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.