February 16, 2011

Poll: PA Voters Waiting To Decide On New Governor

Although the largest share of Pennsylvania registered voters, 50 percent, don't yet have an opinion of Gov. Tom Corbett's job performance, the new governor gets a 39 - 11 percent approval rating from those who do have an opinion, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
But by a 53 - 33 percent margin, voters don't believe Gov. Corbett can keep his promise to balance the budget without raising taxes, similar to a 55 - 31 percent finding in a December survey by the independent Quinnipiac University.
Voters agree overwhelmingly, 69 - 26 percent, with former Gov. Ed Rendell that the Commonwealth is better off that gambling addicts spend their money in Pennsylvania rather than elsewhere. By a narrow 51 - 46 percent margin, voters support increasing legalized gambling in the state to help meet the budget deficit.
"Gov. Corbett is off to a good start. Although half the electorate doesn't have an opinion of him, among those who have an opinion more than three times as many approve of what he has done so far than who disapprove," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "His challenge will be to keep that ratio of support as he gets more detailed about how he'll deal with the state government's shortfall when he releases his budget next month."
Not surprisingly, Corbett's strongest support is among Republicans who approve of his performance 57 - 4 percent, while independent voters approve 40 - 13 percent. Although 57 percent of Democrats don't have an opinion about him, he has a 27 - 16 percent approval rating among those who do. Corbett has a small gender gap as men approve 41 - 11 percent while women approve 37 - 12 percent.
Corbett does not need to convince voters that the state's budget problems are real: 61 percent say the state's budget woes are "very serious," while 34 percent say "somewhat serious," an unusually large percentage.
"You probably can't get 95 percent of people to agree that motherhood and apple pie are good things," said Brown.
But when it gets to potential solutions, voters are much less supportive. The one idea they strongly favor is selling state liquor stores, an idea they support 65 - 26 percent. But they oppose or are divided on other budget-cutting ideas under discussion in Harrisburg:
-- Voters oppose 51 - 36 percent selling or leasing the Pennsylvania turnpike to raise cash;
-- They oppose raising taxes 63 - 33 percent;
-- They support 52 - 40 percent laying off state workers.
"Pennsylvania voters may agree on the severity of the problem, but there is nowhere near that kind of agreement about the solutions," said Brown. "They like the idea of selling the liquor stores the most and raising taxes the least."
The narrow 51 - 46 percent voter support for increasing legalized gambling as a way to reduce the red ink reflects a strong majority, 64 - 29 percent, who call gambling a "good thing."
"While voters say 54 - 39 percent that legalized slot machine gambling in Pennsylvania is creating new gamblers, they agree with Gov. Ed Rendell, who defended the expansion of legal gambling on his watch, that gambling addicts might as well lose their money in the Commonwealth," Brown said.
Voters are optimistic, 65 - 23 percent, including 51 - 32 percent among Democrats, of the next four years with the Republican as governor.
A total of 47 percent of Pennsylvania voters are "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with the way things are going in the state, up from a 37 percent "satisfaction" December 15.
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