PPP Poll: Corbett Continues to Sink, Trails All Dems

Tom Corbett portrait loresA 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.

Job (Dis)Approval

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%.

GOP Primary

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.

Democratic Primary

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.

11 Responses

  1. PPP and Quinnipiac are the equivalent of a DNC/Soros/NYT poll. This propaganda worked for Obama; it will not work in PA with anyone with an IQ higher than their shoe size.

  2. Paindy is on to something with the GOP chair. Corbett is seen as a near coconspirator with the Sandusky matter (not saying its true but man folks see it that way). Another question of character of politics over policy and he is sunk and it looks like all money roads lead to the GOP Chair . Dems still can’t throw helmet on field and expect to win. Sestak and Schwartz don’t seem to fit the bill for a general election win but are the clear top two for primary. Onorato must be screaming into his pillow!

  3. I don’t necessarily trust this poll. Reason being, why would the ask lottery privatization question and not PLCB? Or did they ask the question and not report it? Keegan, can you find out?

  4. Why do I think Corbett is hard right…. Let’s start with the privatization of the lottery, then the proposed privatization of the lottery, then the $1 billion cut from public education, how about the support for charter schools. You could throw in the no tax on fracking. How about the lack of action on the Delaware loop hole.

  5. Corbett is paying for surrounding himself with Knights at his round table that are more interested in “persuading” local governments to buy insurance and to sell wine to the PLCB. Does the name of PAGOP Chair Rob Gleason come to mind? It will take AG Kane to do the work that Corbett should be doing to protect his own back and his own political future! AG Kane: Trample out the vintage wear the grapes of wrath are stored. Ditto: ABC!

  6. Jeremy – In what way has Corbett been hard right? The reason his approval is so low among Republicans is that he has (clumsily) governed as a centrist, and allowed the liberal Republicans in the Senate dictate his legislative agenda. If he wants to survive a primary, he needs to force the legislature to advance the more conservative parts of his agenda like Liquor Privatization (only in PA would this not be a bipartisan issue) and pension reform.

  7. Huh? Corbett hasn’t governed as a conservative at all. In fact, he’s has gotten little done the past 2 years. All Castor has to say is that he’s not corrupt like Corbett and will actually work with legislature and accomplish things.

  8. Anyone who runs to the right of Corbett is crazy! Look how running to the hard right went for Corbett.

    Poll after poll show Sestak to be at the top or near the top. It is no secret that I feel the Guv race is a three way race featuring Sestak, Schwartz, and McCord. It should be a tough primary. McCord will need to raise a lot of money in a very short amount of time. He needs to in raise his name ID to be relevant.

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