Republican Senate hopeful Pat Toomey, three-term Pennsylvania Congressman, surged ahead of incumbent Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat Senator Arlen Specter in the latest Daily News/Franklin & Marshall Poll.

According to the article:

… Toomey jumped out to a 14-point lead when the poll targeted “likely voters,” people who said they are certain to vote and are paying close attention to the race.

Among that group, Toomey led Specter 45-31 percent, with 20 percent undecided.

Pennsylvania voters remember that Arlen Specter only narrowly defeated Toomey in the Republican primay in 2004, by less than two percentage points or about 26,000 votes. As Pennsylvania voters react in the wake of a Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts, one can only expect Toomey’s poll numbers to increase over his Democratic opponent’s through the general election. Note: Specter himself is being challenged by Congressman Joe Sestak; however, the incumbent Senator holds a commanding lead over his challenger.

What are the issues that matter most to Pennsylvanians? According to the article, “The poll found health care, the economy and jobs to be the top issues in the race.” These are all issues which many Americans feel like the President is handling poorly. As Obama’s poll numbers continue to sink, expect him to drag Democratic incumbents down significantly.

Rasmussen Reports polled potential voters this month, revealing that voters would likely support the (R) label over the (D) label in any given Congressional race by 46 – 37. On a more striking note, among unaffiliated voters, “the GOP leads this week by a near two-to-one margin, 46% to 24%.”

Tonight’s State of the Union Address might allow President Obama to regroup and refocus his message on job creation and stimulating the economy. If he doesn’t make headway soon, it could spell certain doom for Congressional Democrats.

Columnist Michael Barone hypothesized a Democratic stumble in the same way Republicans were rebuked in the wake of the Watergate scandal. From today’s column:

Many people ask me whether the Democrats are in as much trouble as they were in 1994. The numbers suggest they are in much deeper trouble, at least at this moment. Back in 1994 I wrote the first article in a nonpartisan publication suggesting that the Republicans had a serious chance to win the 40 seats necessary for a majority in the House. That article appeared in U.S. News & World Report in July 1994.

This year political handicapper Charlie Cook is writing in January, six months earlier in the cycle, that Republicans once again would capture the 40 seats they need for a majority if the House elections were held today. I concur. The generic vote question — which party’s candidates would you vote for in House elections — is at least as favorable to Republicans as it was in the last month before the election in 1994.

Whether 2010 looks like 1994 or 1974 will be debated by pundits nightly through late October. Whatever the results, voters hold the key to a dramatic shift in the balance of power in Washington. Let’s hope they decide accordingly.

Matthew Hurtt graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in May 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science. He can be reached at [email protected].