Saturday, December 20, 2014

Behind the New Corbett Poll

Interesting data lurks behind the numbers in a new F&M College poll on Corbett and top state issues.

Behind the New Corbett Poll

 Gov. Tom Corbett speaks during a news conference Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, in Philadelphia. Corbett on Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to end the state monopoly over the sale of liquor and wine by replacing hundreds of state-owned stores with twice as many private outlets and allowing beer and wine to be sold at a wide range of stores. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Gov. Tom Corbett speaks during a news conference Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, in Philadelphia. Corbett on Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to end the state monopoly over the sale of liquor and wine by replacing hundreds of state-owned stores with twice as many private outlets and allowing beer and wine to be sold at a wide range of stores. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

As my colleague Chris Brennan reports Thursday, a new Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College poll offers yet another bad day for Gov. Corbett.

You can read the full poll results here.

While I always caution that (a) polls are but snapshots of a moment and (b), in this case, there's more than a year before voters really re-focus on Corbett's reelection bid, there are some interesting items in the new poll.

For starters, Corbett's 26-percent approval rating -- the lowest of any incumbent of either party since this poll began 18 years ago -- is below that of Gov. Ridge and Gov. Rendell at this stage in their tenures.

Two years in, Ridge's approval rating was about 50 percent, Rendell's about 40 percent.

The new data also tells us something about how registered voters feel about some key and pressing state issues.

For example: only 18 percent of voters like Corbett's idea of privatizing management of the lottery AND, a stunner for me, a majority (52 percent) say they'd play the lottery less often if it's managed privately.

Also, while a majority (53 percent) support selling off the state stores, a far greater majority (82 percent) think the state should spend more on mass transit and fixing roads and bridges.

Corbett's plan calls for giving the money from selling state stores to education.

To the extent that polls drive politics -- which is to say a great deal -- such findings could well influence legislative action and prioritizing on both liquor and transportation.

Polling on gun control has been relatively consistent in Pennsylvania for more than a decade with roughly 60 percent favoring some new controls. But this issue has historically been a non-starter in our Legislature and is almost certain to remain so.

If there's an overall message in this poll it might be something along the lines of, listen, we don't like the Guv at the moment and for that to change he'd better forget about the lottery deal then sell the state stores to fix transportation.

But, hey, that's just where we are today.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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