HARRISBURG Pa. (Reuters) - A poll released on Thursday contained more bad news for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, showing he trails his Democratic challenger by an even wider margin than at the start of the summer.
The poll by Franklin & Marshall College found that 24 percent of registered voters favored keeping the Republican governor, down from 25 percent in June. Support for Democrat Tom Wolf, a businessman, rose to 49 percent from 47 percent two months ago, according to the telephone poll.
“Re-election campaigns are 90 percent about the incumbent,” said poll director G. Terry Madonna. “Corbett has to find a way to change the dynamic, to get voters to give him a second look.”
He said voters seemed unmoved by negative ads Corbett ran during the summer painting Wolf as a millionaire who used controversial tax avoidance techniques for his business while planning to raise taxes on the middle class.
Wolf’s own negative ads have hammered Corbett for refusing to tax natural gas drillers while cutting aid to public schools, issues that the poll found resonated with voters more than personal taxes or the economy.
The poll showed Wolf leading in all regions of the state, with high numbers of undecided voters. He leads Corbett even among the traditional Republican base voter groups of conservative Christians and gun owners.
Billy Pitman, a Corbett campaign spokesman, said in a statement the poll “skews outright to Democrats. Regardless, the only poll that will matter is on Election Day.”
Representatives from the Wolf campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The poll of 520 voters registered in Pennsylvania was conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College on Aug. 18-25. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Doina Chiacu