Poll says Rendell would lead Corbett in a comeback bid

Gov. Tom Corbett would trail Ed Rendell in a hypothetical 2014 match up, Public Policy Polling survey finds.

Pennsylvania voters take such a dim view of Gov. Corbett’s job performance that they would prefer his predecessor, Democrat Ed Rendell, by 46 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical 2014 matchup, according to a Monday opinion survey from Public Policy Polling.

Corbett, a Republican, would be tied with Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane at 42 percent, the poll found. She is a former county assistant prosecutor from Scranton.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Rendell told Inquirer colleague Amy Worden.

Rendell, who was governor from 2003 to 2011, was pretty unpopular himself as he prepared to leave office. Twenty-eight percent of voters approved of Rendell’s job performance in an Oct. 2010 Franklin & Marshall College poll.

“We have nostalgia moments in Pennyslvania politics, it's not unusual,” said political guru and F&M pollster G. Terry Madonna. “But take a look at his poll numbers, they were worse than Corbett's.”

For what it's worth, the Pennsylvania Constitution limits governors to two terms. Rendell's staff, which has researched the question, say that records of the state constitutional convention make it clear that is a lifetime ban. Rendell has shown no interest in running again.

PPP found that 38 percent of voters are happy with the job Corbett is doing, compared to 52 percent who disapprove.

(updated) It should be noted that PPP is a Democratic-leaning polling company. Other, nonpartisan polls also have found relatively low job approval ratings for Corbett.

The governor leads a variety of other potential Democratic challengers by modest margins.

Corbett would lead 41/38 percent over Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; 41/37 percent over former DEP Secretary John Hanger; 42/36 percent over former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, the party’s 2010 Senate nominee; 41/35 percent over state Treasurer Rob McCord; 41/34 percent over U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz; and 41/29 percent over businessman Tom Wolf.

“The undecideds in all of these races lean strongly Democratic - they're generally voters who disapprove of Corbett but aren't familiar yet with the potential alternatives,” pollster Tom Jensen said. Corbett “continues to be one of the most vulnerable governors in the country headed into 2014,” Jensen said.

The poll is based on automated responses from 675 Pennsylvania registered voters contacted between Jan. 4 and Jan. 6. Results are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.