If Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor decides to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett in next year’s Republican primary, he will have some catching up to do.
The latest survey from Public Policy Polling, obtained by PoliticsPA, shows the Governor ahead by a 44 point margin, 51 percent to 11 percent.
This poll reflects the fact that Castor’s name ID falls far short of Corbett’s. But perhaps more importantly, the Governor is having a hard time consolidating his party’s support. Less than half of Republicans – 45 percent – said they’d like Corbett to be the GOP nominee in 2014. 37 percent said they want someone else.
Only 54 percent of Republicans said they approve the job he’s doing as Governor. 31 percent disapprove.
The crosstabs tell an interesting story. Corbett does well among self-identified “very conservative” voters, whom he wins 50 percent to 28 against a generic GOP opponent (“someone else”). He does the worst against “somewhat liberal” Republicans (who he loses 70 percent to 23).
That leaves a tough choice ahead for Castor: should he run to Corbett’s left or right? Moderate and liberal Republicans more strongly dislike Corbett, but represent a smaller part of the party base. Conservatives represent more voters and give Corbett higher scores – although their support is soft.
Corbet’’s gender gap – well documented in polls of the general electorate – hurts him in the GOP, too. 47 percent of GOP women say they’re undecided between the two (42 percent for Corbett, 11 for Castor), compared to just 29 percent of men (59 percent for Corbett, 12 for Castor).
Castor, who lost to Corbett in the 2004 primary for Pa. Attorney General, said in December that he was considering a 2014 challenge.
In important issue in 2014 will be the Penn State Scandal. Only 42 percent of Republicans approve of the way that Corbett has handled the issue as AG or Governor, compared to 33 percent who disapprove (though they strongly support his lawsuit against the NCAA, 67 percent to 19).
Finally, a majority of Pa. Republicans support some form of legal recognition of same sex relationships. 14 percent support full marriage equality; 39 percent said gay couples should be allowed civil unions but not marriages. 45 percent said there should be no legal status at all.
The Republicans polled were a subset of the firm’s Jan. 4 to 6 poll of 675 registered Pa. voters. 38 percent of those, or around 257 respondents, were Republicans. That means the margin of error for the Corbett-Castor head to head is about 6 percent.
Here’s the memo, obtained by PoliticsPA.