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PA Residents Think Corbett Headed to Defeat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Most Pennsylvania Residents Think Corbett Headed to Defeat, Says RMU Poll

  •  Governor Tom Corbett’s Favorability Stuck at 30% -- Most Still Expect the Governor to Lose Election
  •  Among PA Democrats, Clinton Steady and Biden Loses Support; Jeb Bush Gains Ground Among PA Republicans
  •  Same Sex Marriage in PA – Support at 49.5%, Opposition at 40.7%
  •  On Fracing in PA:  58.2% Support Extraction or Severance Tax

PITTSBURGH – As Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett prepares for a re-election campaign against Democrat Tom Wolf, barely 30% of likely voters have a favorable opinion of the governor, according to the most recent poll by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media.

The Republican governor’s favorability rating in the RMU poll, conducted May 6-13, was 30.8%, virtually unchanged since the university’s previous poll, in February, when 29.4% of respondents said they had a favorable impression of Corbett.

“Likely voters in Pennsylvania continue to have a poor impression of Gov. Corbett. This is true across the demographic categories of gender, age, and martial status,” said RMU political scientist Philip Harold, the associate dean of the School of Education and Social Sciences.

More bad news for the governor: In 2010, he won senior citizens by a margin of 63% to 37%. But in the RMU poll, senior citizens now have an unfavorable impression of Corbett by a margin of 57-37. Corbett has lost ground since February, when 48% of seniors responded that they have an unfavorable impression of Corbett

“The RMU poll is innovative in that it asked voters why they have the impression they do of the governor, allowing them to speak in their own voice. This showed that the overwhelming issue on the minds of Pennsylvania voters is education,” said Harold. “Twenty-nine percent of respondents with a negative impression of the governor mentioned it. Natural gas taxation was another issue with traction -- 13% of all respondents mentioned it, up from 7% in February.”

Regarding natural gas, respondents were largely split along party lines in their view on hydraulic fracturing, or fracing: Republican likely voters support it 66-18 and Democratic likely voters oppose it 44-37. Overall, among those respondents who said they are familiar with the practice, 59.2% support it, suggesting that support for the practice grows as people become more knowledgeable about it, according to Harold.

Among all respondents, 58.2% support an extraction or severance gas -- a tax paid to the government for removal of natural gas from the ground.

The RMU Polling Institute asked Pennsylvania voters to weigh in on the 2016 presidential election, with support for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush growing from 20.9% in February to 33.3% in May among likely Republican voters. Support among Democrats for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton edged up to 66.5% from 65.7% in February. Vice President Joe Biden slipped nearly five percentage points, from 26% to 21.2%.

“The big story for national politics is the change in presidential candidate preferences for Pennsylvania Republican likely voters. Jeb Bush saw the biggest gains, while Rand Paul was the only major candidate to lose support,” said Harold. 

Harold attributes Paul’s decline to concerted attacks on the libertarian Kentucky senator by the Republican establishment in recent weeks. In February, at the time of RMU’s previous poll, Paul was coming off some good months when he was emerging as a possible GOP frontrunner.

“Bush and Paul switched spots -- Bush was the fourth preference of likely Pennsylvania Republican voters in February, and he jumped to first, Paul was in first and now has fallen to fourth,” said Harold.

A plurality of respondents, 49.5%, said they strongly or somewhat support legislation allowing same-sex marriage, and the poll wrapped up a week before a federal judge invalidated Pennsylvania’s law against same-sex marriage. Another 40.7% said they strongly or somewhat oppose same-sex marriage.

ABOUT THE POLL: The Poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media. Polling by the Institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events.

METHODOLOGY: The Poll sampled opinions of 506 Pennsylvania residents statewide. The survey was conducted May 6-13, 2014. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 4.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis. 

ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Through 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs across five academic schools, Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh, Pa., works to change its students' lives so that they can go out and change the lives of others for the better. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate, nontraditional and online students from 37 states and 37 nations are enrolled at RMU, which sits on 230 scenic acres just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. Emphasizing experiential learning, Robert Morris focuses on professional development, service learning, global awareness, undergraduate research, campus leadership, and cultural experiences, all of which are documented on our innovative Student Engagement Transcript. More than 100 clubs and organizations help students to develop leadership skills, network professionally, and meet friends. RMU also has 16 NCAA Division I athletic programs, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men's and women's lacrosse.

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