Monday, May 25, 2015

That new poll on PA Dems

A Harper Polling survey claims the Democratic primary for governor in 2014 is "taking shape." Is it?

That new poll on PA Dems

A new survey by Harper Polling, a firm reportedly associated with Republicans, claims the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for governor in 2014 is "beginning to take shape."

I'm not so sure.

While the poll confirms conventional views that Allyson Schwartz is her party's frontrunner to oppose Gov. Corbett next year, it does so in the absence of any real public campaiging.

It shows, for example, York County biz guy and former Rendell Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf logging in last among six candidates with an anemic 5%. (It did not poll two other announced candidates: minister Max Myers, of Cumberland County, and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.)

If Wolf actually spends the $10 million he says he'll spend on a primary fight, it's hard to imagine he'll be at that level come next spring.

But, for now, Schwartz is first with 22%; Katie McGinty second at 15% (maybe suggesting Dem voters want a woman candidate); Rob McCord's at 12%; John Hanger is at 7% (his campaign issued a statement saying Hanger is "gaining momentum"); Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is at 6%, and the aforementioned Wolf at 5%.

The poll contacted 649 "primary-voting" Democrats. You can read the full results here.

The Republican State Committee was quick to note the Democratic field is losing to "not sure," which polled at 34%.

While this is predictably snarky it makes my point, which is it remains too early to say the race is taking shape when more than a-third of the Democratic electorate isn't sure who it likes.

Still, the poll upholds the Schwartz narrative that she's "strongest" in the fat field. And, look, if everybody stays in this race somebody could win with a percentage of the vote close to where Schwartz is now.

One interesting finding: the poll says McGinty and McCord are virtually tied for the lead (20% & 19%, respectively) in Western Pennsylvania. If this holds it could be important. If no western candidate gets in the race, it's expected eastern and southeastern votes will be divided among the field and whoever does best in the west could win.

The primary isn't until May. But stay tuned, my friends, and expect many polls between now and then.

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

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

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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