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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- Pennsylvania

2010: Why Pennsylvania Is The Most Competitive State

A year ago many considered Pat Toomey too conservative to be a viable contender for the Senate in Pennsylvania, one of the most culturally and geographically diverse states in the country. But with a changing national political climate that is mirrored in the Keystone State, Toomey's chances of knocking off the state's incumbent senator look increasingly more likely.

A Franklin and Marshall College Poll released last week found Toomey leading Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter by 4 points. After five terms as senator, 34 years since his first bid for statewide office, last year's switch from the Republican to Democratic Party and a primary challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), Specter's Senate seat is up for grabs.

In the state that President Obama carried by a 10-point margin, Toomey's lead in the polls is just one piece of evidence that Pennsylvania is likely the most competitive state in the country:

Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell is term-limited and -- seven weeks before the May 18 primary -- the race to replace him is a toss-up; nine of the 19 congressional districts could be competitive; two of the only GOP districts nationwide that Democrats hope to pick up are in Pennsylvania; and the special election to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) will likely take on national significance as a key indicator for the November elections.

"Pennsylvania has a history of swinging back and forth from Republican to Democrat, Democrat to Republican in statewide races," said Robb Austin, a Pennsylvania political consultant and former state representative.

Continue reading "2010: Why Pennsylvania Is The Most Competitive State" »

PA Sen Poll: 30% Support For Specter

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter (D) is now polling at 30% against former congressman Pat Toomey (R) in a general election matchup and against Rep. Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary, according to a new Franklin & Marshall survey (Jan. 18-24, 993 RV, MoE +/- 3.1%). While Toomey and Sestak remain largely unknown to the statewide electorate, Specter, running for his sixth term, has just a 35% favorable rating, and 34% think he's doing a good job as senator.

Democratic Primary
Specter 30
Sestak 13
Und 50

Specter leads Sestak by 20.3 points in the RCP Average

General Election
Toomey is tied with Specter among registered voters but jumps out to a significant lead among those considered likely to vote in November:
Registered Voters
Toomey 30
Specter 30
Und 35

Likely Voters
Toomey 45
Specter 31
Undecided

Toomey leads by 7.7 points in the RCP Average

We see the same dynamic in a Toomey vs. Sestak match up:
Registered Voters
Toomey 28
Sestak 16
Und 51

Likely Voters
Toomey 41
Sestak 19
Und 37

Toomey leads Sestak by 11.7 points in the RCP Average

Meanwhile, the governor's race is still up in the air, as seven-in-10 Democrats and Republicans don't know yet who they will vote for in the May 18 primary. However, with Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) now out of the race, Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) is expected to win the GOP primary.

Democrats
Dan Onorato 10
Jack Wagner 4
Chris Doherty 4
Joe Hoeffel 4
Tom Knox 2
Other 4
Undecided 72

Republicans
Tom Corbett 23
Sam Rohrer 5
Other 3
Undecided 69

Gerlach Decision Pleases GOP

Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) made life a little easier for the GOP in the last day, when he reversed course to run for re-election after ending his gubernatorial bid. Gerlach first announced he was leaving the governor's race yesterday, but waited until today to announce his re-election plans.

An "overwhelming response" from constituents, he said in a statement, "reinforced the decision I have made ... to seek another term representing the great people of the 6th Congressional District."

"I truly believe that I represent the best chance for Republicans to not only hold this seat, but play a major role in regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives," he said.

While primary challengers await him in his district, the move clears the gubernatorial primary field for Attorney General Tom Corbett, already the favorite to win. It also knocks down the number of Republican retirements in the House, which Democrats have used as an argument defending their own growing number of open seats.

"Jim Gerlach's decision to forgo his gubernatorial bid and stand for reelection in the House is one that I wholeheartedly support and welcome," said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions. "Democrats in Washington are undoubtedly disappointed by this news."

PA Gov Poll: Corbett The Early Frontrunner

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) looks to be a strong favorite in the race to succeed Ed Rendell (D) as Pennsylvania's governor. A new Rasmussen poll (500 LVs, 12/10, MoE +/- 4.5%) shows Corbett's status as a prominent statewide officeholder helps him in the race against lesser-known Democratic foes.

General Election Matchup
Corbett 43 -- Wagner 30 -- Und 20
Corbett 48 -- Hoeffel 26 -- Und 17
Corbett 44 -- Onorato 28 -- Und 21
Corbett 46 -- Doherty 23 -- Und 22

Corbett does have a primary challenger in U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R). A Rasmussen survey last month showed him comfortably ahead at that point, however.

Wagner is the state Auditor General, a lower-profile post but one that does give him a slight edge in name recognition on the Democratic side.

Favorable Ratings
Corbett 59 / 18
Wagner 37 / 30
Onorato 30 / 32
Hoeffel 26 / 35
Doherty 30 / 28

PA Sen Poll: Specter's Numbers Continue Downward Trend

It has not been a good year for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), whose numbers take a real hit in the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll (529 RVs, 10/20-25, +/- 4.3 percent).

