Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

That new Corbett poll

A new poll on Gov. Corbett raises questions.

That new Corbett poll

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: I assume, oh wise one, you saw that new poll on Gov. Corbett?

BE: The one showing his statewide approval rating at a dismal 34 percent, making him among the least popular governors in these United States?

JB: Yessir.

BE: I'm betting you have something to say about it.

JB: Key-rect. First, I've never liked the source, Public Policy Polling. It leans Democratic. It's top clients are unions such as AFSCME and the National Education Association, liberal groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood and a bunch of Democratic congressmen.

BE: Still, numbers is numbers, no?

JB: Not always. The poll samples "voters," not likely voters, maybe not even registered voters. It takes a small sample, in this case fewer than 600. And if you read the fine print, it waffles on its margin of error (in this case, plus or minus 4%) saying "other factors" might "introduce additional error."

BE: Hmmm. Additional error can't be good.

JB: Again, you are right. How do you do it?

BE: But news about any poll creates an image that could well impact future polls.

JB: And that's Corbett's real problem here. The good news is, he has the means to do something about it.

BE: He can unmask Public Policy Polling as a lackey stooge of the far left?

JB: No. He can start acting like a leader who cares about the folks who elected him to lead.

BE: But he's a former prosecutor not given to public pronouncements unless he was charging someone with a crime or saying "the investigation is ongoing."

JB: Now he's a governor. He can use his pulpit. He can ask his press office to actually answer press inquiries. He can push the fact that, unlike some of his GOP colleagues, he's not out to bust unions. He can make himself available in other than small media markets where he visits small businesses. He can press the point that his budget cuts are his responsibility, not his choice.

BE: But isn't he and his crew swamped by the job of actually governing, of trying to cobble togther a budget that the dysfunctional legislature will pass?

JB: Indeed. But the best way to do that is from a position of public support. Every new Guv has a rocky period. It's time for this one to smooth out his approach and settle into the fact that perception in politics can be as important or more important than performance. And that perception can help or hinder performance.

BE: I perceive that you perceive that unless there's a change there could be trouble ahead for Tom.

JB: And from more than just suspect polls. Grrrr.

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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