Democratic challenger Tom Wolf leads Republican Gov. Tom Corbett by 55.5 percent to 24.7 percent among likely voters in Pennsylvania, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute.
RMU political scientist Philip Harold said that even with two months remaining until Election Day, time has just about run out for Corbett, who stands poised to become the first incumbent governor to lose re-election since Pennsylvania first allowed governors to seek two consecutive terms in 1968.
“While a sizable chunk of voters has yet to choose a candidate to support, there are not enough undecided voters to make the difference for Corbett. And among those who did choose a candidate, only 14 percent said they could change their minds easily. Among undecided voters who lean towards a candidate, Wolf is their choice by 2-to-1,” said Harold, the associate dean of the School of Education and Social Sciences at Robert Morris.
The remaining undecided voters are mostly Republican, which demonstrates the lukewarm support Corbett enjoys even among his own party.
“Simply put, there is no enthusiastic base of support for Governor Corbett to rely on come Election Day,” said Harold.
The poll did reveal a potential strategy for Gov. Corbett: Tie Tom Wolf to President Obama. Among likely independent voters, one-third indicated they would be less likely to support Tom Wolf if President Obama campaigned for him.
“In the last gubernatorial election independents were 23 percent of the electorate, according to the exit polls,” Harold said. “There are a lot of voters who would be turned off by a tight connection to the president.”
The RMU Polling Institute once again asked state voters whom they would support for president among both parties in 2016, a question it previously posed in February and May.
In this latest poll, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the clear favorite among Democrats with 70 percent, followed by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts with 22.5 percent, who edged out Vice President Joe Biden, who had 21.4 percent support. Respondents were allowed to pick more than one candidate.
“Beyond the strong support for Hillary Clinton as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, we are seeing in part a test of name recognition. This poll shows that Elizabeth Warren is picking up consistently more support over the last six months, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the past three months. Cuomo has been in the news for ethics problems, which have not yet damaged his re-election hopes, and Warren has been urged to run for president in the aftermath of the difficulties faced by Clinton’s book tour,” said Harold.
Republicans in Pennsylvania are falling out of love with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, while throwing more support behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Support for Paul has dropped from 31 percent in February to 18 percent in this latest poll.
With the George Washington Bridge scandal seemingly behind him, Christie now stands with 37 percent support among Republicans in the RMU poll, topping his next nearest rival, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has 22.5 percent support.
“Paul has received a lot of criticism over that time from establishment GOP figures, such as Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, and certainly faces strident neo-conservative opposition from the likes of Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin. His unconventional opinions for a Republican are becoming more widely discussed on right wing talk radio,” said Harold.
Paul’s drop in support in the past six months among likely Pennsylvania G.O.P. voters is entirely among men, Harold noted.A copy of the detailed poll results is available online.