A survey released today by Public Policy Polling is the latest in a trend of sour poll numbers for Gov. Tom Corbett. His approval is negative even among Republican primary voters and he trails every Democratic candidate the pollster matched against him.
“At this point Tom Corbett looks like the most endangered Governor in the country up for reelection next year,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.
General Election Matchups
Corbett trails the three top tier Democratic candidates by 11 points apiece: Pa. Treasurer Rob McCord, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, and former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak each lead the Governor 45% to 34%. Corbett led all 5 of those Democrats in PPP’s January poll.
Businessman Tom Wolf leads by 9 points, 42% to 33%; Former DEP Sec. John Hanger leads by 7 points, 41% to 34%.
From PPP’s January poll, that’s a 17 point move toward McCord, an 18 point move toward Schwartz, a 17 point move toward Sestak, a 21 point move toward Wolf and an 11 point move toward Hanger.
Corbett’s job approval rating is upside down nearly 2 to 1: only 33% approve and 58% disapprove. That’s an 11 point slide from PPP’s January poll which showed him down 38% to 52%.
He does 11 points worse among women, who disapprove 60% to 30%, than men (55% to 36%).
He’s even in negative territory among Republicans whose voting history suggests they are likely to vote in the 2014 primary. They disapprove his job performance 45% to 43%. Overall, self-identified Republicans gave him positive marks 48% to 41%.
Voters disapprove of Corbett’s handling of the “Penn State situation over the last few years” by a wide margin: 58% to 25%. They oppose “Corbett’s plan for privatizing the Pennsylvania lottery” by a margin of 67% to 17%.
By a margin of 49% to 37%, likely GOP primary voters said they’d prefer “someone else” as the party’s candidate for Governor in 2014. GOP women agreed with that sentiment by 19%, men by 6%. Only among Republican voters who identified as “very conservative” or who are 65 or older did Corbett win a majority against a generic opponent.
Corbett leads hypothetical Republican primary challenger Bruce Castor, a Montgomery County Commissioner, 43% to 23% in this poll. That’s a 20 point move in Castor’s favor since PPP’s January survey, when he trailed 51% to 11%.
PPP also tested Corbett against 2012 Senate nominee Tom Smith, a former coal company owner from Armstrong County. He trails Corbett by a mere 4 points in hypothetical matchup, 37% to 33%.
Interestingly, while Castor takes self-described moderate and liberals away from Corbett, Smith is more competitive with him among self-described conservatives. Both Castor, who has said he is considering mounting a challenge, and Smith who has given no such indication, would likely run to Corbett’s right.
The pollster did not test the Democratic candidates head to head, but Sestak is the clear winner in the name ID battle. 52% of respondents knew enough about him to form an opinion. The 5 Dems tested found, in order of highest name ID:
Joe Sestak (52% total): 26% favorable, 26% unfavorable
Allyson Schwartz (38% total): 20% favorable, 18% unfavorable
John Hanger (31% total): 8% favorable, 23% unfavorable
Rob McCord (30% total): 13% favorable, 17% unfavorable
Tom Wolf (22% total): 8% favorable, 14% unfavorable
Among respondents who identified as Democrats, the statewide name ID was slightly higher for each. But oddly, 3 of 5 hopefuls have net negative favorability among Dems.*
Joe Sestak (56% total): 36% fav, 20% unfav
Allyson Schwartz (44% total): 33% fav, 10% unfav
Rob McCord (34% total): 15% fav, 19% unfav
John Hanger (33% total): 10% fav, 23% unfav
Tom Wolf (22% total): 10% fav, 12% unfav
*Note: the margin of error for Democrat-only questions in this poll is significantly higher, so don’t make too much of the details.
There’s a kernel of bad news in the poll for each Democratic candidate, aside those three who have a net unfavorable rating.
The results challenges that narrative that Schwartz is the top Dem candidate, apparently to the contrary of a Democratic Governors Association poll that reportedly showed the Congresswoman performing relatively stronger against Corbett.
The pro-McCord argument that the Treasurer has the benefits of a winning statewide candidate is contradicted by his low statewide name ID and negative favorability ratings.
Sestak supporters who say his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign would give him a head start in the name ID race are correct. However, his split favorability and his even performance with Schwartz and McCord (vis-a-vis Corbett) suggests that his name ID is not inherently an advantage.
Hanger has announced his bid; McCord, Schwartz and Wolf have stopped short of an announcement but have all given indications that they plan to run; Sestak has not taken any overt steps toward a bid.
Although PPP is a Democratic pollster, their results were independently rated the most accurate of the 2012 campaign cycle. They surveyed 504 Pennsylvania voters, including an oversample of 373 usual Republican primary voters, via interactive voice response (autopolla) from March 8th to 10th. The margin of error for the overall survey is plus or minus 4.4%, and +/-5.1% for the GOP sample. 48% of respondents were Democrats, 40% were Republicans.