A new CBS/New York Times survey suggests that Democratic nominee Tom Wolf’s lead may not be as strong as previously thought.
According to the online scientific poll, Wolf holds a 42% to 33% lead over Gov. Corbett. When you include respondents who lean towards a candidate, however, Wolf’s lead expands to a 52% to 38% margin. (You can read an explanation of online scientific polls here).
In reality, the results are a tale of two polls. In one Wolf holds a sizable advantage, while in the other Governor Corbett’s comeback hopes seem suddenly legitimate. This depends heavily on the “leaners” and whether they will show up to vote come election day.
For example, based on firm responses among male voters Corbett leads his Democratic challenger 41% to 39%. When you include the leaners, though, the candidates are tied with men at 46%.
The portion of Wolf supporters that are merely “leaning” towards him is particularly high among young (22%), female (13%) and Hispanic (35%) voters. The problem for the Democratic nominee is that among those portions of citizens who tend not to vote during off-year elections are young, female and Hispanic voters.
Make no mistake, Wolf is still in the driver’s seat in this race. If you include leaners, he leads every age group as well as black, Hispanic, female, Democratic, Independent, liberal and moderate voters. Furthermore, he’s tied with Corbett among males and white voters and only trails the Governor among conservatives.
The key issue is whether Wolf’s support is soft. If so, then the incumbent may be able to chip away at Wolf’s lead through a massive negative TV ad campaign (as Gov. Corbett is currently doing).
To win the Governor’s seat, the Democratic front-runner must solidify his support and not rest on the laurels of his lead, for it may shrink significantly (and perhaps even completely) if he’s not careful.