Governor Tom Corbett

Poll: Leading Democrats would Top Gov. Corbett Today

Quinnipiac University pollsters are already looking ahead to Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race and hypothetical matchups in November 2014.  Today’s poll is the latest in a string of surveys that suggest a tough road to reelection for Republican Governor Tom Corbett. 

Three of the leading Democrats, who may challenge Corbett next year, are winning hypothetical head-to-head matchups by at least nine points. 

But Election Day is still 18-months away and just last month Governor Corbett suggested that poll numbers don’t matter much because they don’t take the big picture into account.

Poll Suggests Gov. Corbett Vulnerable in 2014

Just 39% of voters approve of the job Governor Tom Corbett is doing, according to Wednesday’s Quinnipiac Poll, while 49% disapprove.  The governor’s Quinnipiac Poll numbers have been worse – 35% approval in June 2013 – but not by much. 

Pollster Tim Malloy also took an early look at potential General Election matchups for Corbett in 2014.  “If the election were held today, six of the possible Democratic contenders, their races with the governor would be too close to call,” Malloy explains, “and he would in fact lose convincingly to Representative Joe Sestak and he would lose as well to Allyson Schwartz.”

Former US Congressman Joe Sestak is currently leading Corbett 47 – 38, while current US Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz leads Corbett 42 – 39.  Neither has officially entered the race.   

However Corbett can at least hang his hat on the fact that he’s polling better than the General Assembly.  The legislature’s approval numbers stand at 28 – 58.  Malloy says, “It’s a tough time to be a politician.”

Corbett Struggles in New Quinnipiac Poll

Pennsylvania voters are giving Governor Tom Corbett poor marks half-way through his first term.  Today’s Quinnipiac Poll finds that voters disapprove of the job Corbett is doing by a margin of 42 – 36%.  That’s down from a 40 – 38% approval rating in November’s Quinnipiac Poll.

Pollster Tim Malloy says there’s no strong base of support for Corbett among any income or age group, or in any region of the state.  “It’s halftime in Gov. Tom Corbett’s first term and if he were running a football team instead of a state, he’d fire his offensive coordinator,” Malloy said in a statement.

While 50% of PA voters disapprove of the way Corbett has handled the Penn State scandal over these past 15-months, the poll finds that they do support his lawsuit challenging the NCAA sanctions by a margin of 43 – 37%.

53% of voters say the sanctions – including a four year bowl ban and $60-million dollar fine – were too severe.  13% told pollsters they weren’t severe enough.  Meanwhile, voters do have a favorable opinion of the late Joe Paterno (43 – 29%).

Poll: Santorum has Big Lead in Pennsylvania

Fresh off of primary victories in Alabama and Mississippi, a new poll shows former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum virtually running away with the Keystone State.  Today’s Quinnipiac Poll of Pennsylvania Republicans shows Santorum netting 36% support compared to Mitt Romney’s 22%.  In a head-to-head matchup, Santorum clobbers Romney in Pennsylvania 53 – 32%.  “Pennsylvania Republicans are turning to their native son, former Sen. Rick Santorum,” says pollster Tim Malloy.  But it’s in stark contrast to the December Quinnipiac Poll that showed Santorum with mere 9% support in PA. 

On the same day as the release of the Q-Poll, the Romney campaign announced that former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge is throwing his support behind the former Massachusetts governor. 

Pennsylvania’s current Republican governor, however, remains neutral in the race.  “I will certainly be active once we have the nominee at the convention and thereafter,” Gov. Tom Corbett explains.  “What role I play before the primary still remains to be seen.” 

Santorum has named longtime Corbett political adviser Brian Nutt as his Pennsylvania State Campaign Director.  “Do not read anything into that,” Corbett says. 

But Corbett does remind all Pennsylvanians to never underestimate Rick Santorum.  “I think if I polled you all, he has gone much further than anybody sitting on those chairs right there ever anticipated that he would go,” Corbett told reporters who were gathered in the Governor’s Reception Room for a briefing on an upcoming trade mission.

Poll Looks at Public Opinion Over Penn State Scandal

A new poll samples public opinion over the firing of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, and other aspects of the child sex abuse scandal surrounding former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.   

Pennsylvania voters narrowly support the decision to fire Paterno by 52 to 43 percent.  But the Quinnipiac University poll found support stronger for the dismissal of University President Graham Spanier, at 74%. 

Assistant poll director Tim Malloy says 65% of those surveyed think football has too much influence at Penn State, but 67% say it would be a bad idea to turn down a bowl bid for this year’s football team. He says on the one hand, they’re saying maybe we want to ratchet down the football program at the school, but in the near term, don’t hurt the players.

Malloy says voters were split over Governor Corbett’s handling of the child sex abuse case, but they give the Governor an overall approval rating of 47 to 34 percent.  He says that rating is actually up slightly since the scandal broke, so Corbett did not get hurt by this. He says Governor Corbett is polling better than some other Republican governors.

