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RMU Poll Shows High Unfavorable Rating for Gov. Corbett

A new poll by Robert Morris University (RMU) shows November's gubernatorial election might be an historic event.  According to the survey, Gov. Tom Corbett faces an uphill reelection challenge in a race that’s historically dominated by the incumbent. Of those questioned, 29.4 percent of likely voters currently hold a favorable impression of the Republican governor.

40.3 percent of likely voters said they plan to vote for the Democrat candidate in the upcoming election (7 candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination), while 20.7 percent plan to vote for Corbett. 12.3 percent of those questioned said they would vote for another candidate, and 27 percent said they are undecided.

The poll of 501 registered voters was conducted by Robert Morris University in conjunction with the Center for Research and Public Policy. This is the first political poll conducted by RMU’s Polling Institute.

RMU Associate Professor of Political Science Philip Harold says Corbett’s poor ratings might be an early sign for this to be a historic election.

“An incumbent governor has not lost in Pennsylvania since 1854 (William Bigler), and then in modern times since 1950 the governorship has alternated every eight years between Republicans and Democrats,” said Harold. From 1874 to 1972, incumbent governors could not seek consecutive terms under the state constitution.

The poll included an open-ended question that asked why individuals felt more or less favorable of Corbett. According to Harold, this section yielded some of the most interesting results.

Among those who ranked Corbett unfavorably, education funding was the most important issue.

“Seventeen percent of those who responded negatively mentioned it, so it’s the overwhelming source of disfavorability with the governor,” said Harold.

According to Harold, the second most important issue was natural gas drilling. The governor has opposed a tax on the removal of gas, but enacted an impact fee on wells drilled.

The poll also showed that even those who support Corbett are not passionate about the governor or his accomplishments.

“Even those voters, those Republican voters, who gave the governor a favorability rating were not enthusiastic in their follow up comments, but rather are saying ‘that he’s doing the best he can under the circumstances, that he’s trying to hold the line on spending, that he’s better than the alternative,’” said Harold.

Only 18.6 percent of poll participants expect Corbett to be re-elected in November regardless of their own voting plans.

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.