Gov. Tom Corbett has been on the offensive lately in his race to fend off a challenge from York businessman Tom Wolf, but a new poll from Franklin and Marshall College shows the incumbent's efforts are apparently going unnoticed.
Mr. Wolf, the Democratic challenger, leads 49 percent to 24 percent over Mr. Corbett, with 25 percent of poll respondents saying they were undecided. In spite of a flood of new ads and a very public schedule, that's a step backwards for the governor; Franklin and Marshall's previous poll, released in June, showed Mr. Wolf with a 47-25 lead, with 27 percent of voters undecided.
It gets worse for Mr. Corbett -- and perhaps any other incumbents in the state who are looking at uncomfortably close races in the fall. In the June poll, 59 percent said they believed the state was "off on the wrong track." In the new poll, that number has climbed to 61 percent.
Mr. Corbett's recent ads have tried to peg Mr. Wolf as hypocritical on taxes, anti-gun and evasive about his personal finances. But the new poll shows voters are getting a different message: 27 percent recalled a negative tone, 13 percent remembered a focus on education, 6 percent recalled that it discussed the location of Mr. Wolf's business -- and 9 percent came away with a feeling that the ad was "dishonest or inaccurate."
Mr. Wolf has been discussing the whereabouts of Wolf Home Products as well; 15 percent recalled a mention of the company. Eleven percent noticed a negative tone in Wolf ads and 10 percent recalled Wolf's frequent contention that he would tax energy drilling companies.
Mr. Corbett's campaign has tried to fight off the claim that his administration cut education funding by $1 billion, but poll director G. Terry Madonna said in an accompanying release that Mr. Corbett hasn't done enough to change perception on the issue, which was identified in the poll as the most important issue facing the state.
"Gov. Corbett needs to change the narrative about his leadership's effectiveness, and he hasn't done it," Mr. Madonna said.