The home stretch is approaching and one of The Battling Toms is gaining ground in yet another poll. The question: does he have enough time to left to come all the way back?
Quinnipiac: Wolf leads 55-38. The newest poll from Quinnipiac University has a now-familiar theme: Gov. Tom Corbett is cutting into the lead held by Democratic challenger Tom Wolf since the primary election in May, but in spite of the gains, Mr. Wolf's lead is still substantial. In this poll, Quinnipiac found Mr. Wolf holding a 17-point lead; that's down from the 24-point lead he held over Mr. Corbett in Quinnipiac's poll released last month. The poll points out that Republicans are finally lining up behind the incumbent governor, but the 75-22 percent margin, represents one of the lowest rates of same-party support for a sitting governor in the country. And even with the gains, it's clear that time is running out for Mr. Corbett, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll: "With a slight shift in the numbers as a handful of Republicans come back, there is a pinprick of light at the end of the long, dark reelection tunnel, but time is not on (Gov.) Corbett's side. It's a matter of simple math and the ticking clock and both are working against Gov. Corbett."
It's the economy, stupid. The campaign of Mr. Wolf has seized on a recent no good, very bad week for Mr. Corbett – the one that was filled with less-than-happy economic news – and created two news attack ads, both of which were released Monday. Here's a sample:
Both ads hit the same themes: the Corbett administration securing a $1.5 billion line of credit from the state treasury, an increase in the state's unemployment rate for the second month in a row and a downgraded credit rating for the third time in two years. Both also add a parting shot we saw in an ad last week – that the state had dropped to 47th in the country in job creation. Mr. Corbett is focusing on money issues as well, as we saw in an ad – one that's actually a little funny – his campaign released last week:
This works on a couple of levels. It moves attention away from education funding, a battle that Mr. Corbett has probably lost. It plays on the uncertainty that surrounds Mr. Wolf's income tax proposal, especially since Mr. Wolf hasn't yet told us the specifics of his plan. And Mr. Corbett's people get bonus points for being actually funny, as opposed to trying and failing.
One last try. If Mr. Corbett is going to overcome the lead that Mr. Wolf has enjoyed for months, the comeback will have to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, when The Battling Toms hold their third and final debate of the campaign, held at and airing on WTAE. By our count, Mr. Corbett has won twice, first in front of a Republican-friendly crowd at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry's annual dinner and then in a Philadelphia television studio. But neither victory was decisive, and if Mr. Corbett is going to make up a double-digit deficit with just a month to go, he's going to have to start with Corbett-Wolf III.