His favorable rating is just 28 percent, down from 48 percent in March, while his unfavorable rating is now up to 46 percent, nearly double the March rating. Only 23 percent say he should be re-elected, while 66 percent say it's time for a change. Specter's job approval rating is just 29 percent, while 64 percent disapprove. Meanwhile, he continues to slip in both primary and general election matchups.

Primary Election Matchup
Specter 37 (-7 vs. last poll, 8/25-31)
Sestak 18 (+7)
Und 47 (+1)

General Election Matchups
Specter 33 (-4)
Toomey 31 (+2)
Und 30 (+5)

Toomey 28 (+2)
Sestak 20 (-2)
Und 48 (+2)

President Obama's job approval rating has also slipped, from 47 percent in August to 40 percent now; 59 percent disapprove.

Democrats have a 4-point advantage in the generic Congressional ballot, 37-34 percent. After the jump, check out matchups for the gubernatorial race.

Continue reading "PA Sen Poll: Specter's Numbers Continue Downward Trend" »

PA Gov Poll: Corbett Leads All

Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) is the most well known of the candidates looking to replace the term-limited Gov. Ed Rendell (D), and therefore leads his potential opponents by wide margins, a new Quinnipiac survey finds (Sept. 21-28, 1100 RV, MoE +/- 3%).

Corbett leads Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), who represents a district northwest of Philadelphia, by a 42%-13% margin among Republicans, with 43% undecided.

Among the Democrats, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato leads with 14%, followed by Montgomery Co. Commissioner Joe Hoeffel (the 2004 Senate nominee) at 12%, State Auditor General Jack Wagner at 11%, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty at 8% and businessman Tom Knox at 5%. Forty-six percent remain undecided.

"The Democratic race for Governor is wide open," said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown. "The candidates just aren't that visible to most voters and that race is still far, far away from even having a front-runner. The Republicans are another story. Corbett has a large lead and although it is certainly not insurmountable, Congressman Gerlach certainly has his work cut out for him."

General Election Matchups
Corbett 47 - Onorato 28 - Und 24

Corbett 44 - Wagner 29 - Und 25

Open Race For Pennsylvania Governor

A new Quinnipiac poll finds now early favorites in the open-seat race for Pennsylvania governor, with most candidates unknown to state voters. On the Democratic side, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and state Auditor Dan Wagner have a slight lead over Philadelphia businessman Tom Knox.

Democratic Primary Election Matchup
Onorato 16
Wagner 16
Knox 13
Don't Know 54

State Attorney General Tom Corbett does have a double-digit lead over Rep. Jim Gerlach, who is vacating a competitive Philadelphia-based Congressional seat.

Republican Primary Election Matchup
Corbett 38
Gerlach 15
Meehan 9
Don't Know 37

In a generic matchup, 38 percent of voters said they'd pick the Republican candidate, while 37 percent would pick the Democrat. Independent voters backed the Republican by a 32-23 percent margin.

Favorability Ratings
Gerlach 16 / 6
Onorato 16 / 6
Wagner 18 / 4
Knox 10 / 4
Corbett 38 / 6
Meehan 12 / 3

Outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell (D) has seen his approval rating sink to its lowest level, with 39 percent approving and 53 percent disapproving. His approval dropped from 54 points just two months ago. Fifty-seven percent of voters say they are dissatisfied with the direction of the state.

The survey of 1,173 voters was conducted from July 14 - 19, and had a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent. The GOP subsample of 511 voters had a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent, as did the Dem subsample of 512 voters.

PA Gov: Democratic Field Wide Open

It's the other election in Pennsylvania next year -- an open-seat contest for governor. There are no clear favorites for either party, and PA2010.com has results of an internal poll from Philadelphia businessman Tom Knox (D) showing that the Democratic race to succeed Gov. Ed Rendell (D) is wide open.

Primary Election Matchup
Onorato 14
Knox 14
Wagner 13
Cunningham 7
Undecided 52

In that field, state Auditor Jack Wagner is the only statewide-elected official. Dan Onorato, the Allegheny County Executive, has a strong base of support in Western Pennsylvania. Don Cunningham is the current Lehigh County Executive.

In a head to head matchup, Onorato leads Knox 22-21 percent, with 57 percent undecided. The poll was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, surveying 800 registered Democrats. It had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

Knox, a former executive at UnitedHealthcare and a deputy mayor under Ed Rendell, poured millions into a campaign for Philadelphia mayor in 2007 but saw his lead evaporate as the Democratic primary closed and then-City Councilor Michael Nutter gained momentum. He's reportedly prepared to spend up to $20 million on a gubernatorial bid.

Santorum Eyes Gov Mansion

After getting thumped by Sen. Bob Casey last year, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is looking at a comeback. True, Politics Nation spotted Santorum in Washington last week, but he's not looking at replacing Sen. Arlen Specter: He's actually thinking about a race to replace Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in 2010, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Rendell, who won re-election by a wide margin last year, is term-limited. Santorum would likely begin a statewide race at the head of the GOP pack.