Shades of Santorum? Corbett Critic Pounces on PPP Numbers

Santorum Portrait Low_resThis one has been making the rounds of conservative activists.

After a PPP poll earlier this week showed Gov. Tom Corbett’s approval rating in negative territory, one conservative critic warns that the GOP is heading for a repeat of 2006.

That’s the year former Rick Santorum lost to Bob Casey by 17 points – one of the biggest defeats ever of a sitting Senator.

“Today, Gov. Corbett has much worse numbers than former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum did at this point in 2005,” wrote Ryan Shafik, referring to a survey from Quinnipiac. “Consider: In Feb. 2005, Santorum had an Approval/Disapproval rating of 52% – 31%. In contrast, Governor Corbett’s Approval/Disapproval rating is at 38% – 52%. Santorum’s approval was + 19 points, while Corbett is underwater at minus (–) 14 points.”

Shafik is the principal at Rockwood Strategies and a full time, anti-establishment troublemaker in the GOP. He’s also part of the brain trust for Bruce Castor, the Montgomery County Commissioner who has floated a primary bid against Corbett.

Castor and his supporters are hoping to diminish Corbett’s enormous incumbency advantage by making the case that he is the less electable candidate.

Several other Republican operatives dismissed the connection.

The PPP survey was done of Pa.’s registered voters (as opposed to likely voters), using a 48 percent to 38 percent margin of Democrats to Republicans. Thus those numbers are likely to present a more favorable landscape for Democrats than Pa.’s voting history suggests.

“These guys are barking up the wrong tree. 2006 was a Democrat wave year,” said one veteran GOP consultant. “The mid-term election during a president’s second term is always better for the other party.”

In 2014, President Obama will be nearing the end of his second term and if history is a guide, it will be a good year for Republicans overall.

Additionally, that same 2005 Quinnipiac survey showed Casey five points ahead of Santorum. The son of a former Governor and a statewide official, Casey was far more competitive out of the gate than any of the candidates who appear interested in challenging Corbett in 2014.

As a side note, former DEP Secretary John Hanger’s campaign also seized on the PPP numbers, noting that he was in a statistical dead heat with Corbett (41 percent to 37). “Hanger is also in front of other potential candidates including former Congressman Joe Sestak, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, Treasurer Rob McCord and businessman Tom Wolf who all trail the governor by 6 to 12 points,” his campaign noted.

Here’s the full Shafik memo:

Corbett Polling Numbers Memo 01.08.13 by

13 thoughts on “Shades of Santorum? Corbett Critic Pounces on PPP Numbers

  1. “That’s the year former Rick Santorum lost to Bob Casey by 17 points – one of the biggest defeats ever of a sitting Senator.”

    Is Rick Santorum no longer Rick Santorum?

  2. The Kane Freed election was a proxy for Corbett 2014. Freed underperformed every other Republican candidate and Kathleen Kane outperformed every other candidate including Bob Casey.

    This leads to the inference that Republicans would rather vote for a Democrat for AG than a Corbett Crony.

    Keegan Gibson’s history lesson says that the 2014 Governor will be a Republican. It apears that Republican will not be Corbett.

    The City of Harrisburg is the state’s fiscal future if Democrats take control of Governor’s office and the productive taxpayers of Pennsylania will pay a penalty.

    We look forward to a vigorous Republican primary.

  3. But that was not your argument in the article above, was it? It was that history tells us it will be a good year for Republicans “overall.” History is not a telling guide on that assertion, as is outlined above.

    To your point about Democrats/Republicans always winning the Governor’s office when the other party is in the White House: You would also have to go back pretty far to find the first time a Democratic President was elected nationally with 51% or more of the vote share twice. Moreover, you would never find an instance in which a Democratic female candidate won for Attorney General, or an African American was elected to the White House.

    My point is this: back in 2006 and 2008, you could have pointed to history to disqualify the Democrats’ chances of taking back/retaining the state House. Or, in 2012, you could have done the same for Democrats picking-up 3 state Senate seats. Or, you would have never found an instance in which Democrats swept the row offices.

    Finally, your analogy does not really work, due to the fact that Governor’s were not running for second terms back in the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, etc. Trends do not always portend election outcomes, and when you insert something like that into your story, it seems like you are citing speculation as fact.

