By Alex Roarty
A new poll released Thursday from Franklin & Marshall College, which reported GOP statewide candidates Tom Corbett and Pat Toomey each possessed a roughly 10-point lead, illustrates the enthusiasm gap plaguing Democrats this year both in Pennsylvania and across the country.
It’s why Toomey, Corbett and a host of GOP congressional candidates appeared poised for success despite running in a state that has 1 million more registered Democrats and has eviscerated most Republican candidates the last two election cycles.
Only 37 percent of Democrats are likely to vote, the poll reports, compared to 45 percent of Republicans. More strikingly, half of those who voted for GOP presidential nominee John McCain in 2008 are likely to vote, it said. That number drops 15 points, to 35 percent, for those who supported President Obama.
The enthusiasm gap’s effect can be seen clearly in the difference between polls on the statewide races that surveyed registered voters with likely voters. GOP gubernatorial nominee Corbett, for instance, leads Democratic opponent Dan Onorato by only 1 point, 29 percent to 28 percent, when all registered voters are considered. But his lead swells by 10 points, 38 percent to 27 percent, when likely voters are considered.
The poll shows the same effect in the Senate race. U.S. Senate nominee Toomey leads Democratic opponent Joe Sestak by 3 points, 31 percent to 28 percent, when the polls surveys registered adults. With likely voters, Toomey’s lead grows by 6 points, 40 percent to 31 percent.
On the generic ballot, Republicans lead Democrats 41 percent to 35 percent among likely voters.
The poll also underscores the status of both Corbett and Toomey as favorites in their respective races. Toomey leads Sestak by 5.5 points in the pollster.com poll average; Corbett leads Onorato by more than 9 points in the same poll average.