Poll finds Wolf maintaining wide lead over Corbett in Pennsylvania governor's race

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A wave of critical advertising has done nothing to shrink Democrat Tom Wolf’s substantial lead over Gov. Tom Corbett, according to the latest survey from Franklin & Marshall College.

Mr. Wolf led the incumbent 49 percent to 24 percent in the new survey, a margin virtually unchanged from the last F&M poll in June. Roughly a quarter of the registered voters remained undecided.

Mr. Wolf maintained leads in virtually every geographic and demographic group identified in the survey. The governor led only among Republicans and those who considered themselves conservatives. And even though the GOP respondents chose Mr. Corbett over the Democrat by a margin to 48 percent to 24 percent, fewer than half of the Republicans, 48 percent, said he deserves to be re-elected. Gun owners, a typically Republican group, favored Mr. Wolf by a margin to 40 percent to 36 percent. Another conservative group, voters who describe themselves as born-again Christians, or fundamentalists, favored Mr. Wolf, 42 percent to 28 percent.

Mr. Corbett managed to carry Allegheny County, his normally Democratic home, four years ago, but in the survey he trailed there 37 percent to 29 percent.

In the southwestern Pennsylvania counties surrounding Allegheny County — increasingly friendly territory for most GOP candidates — Mr. Corbett trailed by 62 percent to 23 percent.

The Corbett campaign has tried to tie the challenger to the policies of President Barack Obama. In theory, that assault makes sense, as the survey found that Mr. Obama remains unpopular in the state with only about a third of the voters saying he was doing a good job. But that presidential unpopularity has yet to tarnish Mr. Wolf’s appeal.

Education was cited most often as the most important issue in the race, and that’s an area where Mr. Wolf — like all the candidates in the Democratic primary — has consistently complained of the administration’s funding policies.

The Corbett campaign has trumpeted the state’s falling unemployment rate over the past year, but that’s a message that doesn’t seem to be resonating with the voters. Just 27 percent said they thought the state was headed in the right direction while 61 percent said it was off on the wrong track.

The survey of 520 registered voters included 258 Democrats, 192 Republicans and 70 independents. It had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

First Published August 28, 2014 6:06 AM

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