support a movement to draft Rep. Joe Sestak to run against Specter in the upcoming primary.

Over 7,500 votes were cast in the survey, which was sponsored by Progressive Change Campaign Committee. A new Draft Sestak fundraising site was announced at the same time that the results were released.

"I am honored that so many of you took the time to vote in the recent grassroots Straw Poll," Sestak said in a statement. "Let me tell you, I and many others were paying attention. If I decide to run it will be in large measure because of the grassroots energy of so many people like you. Until I and my family make that decision, please accept my thanks and my best wishes as you continue be active participants in our people-powered democracy. Thank you so very much!"

(Other poll sponsors included Daily Kos, the Pennsylvania Progressive, Keystone Progress, PA-based Afro-Netizen, PA-based Open Left, Latina Lista, and Democracy for America.)

The figures, while far from scientific, reflect a growing progressive lament over the likelihood that Specter will breeze through to the Democratic nomination. A poll of members conducted last week showed that an identical 85 percent of respondents would consider supporting a challenge to Specter if the Senator did not back President Obama's agenda.

The early word after Specter's defection was that the primary field would be cleared for his candidacy. But polls like these could certainly prove tempting enough to compel Sestak to run.

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