York businessman Tom Wolf, the electoral neophyte with millions spent on television promoting himself as a “different kind of politician,” holds a significant lead going into the final days of the Democratic race for governor, according to a new poll from Franklin & Marshall College.
Wolf’s lead among registered Democrats has narrowed a smidge since the college’s last poll in March, but he is still in a comfortable position over his three rivals: 33 percent of the registered Democrats support him, to 14 percent backing U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz; 9 percent for state Treasurer Rob McCord; and 5 percent for Katie McGinty, former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Thirty-nine percent remain undecided, the poll found, providing a glimmer of a hope for the race to tighten - although voters unsure whom they favor at this late point in a campaign often do not go to the polls.
Slightly over half of Wolf voters (54 percent) and Schwartz voters (52 percent) say they will not change their minds.
Negative campaign commercials launched by Schwartz and McCord appear to have had little effect, according to the poll. The percentage of voters viewing McCord negatively jumped from 2 percent in March’s survey to 14 percent in the wake of his accusations that Wolf showed a lack of leadership and racial sensitivity in standing by a former mayor of York in 2001, when the mayor was arrested as an accomplice to murder of a black woman in the city’s 1969 race riots.
F & M, which interviewed Democrats in the active voter files, also sketched a couple of different turnout scenarios for next Tuesday.
Among Democrats who have voted in the past five primary elections, Wolf led 43 percent, to 16 percent to 16 percent for Schwartz, 14 percent for McCord and 8 percent for McGinty. Fifteen percent were undecided.
Schwartz closed among respondents who reported that they are certain to vote, her share rising to 26 percent as against Wolf’s 43 percent. McCord had 14 percent among this group, and McGinty had three percent. Eleven percent said they were undecided.
The poll was based on telephone interviews with 530 registered Democrats in the state, conducted May 6 through May 12. Survey results, weighted by Pennsylvania demographics, are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
Estimated margin errors for smaller subsamples are higher – up to 8 percentage points for the voters who have a history of turning out for primaries, 6.7 percentage points for those who self-reported they were certain to vote Tuesday.