While Quinnipiac University usually polls on political issues, Malloy says this was such a big story, it’s a state university, the Governor was aware of it when he was Attorney General and Joe Paterno  is probably the best known figure in the state.  He says people in Pennsylvania wanted to talk about this.

Newt Gingrich Surges to Top in Swing State Poll

There’s a new frontrunner in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, at least in the critical swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.  A new Quinnipiac Poll shows Gingrich with a double-digit lead in all three states.  “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is no longer just the flavor of the month since his boomlet has now stretched from November into December and voting begins in Iowa in less than four weeks,” says pollster Peter Brown. 

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

While Gingrich rose to political fame as a Georgia Congressman, he is a native of Harrisburg, PA.  Here in the Keystone State, Gingrich leads a head-to-head matchup with Mitt Romney, 50 – 31 percent.  In hypothetical General Election matchups, Romney trails President Obama by three points; Gingrich trails by eight points.  “The fact that both Romney and Gingrich trail the president by three and eight points respectively at this point in the Keystone State could be a good sign for the Republicans given that Obama carried Pennsylvania by double-digits in 2008,” Brown explains. 

Gingrich leads the pack in Pennsylvania with 31% of likely Republican voters’ support, according to today’s Quinnipiac Poll.  In Florida, Gingrich leads with 35% support, and that number tops out at 36% in Ohio.  Since 1960, no one has won the White House without carrying at least two of these three swing states.

GOP, Women Boost Corbett’s Poll Numbers

Governor Tom Corbett’s approval ratings have reached the elusive 50% mark, according to today’s Quinnipiac Poll.  “Governor Corbett’s batting average with Republicans and women in the state have surged 11 percentage points,” says Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy, who notes that today’s 50 – 32 mark is Corbett’s best to date. 

“Compared to slumping GOP governors in other swing states, he’s headed to the all-star game,” Malloy says. “The governor’s having a good month.  People are gravitating toward him.”  In Ohio, a recent Quinnipiac Poll shows Governor John Kasich under water with a negative 40 – 49 job approval rating.  In Florida, 50% of voters disapprove of the job that Governor Rick Scott is doing. 

“Whatever’s happened in the past few weeks… it may be the flooding, the way he handled that, it may be that people are just warming up to him.  He’s had a good week here,” Malloy said of Corbett’s surge. However, Corbett’s support wanes when voters are asked they like his policies.  42% said they “like” Corbett’s policies, 37% responded “don’t like.”

Poll: Pennsylvanians Prefer Current Electoral College System

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that 52% of Pennsylvania voters want to stick with the winner-take-all model, which awards all of Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the state’s popular vote.  40% of respondents favored a newly proposed plan to award Electoral College votes based on the results in each of the state’s congressional district. 

“The overall state view on this – by a margin of 57 – 32 – is that it is politically motivated.  That Republicans are doing this to get a candidate a better foothold in the state,” says Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy.  There is a political divide on that particular question as 57% of Republicans say the motivation is fairness in reflecting the views of PA voters.  Only 14% of Democrats agreed. 

However, Malloy was struck by the fact that support for the proposed change is merely a toss-up among GOP voters.  “It came down pretty much 50-50 on whether it’s a good idea to change it or not,” Malloy explained while breaking down Republicans’ responses for reporters. 

Asked whether they think the proposed change would affect Pennsylvania’s importance as a key swing state in presidential elections, 51% said it “will hurt” and 38% said it “won’t affect” the state’s clout. 

Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) is sponsoring the proposed change, which has the support of Governor Tom Corbett.  Public hearings are expected next month.  Either way, Pennsylvania will award 20-Electoral Votes in next year’s presidential race.

Capitol Rotunda - Facing House Chamber

Voters Split on Governor Tom Corbett

A new Quinnipiac Poll finds a split job approval rating (39 – 38) for Governor Tom Corbett.  While 39% is a relatively low job approval number, pollster Tim Malloy says there is some good news: “He is doing far better than his counterparts; Gov. Scott of Florida, Gov. Kasich of Ohio, who are in negative territory.”  A widening gender gap appears to be contributing to Governor Corbett’s lukewarm numbers.  “He’s far more popular with men than he is with women,” says Malloy, “There’s an 18 percentage point difference.”  That gap was just seven points in the April Quinnipiac Poll.  23% of PA voters are still undecided on Governor Corbett.  “It could work for him or against him down the road, but it’s a big number that he would obviously try to solicit and win over,” Malloy tells us.

Today’s poll also finds that by roughly 2 to 1 margins, Pennsylvanians support Marcellus Shale drilling, and a tax on the natural gas drilling companies.  Malloy summed it up by saying, “It is drill baby drill, and it is also tax baby tax.”  As those Marcellus Shale poll numbers were being released, the State Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee advanced an amended Marcellus Shale “impact fee” proposal, which would direct revenue to affected counties and municipalities.