Poll finds Corbett still behind, but gaining ground on Wolf


By Andrew Staub | PA Independent

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is closing the gap on Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

While previous polls had Wolf leading the embattled Republican incumbent by 20 points or more, a poll conducted by Magellan Strategies BR for The Keystone Report found Corbett trailing by 12 points — with Wolf holding a 50-38 advantage.

Magellan surveyed 1,214 likely voters from July 30-31, and the poll includes a margin of error of 2.83 percent. Its findings come after about a week after a poll conducted for CBS and the New York Times showed Wolf with a 52-39 edge over Corbett when considering voters leaning toward a candidate.

SURVEY SAYS: A new poll found that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is gaining ground on Democratic nominee Tom Wolf, but the incumbent still has a lot of catching up to do.

While Corbett still has considerable ground to make up, the race looked much bleaker for him at the beginning of July, when a Franklin & Marshall College poll gave Wolf a 47-25 advantage.

John Diez, principal of Magellan Strategies BR, said he found it hard to believe that, in a competitive race, Wolf had a 20-point lead so early. Perhaps voters, without knowing much about Wolf, a former state revenue secretary, looked at him as “the lesser of two evils,” Diez said.

“I think his lead was over-inflated,” Diez said, also pointing to the large number of undecided voters in past polls. “I think a lot of the polling that showed him up 20 points was as a time when he was having a honeymoon. He wasn’t been attacked. Nobody knew much about him.”

The poll also shows that Wolf’s favorable to unfavorable rating is continuing to even out, with more voters forming an opinion of the York County businessman. According to the poll, 45 percent of voters view him favorably, 32 percent viewed him unfavorably and 22 percent had no opinion.

Oddly enough, the poll’s release coincidences with a particular rocky stretch of the campaign for Corbett. He’s taken fire from Wolf for employing an adviser who makes $140,000 a year but has left next to no paper trail to indicate what work is being done.

And on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Corbett has been meeting with campaign advisers in the governor’s office.

The Campaign for a Fresh Start, a political action committee for Wolf, jumped on the story immediately, pointing out it’s a bad look for the former attorney general who ascended to the state’s highest office after prosecuting lawmakers and staff for mixing politics and public resources.

Corbett’s campaign isn’t holding back, either. He has pounded Wolf in television ads that accuse the Democratic challenger of failing to be transparent, and the state GOP reiterated that allegation Tuesday, saying “the more Tom Wolf freefalls in the polls, the more desperate he becomes.”

Despite that political rhetoric, polls still suggest the race is Wolf’s to lose, and the findings weren’t all good for Corbett, either.

The Magellan survey found that Corbett has yet to solidify his base. Sixty-four percent of Republicans polled backed Corbett, compared to 80 percent of Democratic voters supporting Wolf.

The poll also found the natural gas boom hasn’t been a “winning issue” for Corbett, and more than 53 percent of likely voters believe Corbett cut education funding — an issue that has long dogged the governor.

Staub can be reached at Andrew@PAIndependent.com. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.