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Sabato Moves PA-Gov from Toss-up to Leans Democratic

Tom Corbett
Tom Corbett

One of the nation’s top political scientists has some bad news for Tom Corbett. Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says Pennsylvania is the state with an incumbent governor most likely to lose in 2014.

He is the only Governor in the country who Sabato rates as likely to lose as opposed to toss-up.

Said Sabato in his Crystal Ball”:

While it is uncommon to classify any incumbent governor as an underdog at such an early point in the cycle, Corbett is a rare case: His numbers are dreadful, and he seems to us to be a particularly maladroit politician, prone to painful gaffes, who is also probably too conservative for his state. A recent Quinnipiac poll sums up his problems: His approval rating is stuck at an awful 35%, and he trails his largely unknown potential opponents by about 10 percentage points (more on Corbett below). How bad is it for Corbett? Even an internal GOP poll shows him struggling mightily.

Although Corbett’s troubles are well-documented and numerous, Sabato blames the Jerry Sandusky scandal as the igniting factor in Corbett’s likely defeat.

As mentioned above, we believe Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is the incumbent likeliest to lose if he makes it to November 2014. One of the reasons for it has to deal with the state’s flagship university, Penn State. Corbett, who was state attorney general prior to his 2010 gubernatorial election, has been hurt by the horrific abuse case that brought down legendary football coach Joe Paterno, and the story is so awful that we suspect it will remain on many Pennsylvanians’ minds for years. The university’s football team is in the midst of a crippling, four-year postseason ban, which means the team is ineligible to play in the Big Ten’s conference championship game or a postseason bowl game. So imagine if the team is undefeated on Election Day — voters will know that the squad’s sterling record will be for naught thanks to the postseason ban. And imagine if the team is scuffling — wouldn’t that produce a salty mood amongst fans, too? Yes, this sounds almost trivial, but bad feelings about Penn State in fall 2014 may invariably translate to bad feelings about the incumbent governor. Given Corbett’s horrible polling, Democrats are lining up to run for the seat. The two leading contenders are Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) and state Treasurer Rob McCord (D). Corbett has to hope for a bruising battle, but even that might not matter. The Keystone State has a post-World War II tradition: Each party has exchanged eight uninterrupted years of control of the governorship in that timeframe. Perhaps the best way for the Republicans to keep the streak going would be for Corbett to step aside, although a Corbett rebound isn’t out of the question either.

Sabato has been widely cited for his ability to predict elections. In 2008, he correctly predicted all 35 senate races and all 11 gubernatorial races, and missed Barack Obama’s Electoral College victory by 1 point.

7 Responses

  1. Former Constable Eric Bradway Is Running for Governor on the Democratic Ticket

  2. dr. bob is right.

    Corbett has not explained the three year delay in Sandusky while and he has consistently disappointed the principled grassroots base on numerous occasions.

    This is the former Senator Rick Santorum model. Rick Santorum received 797,000 fewer votes in 2000 as in 2006 by disappointing the principled grassroots base.

  3. In multiple postings provided during the past year [plus during one-on-one chats with key-people], I have argued Corbett will be subject to bipartisan opprobrium due to his allegedly mishandled Sandusky investigation [too little, for too long, while the perp was on the streets].

    That this is a primary source of concern has been corroborated by multiple polls, and this threatens to alienate PSU-enthusiasts; now, those who feel an over-reaction has transpired may become alienated by learning of the tens-of-millions-lost as a result of such liability [along with a tarnished reputation].

    NOW, the following reflects the same type of over-reaction that many people feel Corbett exhibited when peremptorily firing JoePa [essentially destroying his will-to-live after having received chemo-therapy for oat cell lung cancer, weeks later].

    Profligate spending to rehab the football program will not sit well with the electorate, and Corbett functions as the ex-officio Chair of the Board [a power he exercised to fire Spanier and Paterno], so he must accept responsibility for such over-spending [and Penn State adherents will not necessarily reflexly support this action, noting having been dismayed by such “leadership” in the past].

  4. A good opportunity for the Governor to get reelected would be for him to get behind HB/SB 76 to eliminate the school property tax forever. This is the single biggest issue facing Pennsylvanians today. It would also be a huge positive effect on the PA economy. Come on Governor, stop ignoring the “elephant in the room” he will eventually squash you!

  5. Politics is 99% image and charisma. Corbett is as charismatic as a stale doughnut. If the 2012 election showed anything, it showed stiff old white guys (Romney) do not appeal to women and young voters. Allyson Schwartz will tap into the new demographics of female and under 30 voters along with the sizable non-white (Asian,Latino,Afro-American) population and run a Progressive campaign that will deliver a shellacking to the tired and stuffy GOP in ’14. You can bet she will get plenty of help from national Dems, including campaign appearences from President Obama. Corbett’s only wild card is to champion property tax elimination, a red-hot issue with PA voters. Otherwise, if he stands pat and continues his do-nothing stewardship he is in for a major thumping at the polls.

  6. I would disagree that he is too conservative for Pennsylvania. By being neither too liberal or too conservative and failing to lead in any clear direction he has managed to piss off everyone. Take a look at Wisconsin. Governor Walker’s agenda. It was certainly too conservative for deep blue Wisconsin but he clearly identified their financial problems and LED the state toward getting a handle on their public sector debt. Governor Corbett needs to lead.

    Right now the eminently sensible idea of treating liquor like 48 of the other states do is beyond a party that controls the both the executive and legislative branch. That’s a lack of leadership within your own party Governor Corbett. And it disgusts everyone.

    There’s his promise to sign HB/SB 76 the School Property Tax (elimination) Independence Act if it gets to his desk. Has he done anything to help get it to his desk? The Republican leadership is content to keep it bottled up in committee. The bill has wide bipartisan support, it has no lib/con problem because it’s a fairness issue – no tax should take away your home. All that stands in the way is the status quo establishment. Show leadership and the vote of every property owner will belong to you and every legislator (R & D) who votes for it. Stay on the present course and your legacy will be a party in shambles and defeat. That’s your choice Governor.

  7. The GOP will follow him over the cliff a la Santorum in ’06. Just like that guy from the SE said who was running against him for a while. They never learn. Ever.

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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