Voters in Pa. express anger about economy, health care law

A new poll finds Republican Pat Toomey has an apparent 5-point lead over Democrat Joe Sestak. The candidates are competing to succeed five-term Sen. Arlen Specter, whom Sestak beat in the May primary. (Nov. 1)
By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 2, 2010; 4:38 PM

ST. DAVID'S, PA. - At polling sites outside Philadelphia, voters expressed frustration and fury over unemployment, what they see as unfettered spending in Washington, and the new federal health care law - a measure some are convinced will ultimately cost them more in taxes and premiums.

One recurring theme among Republican voters: Nothing good can happen when one party is in total power.

"Everyone thinks this a Republican tidal wave - it's not," said Chuck Benhayon, the state constable and a Republican at a Buck's County grade school and polling center. "It's just an angry electorate voting. These guys have two years to deliver and if they don't, if nothing happens, they are out of there. Voters are smart and sophisticated. They want results."

Turnout was unexpectedly high in the state as voters chose a new senator and governor, the Associated Press reported. The Senate race between Democrat Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey is considered a toss-up. The Republican candidate for governor, Tom Corbett, is comfortably ahead of the Democrat, Daniel Onorato, in recent polls. And several members of Congress are struggling to hold on their seats.

"Lousy," said Judy Dreisbach succinctly when asked how she thought the country was doing. "Obama -he just tells the Congress what to do. They're just lying down for him. You have to have arguing."

Although Dreisbach said she didn't vote for Obama, she felt good when he was elected, felt that something might happen. "I want change. Obama promised change, that he would do something. He did nothing," said the 68-year-old homemaker.

Bernard McHugh, a retired steelworker, said, "I want people in there who aren't afraid of losing their jobs every two years. We have too much debt. We can't spent what we don't have"

"We've got to get a balance back in Congress," said former Republican congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who's running for his old seat. "The last time we had a balanced budget was with a Democratic president and a Republican Congress- maybe we can do that again. People want checks and balances."

Pat Harris, a health technician, agreed that there does need to be balance in government but added that the Democrats haven't had enough time to accomplish needed changes. "We can't keep switching every two years- we have to give them a chance to do something," she said.

At least $25 million has been spent on the Senate contest - largely on negative ads - in a state that for years was reliably blue but has been listing Republican in this cycle.

Sestak and Toomey have each tried to suit up as the voice of moderation and to paint the other as an extremist.

"Honestly, I didn't know there was any space there, but he has found a way to the left of Nancy Pelosi," Toomey sniped the other day.

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