    2014 is not 2010 in PA, and Corbett is not Fisher, Ridge, or Rendell. Republicans hold all of the power here in PA, the Governor is very unpopular, and the GOP in Washington is inept. But, regardless of history, likely voter models, polling samples/demographics, or campaign tactics, the fact that the press and this Administration believe that something such as Gubernatorial outcomes in the 80′s and 90′s lend itself to a victory for Corbett is a good thing for those who do not agree with the policies being pushed in Harrisburg.

    There will be a lot of shocked people come November, 2014.

  4. @John – You’d have to go back to the 1920s to find the last time that Pa. elected or re-elected a Governor of the same party as the President in the President’s 2nd term midterm.

    In 1926, Pa. voted for Gov. John Fisher during Calvin Coolidge’s midterm (you could argue that it wasn’t a true second midterm given that Coolidge replaced the deceased Warren Harding, but I digress).

  5. This somewhat academic discussion among politicos is dwarfed by points made elsewhere on this website…
    http://www.politicspa.com/harper-poll-pa-voters-support-corbett-ncaa-suit/45279/
    …that illustrate why this overall story has “legs” which promise to evolve to the detriment of all involved, including Corbett.

    For example, a few minutes ago, without my recalling having requested such information, I received a hyperlink to a website…
    http://www.newser.com/?utm_source=dailydigest&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=logo
    …that was generated because “Newser located this story for you on Thursday, January 10, 2013 7:01 AM. The story matched your section(s) all.”

    Both the e-mail and the website provided a prominent hyperlink to an article…
    http://www.newser.com/story/160722/sandusky-back-in-court-says-trial-wasnt-fair.html?utm_source=dailydigest&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20130110
    …that illustrates why each/every citation of this issue will cite “prosecutors” [soon to include KK, necessarily] in a favorable light.

  6. @Keegan: Not true. The 6 year itch is a fallacy. If you look back over the past several decades, midterm outcomes all depend on circumstances.

    Typically, there has been one very poor midterm for a President, with the other more of an even outcome.

    For instance, in 2002, George W Bush beat back the “first midterm election slump” that incumbents usually face, and the GOP saw gains across the country. Yes, the 9/11 tragedies had just occurred, but conversely, he had a very poor 2006 due to his incompetence on the war and Hurricane Katrina.

    In 1998, Clinton actually led Dems to pick-ups federally. And, this happened even with the Lewinsky scandal at the forefront.

    In the midterm elections of 1986, the Democratic Party gained five seats in the House, and won several U.S. Senate seats Despite that, Republicans gained eight governorships. Overall, this was much better outcome for Republicans than 1982, where they got shellacked.

    The bottom line is that asserting 2014 will be good for Republicans based on historical fact is wrong. Pundits like to say it will occur as due to the past, but you just cannot do so after looking at specific results.

    Here is the reality: Presidents that serve two terms, over the course of history, usually have one major set-back election, and another which is more of a mixed bag.

    And, even when there are great years for Republicans (where their base is more energized and moderates are trending their way), Democrats can win state-wide office in Pennsylvania. Rendell did it in 2002, and if not for a campaign that could have done more from a grassroots standpoint, Joe Sestak would have done it in 2010.

    Observer points out something important here–you should not insert opinion in articles based on what you believe to be history. The facts are the facts: PPP is an accurate robo pollster, but not the best. Their results are more right than wrong. And Corbett’s numbers spell trouble.

  7. @Observer – It’s not a partisan thing. The midterm election during a President’s second term historically has been better for the opposing party.

    BTW – PPP’s “likely voter” models were rated the most accurate, not “registered voter” ones like this.

  8. I am not of the opinion 2014 will be a bad year for the Dems. Independents are moving toward leaning Dems and when you have the most promnent GOP Governor (Christie) slamming Washington Republicans that doesn’t bode well for the whole party. Of course a lot can happen in the next 22 months.

  9. 2014 will be an interesting year. Unlike past PA gubernatorial reelection campaigns, this one will be difficult for the incumbent.

    I agree that its a little too early for anyone to be counting their Sandusky chickens. It is important for the PA Dems to find the right candidate and clear the field for them.

    I agree that Corbett is damaged, but a repeat of the charade of 2010 on the D side could make him a two termer, regardless of his baggage.

  10. You continue to dismiss PPP’s methodology, with no good reason. Which pollster was most accurate in PA and USA this last election? PPP, by a wide margin. You better come up with a better reason to discount them than “PA’s voting history suggests.” Voting history is the LEAST accurate measure of what is happening now, as was decisively proven not two months ago. Learn from your mistakes.

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