Campaign poll shows Schwartz ahead

Published by Karen Langley on .

With the 2014 gubernatorial election more than a year away, a set of polls conducted for Allyson Schwartz’s campaign show the Montgomery County congresswoman leading her Democratic opponents as well as Gov. Tom Corbett.

A survey released in June by Quinnipiac University also showed Schwartz leading the pack and topping Corbett.

The campaign’s survey of likely primary voters found Schwartz leading opponents Kathleen McGinty, a former Department of Environmental Protection secretary, and businessman Tom Wolf, as well as state Treasurer Rob McCord.

It found Schwartz receiving 34 percent of the vote, with McGinty at 15 percent, Wolf at 11 percent and McCord at 10 percent, according to a memo describing the results. With the primary contest not until next year, the poll found 30 percent of likely primary voters (48 percent in the Pittsburgh region) undecided.

While she strongly led the Philadelphia region -- with 61 percent, compared to 9 percent for McGinty and 6 percent for the other two -- Schwartz also came out on top in the Pittsburgh region, though the area’s high proportion of undecided voters meant she could do it with 15 percent, compared to McGinty’s 14 percent.

The survey, by Benenson Strategy Group, which polled for Kathleen Kane in 2012, tried to gauge how preferences would shift as voters learn more about the candidates by sharing with respondents a “positive profile” of each candidate. The campaign declined to share the profiles, though pollster Pete Brodnitz of Benenson Strategy said they tried to use language the other candidates use about themselves.

After hearing those profiles, the poll showed Schwartz’s share increase to 46 percent, compared to 17 percent for Wolf, 14 percent for McCord and 11 percent for McGinty.

“Nothing is set in stone, but everything I think points in the same direction, which is that she starts off with an advantage, and when the campaign unfolds her advantage should increase, not decrease,” Brodnitz said.

The primary poll was based on 800 interviews with likely 2014 Democratic primary voters from July 16 to 18. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.46 percent, according to a memo from Benenson Strategy group.

A second survey focused on the general election found Schwartz leading Corbett 49 to 41 percent, with 10 percent undecided. That poll was based on interviews with 600 likely 2014 general election voters from Aug. 6 to 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Brodnitz said his firm did not poll the other Democratic candidates against Corbett.

The results are in line with those of a survey released June 7 by Quinnipiac University. That poll showed Schwartz leading other challengers -- though with a much higher proportion of primary voters undecided -- and topping Corbett 45-35. It found McCord beating Corbett 43-45.

That survey, conducted from May 30 to June 4, found Schwartz at 18 percent, far above other Democrats, although 63 percent were undecided.

The Schwartz campaign’s poll also tested how voters would respond to messages about their candidate and abortion. Respondents to the general-election poll heard the following two statements:

1) Supporters of Tom Corbett say prior to running for Congress, Schwartz ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia. In Congress and the State Senate, she has pushed a pro-abortion agenda, including opposing parental notification, supporting partial birth abortions, and voting against the Religious Freedom Act.

2) Supporters of Allyson Schwartz say she helped found the non-profit Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center to provide access to quality, affordable health care. While the center did provide legal abortion services, Schwartz’s goal was to reduce the number of abortions by helping women get access to better health care and contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

The poll found 51 percent of likely voters agree with the Schwartz supporters, 33 percent agree with the Corbett supporters and 16 percent don’t know, according to the polling memo.

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