Democratic challenger Tom Wolf leads Governor Corbett by 20 points in poll


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Gov. Tom Corbett got the endorsement of a boilermakers union local Wednesday. But as he considers the latest poll results, he may want to down a boilermaker; maybe two.

The Quinnipiac University survey found Mr. Corbett trailing Tom Wolf, his Democratic challenger, by 20 percentage points, 53 percent to 33 percent. It was the third poll in a week showing the Republican incumbent in severe jeopardy of becoming the first Pennsylvania governor ever to be defeated for re-election.

A Rasmussen poll released Sunday saw Mr. Wolf leading, 51 percent to 31 percent. On Tuesday, Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, depicted the York businessman's post-primary lead as 55 percent to 30 percent.

Amid a challenging budget debate, Mr. Corbett faces the hurdles of not only of wooing undecided voters, but peeling away the supporters of a rival who has attracted a majority of registered voters in three consecutive post-primary polls.

"There's no good news anywhere for Gov. Corbett," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement accompanying the latest results.

Mr. Corbett retained the support of 70 percent of the Republicans surveyed, but his challenger won majorities with every other broad demographic group -- Democrats, independents, men, women and voters of all ages.

After winning office with a comfortable majority four years ago, Mr. Corbett's overall approval ratings and job performance numbers were the lowest Quinnipiac has found in its regular surveys during his administration. Nearly a third of GOP voters -- 28 percent -- said they did not approve of the way he has handled his job, and a similar proportion, 29 percent, of his own party said they did not feel he deserved to be re-elected.

Mr. Wolf faced increasingly sharp criticisms from other Democratic contenders in a primary campaign that he won in a landslide, but the attacks don't appear to have had damaged him. Overall, 46 percent of the voters said they had a favorable view of the nominee, while only 12 percent had an unfavorable view. He enjoyed comfortably positive reviews from almost all of the sub-groups surveyed and even among Republicans.

The findings do suggest that Republican campaigners still have opportunity to shape unformed views of their opponent. With five months to go before the election, 38 percent of those surveyed said they didn't know enough about Mr. Wolf to express an overall opinion of him. Understandably, Mr. Corbett is much better known. Just 16 percent of the voters said they hadn't heard enough about him to express an opinion.

The Legislature, controlled by GOP majorities in both chambers, is only slightly less unpopular than the governor. Just 27 percent of the voters said they approved of its job performance while 46 percent disapproved. A majority, 54 percent, said they were at least somewhat dissatisfied with the way things were going in the state, while 45 percent said they were satisfied.

The respondents saw Mr. Wolf as better able to handle every one of a list of issues tested.

His strongest advantage was on education, where three of every five voters said they thought the Democrat would do a better job than the incumbent. His narrowest margin was on the issue of abortion, where the pro-choice Democrat received the support of 35 percent, compared to 31 percent for the anti-abortion rights incumbent.

The Quinnipiac results were based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,308 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent.

 

Politics editor James O'Toole: jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562. First Published June 4, 2014 9:07 AM

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