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Politics & Government

Corbett Approval Could Hinge on Medicaid

A new statewide poll shows there could be light at the end of a tunnel lined with low job performance ratings for Gov. Corbett.

The Franklin & Marshall College survey indicates Corbett's vision for health care may win over some sorely needed voters in advance of next year's gubernatorial election.

64 percent of respondents support expanding the state's Medicaid program to hundreds of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians using federal money.

Corbett hasn't proposed to do that. Instead, the governor's own plan is to extend health insurance to low-income Pennsylvanians through federally subsidized private insurance plans. But his plan has the support of 72 percent of voters surveyed.

"That's a winner with the voters for Tom Corbett," said poll director Terry Madonna. "Translation: take that message to the voters."

The governor announced the plan in late September. It includes changes to the state's Medicaid program, like work search requirements for recipients. The federal government still has to weigh in, but a similar proposal from the state of Arkansas received federal approval last month.

And as Democratic gubernatorial candidates ramp up for a primary election, Madonna said the governor would do well to focus his energies on winning back Republican voters. The poll's respondents were split nearly evenly as to whether Corbett should even run for re-election. 44 percent said he should step aside, while 42 percent said he should run for a second term.

"Among his own party faithful - that's the big challenge the governor faces at the moment," Madonna said. The finding, he added, suggests the governor shouldn't spend these months before the gubernatorial primary election to campaign against any of the Democrats in the race.

"It's not a question of running against an unnamed Democrat," Madonna said. "There are eight declared Democratic candidates. There's no certainty about who his opponent would be."

An unprecedented percentage of voters surveyed ranked education as the state's top priority, Madonna also noted.

The poll surveyed 628 registered Pennsylvania voters during the fourth week of October. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.