Gov. Tom Corbett and his wife Susan announce a $5 million Economic Growth Initiative Grant for Point Park University last week. (Lake Fong / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Is there a better way to kick off the final month before the general election than diving into the numbers of three new polls assessing the state's race for governor? Perhaps that depends on which campaign you ask.
Actually, there is some good news tucked within the results of three new polls for the campaign of Gov. Tom Corbett, which has been hammered by double-digit deficits in nearly every poll taken since the primary election in May. Let's take a look:
Franklin and Marshall College: The latest poll by Terry Madonna's outfit has a little bit of good news for everyone. For Tom Wolf, Mr. Corbett's Democratic opponent: a lead of54-34 percentage points among likely voters, the same kind of double-digit spread that F&M pollsters have come up with since May. For Mr. Corbett: a tighter race. An F&M poll in August showed only 24 percent of likely voters picking Mr. Corbett. The governor is also getting more backing from his base; 62 percent of Republicans say they intend to vote for Mr. Corbett, as opposed to 48 percent in the August poll.
Mercyhurst University: The school's Center for Applied Politics weighed in for the first time and the results were rough for Mr. Corbett. Among registered voters polled, 43 percent said they would vote for Mr. Wolf if the election was held today, while 28 percent would vote to re-elect the governor. One glimmer of hope for the incumbent? Twenty-two percent of those polled said they had yet to make up their minds.
Keystone Report/Magellan Strategies BR: The right-leaning news site commissioned Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies BR to update its numbers for the first time and, perhaps without too much surprise, it came up with Mr. Wolf holding a lead of just 9 percentage points. That's an improvement over Keystone's July poll, which showed Mr. Corbett trailing by 12 percentage points. That change is attributed to the same factor that F&M noticed: Republicans are finally lining up behind the governor (76 percent support in July versus 83 percent in the new poll.
A word about Pennsylvania's pollsters: When F&M released its August poll, it drew open hostility from the Corbett campaign, which accused Mr. Madonna of trying to influence the election, perhaps because Mr. Wolf's wife sits on the college's board of trustees. But no matter what you think about that tiff, Madonna and F&M have a solid reputation behind them. Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com last week released rankings of major polling outfits across the country, and F&M earned the second-highest ranking of the Pennsylvania-based groups. We urge you to take a look at Mr. Silver's explanation, but if you're interested in the grades, they're right here:
- Muhlenberg College: A-
- Franklin & Marshall College: B+
- Commonwealth Foundation: C+
- Harper Polling: C+
- Philadelphia Inquirer: C+
- Temple University: C+
- Susquehanna Polling and Research: C
- Millersville University: D-