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Harper poll shows tighter race for Corbett, Wolf

Published by Mike Pound on .

Gov. Tom Corbett. (Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette)Gov. Tom Corbett. (Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette)

After two consecutive polling disasters, the campaign for Gov. Tom Corbett has to be buoyed – at least a bit – by numbers in a Harper Polling poll released Thursday.

Yes, as was the case in recent Franklin and Marshall College and Robert Morris University polls, Mr. Corbett trails Tom Wolf, his Democratic challenger, by double digits; the Harper poll, however, pegs Mr. Wolf's lead at 11 percentage points (52-41, with 7 percent of respondents undecided), much tighter than, say, the 30-percentage-point spread in the RMU poll.

There are a few other things in the Harper poll that might boost the moods of Mr. Corbett's campaign team, some of whom have seemed grumpy as of late.

  • Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said they oppose Mr. Wolf's plan to increase taxes on households with an income of $90,000 or more, while 34 percent said they supported the plan and 15 percent were undecided.
  • The Corbett campaign has apparently succeeded in making Mr. Wolf's personal income taxes a campaign issue; 40 percent of those polled said they would be less likely to vote for Mr. Wolf because he paid at a below-average income tax rate from 2010 to 2012.
  • The Democratic contention that Mr. Corbett is responsible for cutting $1 billion in education funding hasn't stuck. Respondents were split pretty evenly on whether Mr. Corbett's explanation – that the money lost was federal stimulus funds – was credible, with 48 percent saying Mr. Corbett's contention was "very" or "somewhat" credible, while 47 percent called the argument "not very" or "not at all" credible.
  • Mr. Corbett's explanation that a gas extraction tax isn't necessary in Pennsylvania also has gained some traction. Forty-seven percent said they found Mr. Corbett's argument "very" or "somewhat" credible while 49 percent said it was "not very" or "not at all" credible.

But before Mr. Corbett's people get too excited, there is one more number to point out. Harper asked respondents to pick a winner in the race, without regards to their personal preference; 61 percent said Mr. Wolf would defeat Mr. Corbett, while just 33 percent picked the incumbent.

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Wolf allies point to McDonnell fundraisers

Published by Karen Langley on .

Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell leaves a federal courthouse after being convicted Thursday on corruption charges.Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell leaves a federal courthouse after being convicted Thursday on corruption charges. (AP photo)

A political group campaigning for Tom Wolf is using 2010 fundraisers to try to draw former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell's corruption convictions into the Pennsylvania governor's race.

After the announcement this afternoon of the McDonnell verdict, the Campaign for a Fresh Start pointed to a 2010 report of three fundraisers McDonnell headlined or hosted for Governor Tom Corbett.

Fresh Start also criticized the state Republican Party for featuring McDonnell at its 2013 Lincoln Day Dinner.

"By keeping the money McDonnell raised for them, Corbett and the Pennsylvania Republican Party are condoning corruption -- it's as simple as that," the group said.

GOP spokeswoman Megan Sweeney responded by reasserting the party's claim that Fresh Start has been violating state election law.

The Corbett campaign had no immediate response.

UPDATE 11 p.m.: The Corbett campaign issued a statement earlier this evening saying it has not received any donations from McDonnell this cycle. It continued:

Tom Wolf has repeatedly condoned the abuse of the taxpayers’ resources and trust and should be the last person throwing charges on personal ethics considering his own rap sheet. Wolf gave tens of thousands of dollars to officials Tom Corbett put behind bars for public corruption and raised money so Stephen Stetler could attempt to overturn his conviction and keep his taxpayer-funded pension. Tom Wolf’s actions speak for themselves, and he simply can’t be trusted to put hardworking Pennsylvanians before his political allies or special interests.

The state GOP also said it had received no contributions from McDonnell.

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New RMU poll shows deeper hole for Corbett

Published by Mike Pound on .

Gov. Tom Corbett (Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette)Gov. Tom Corbett (Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette)

 

By now, another poll showing Tom Wolf holding a double-digit lead over Gov. Tom Corbett shouldn't be a surprise.

The suspense is in waiting to see what the Corbett campaign will do to respond.

First, the new numbers: an online poll conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute shows that Mr. Wolf, the Democratic challenger for the governor's seat, holds a lead of more than 30 percentage points over Mr. Corbett, with about 20 percent undecided. Add those undecideds to the totals for each candidate they said they'd lean towards, and Mr. Wolf gets a boost of nearly 5 percentage points, while Mr. Corbett settles for a bump of 2 percentage points.

The results of the RMU poll are in line with nearly every other poll we've seen since the primarieswith the possible exception of one poll commissioned by Mr. Corbett's team – so the one real chance for surprise here is to see whether Mike Barley, Mr. Corbett's campaign manager, will react to the RMU poll as he did with the numbers released last week by Franklin and Marshall College's Terry Madonna.

Mike Barley attacks F&M polls results

That poll, which showed Mr. Wolf with a 25-point lead, drew a curious reaction on Twitter from Mr. Barley, who suggested Mr. Madonna's numbers were influenced by the fact that Mr. Wolf's wife sits on the Franklin and Marshall board of trustees; Mr. Barley also said Mr. Madonna was "unfairly influencing" the race with "bad polls."

What are Mr. Barley's thoughts about the RMU poll? We'll have to wait for that. But there's one portion of the RMU poll that will undoubtedly get Mr. Barley's attention: nearly 29 percent of independent voters questioned in the poll said a connection with President Obama would have a negative on their view of Mr. Wolf.

News flash: the Corbett team already got that memo:

And if Mr. Barley doesn't dismiss this poll as he did the latest F&M survey, it's a good bet we're going to see plenty more like this one all the way up to Election Day.

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Laboring to make an impression

Published by Mike Pound on .

tom corbett speaks in pittsburgh on labor dayTom Corbett speaks in Pittsburgh on Labor Day. (Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette)

One candidate got to spend a couple hours walking through Downtown on a sticky morning. The other spoke at a picnic.

And we're calling Tom Corbett the loser here?

Both of The Battling Toms – Republican Gov. Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf – made Labor Day appearances in Pittsburgh, Mr. Wolf in the city's annual Labor Day parade and Mr. Corbett everywhere but.

Mr. Corbett, of course, was uninvited from the parade last week; he had been invited by representatives of several building trade unions, who were then overruled by Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council. That left Mr. Corbett having to make do with appearances at two picnic and rally organized by more supportive unions.

It's hard to say whether the slight is an indicator of problems with organized labor for the incumbent. Mr. Corbett didn't win the support of the state Fraternal Order of Police, a curious thing given the governor's former occupation as the state attorney general; he has won the backing of the previously mentioned trades unions, which will benefit from the transportation package Mr. Corbett pushed through Harrisburg and his support of the natural gas industry.

And, it could be argued, that the slight of Mr. Corbett turned the city's Labor Day parade -- a fairly benign event – into something that garnered Mr. Corbett a fair amount of extra attention.

Tom Wolf marches in Pittsburgh's annual Labor Day parade. (Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette)Tom Wolf marches in Pittsburgh's annual Labor Day parade. (Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette)

That and he didn't have to work up a sweat walking down the Boulevard of the Allies.

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New poll: Wolf edges ahead

Published by Mike Pound on .

Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf in Pittsburgh Aug. 8, 2014.Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf in Pittsburgh Aug. 8, 2014. (John Heller/Post-Gazette)

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.

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