With his poll numbers stuck in the 40s and a lot of Democratic voters looking like they don't want to vote for him, might it have been better move to run as an independent, rather than a Democrat?
That's the question from Steve Kornacki at Salon:
Doing so would have helped Specter in several important areas. First, it would have been treated -- by the media and by the public -- as a far less cynical move than switching parties. Specter's reputation for political independence was and is well-established. By abandoning the increasingly hard-right GOP for independent status, he would have been portrayed as a sympathetic figure -- a victim of the rabid GOP base's irrational purge.
But siding with the Democrats was a step too far, because Specter had been just as independent of Democratic dogma as Republican dogma. By joining the Democrats, he was forced to sync up his positions and his rhetoric with the party base. Every time he changed a position, it became news. The whole transformation reeked of calculation, not principle. Had he simply declared himself an independent, Specter wouldn't have needed to wiggle around nearly as much.
Photo: Specter. Salon/Reuters.