Corbett ‘Most Endangered Governor’ in Country

The public does not like Governor Tom Corbett, and his re-election chances are looking worse every day. Now, a new poll shows that he may be the most endangered governor in the country come the 2014 elections. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted from March 8-10 not only found the governor in worse shape than he’s ever been — but voters are apparently eager a change of leadership.

Just 33 percent of Pennsylvania voters approve of the governor while 58 percent disapprove—an 11 point slide from just a month ago, according to PPP, a left-leaning firm based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. The findings show it’s not just a “the economy sucks” thing, either; Pennsylvanians disapprove of both his handling of the Penn State situation and his attempt to privatize the state lottery, which has been blocked by Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

It gets worse.

As potential Democratic candidates look toward a run at the governor’s mansion, the pollster shows every single challenger leading Corbett. U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, former Rep. Joe Sestak and state Treasurer Rob McCord all lead Corbett by 11 points—45 percent to 34 percent. Even businessman Tom Wolf and former Environmental Protection head John Hanger lead Corbett.

“What’s particularly noteworthy about the substantial leads all of the Democrats have is that they come despite them all being relatively unknown,” writes pollster Tom Jensen on PPP’s blog. “Obviously we’re still a long way off from 2014, but for now Corbett looks like the most endangered Governor in the country up for reelection next year.”

As noted, PPP has a reputation for leaning left (they often conduct polls on behalf of liberal blog Daily Kos), but their Pennsylvania polling has not been an outlier. A Franklin and Marshall poll released last month showed only 26 percent of voters believed Corbett had been doing an “excellent” or “good” job as the state’s chief executive. It, too, noted commonwealth citizens fed up the governor’s penchant for selling the state lottery to a British firm.

PPP sampled 504 voters “including an oversample of 373 usual Republican primary voters.” They did this because the poll also looked at a potential Republican primary battle Corbett could find himself involved in if the numbers continue to slip. And 49 percent of Republicans polled said they’d prefer “someone else”—though not Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor, the only Republican who’s so far suggested he could challenge Corbett from the right.

Corbett leads Castor by 20 points in a potential match-up. Still, though, gubernatorial candidate John Hanger isn’t sure the Democratic nominee will face Corbett come November 2014.

“I wish the election was yesterday,” Hanger tells PW. “It’s a long way to go and Democrats should focus carefully on who will be the best governor—and if we pick the best governor, we’ll also pick the candidate who is most electable. This race is very winnable and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Democratic nominee faces someone other than Tom Corbett.”

Hanger additionally notes that Corbett has “trashed [Former Pennsylvania] Governor Thornburgh’s code of conduct that every other governor has followed since 1980,” referring to the recent Philadelphia Daily News report that Corbett accepted gifts from Pennsylvania business interests and lobbyists.

Of the potential Democratic challengers, only Hanger has been overt about his wanting to challenge Corbett—and retweeted PPP’s favorable findings on Tuesday.

Schwartz’s communications people have noted she is “seriously” considering running for governor, and at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit two weeks back, she took first place in a straw poll of liberal Pennsylvanians, over Sestak, McCord and others.

Locally, the numbers were met with some optimism from community organizing groups who’ve been fighting back against Corbett’s privatization efforts since his being sworn into office.

“I’m overwhelming happy about [the poll],” notes Peppi Davidson, a volunteer at community organizing group Fight for Philly. “When you’re an elected politician, you’re supposed to be for your citizens but Corbett is definitely a corporate man.”

Davidson, 52, of Overbook, got involved with Fight for Philly a year-and-a-half-ago, she says, partially because of Corbett’s dealings in the state. “The people that I’ve spoken to, not just as a volunteer with Fight for Philly, but just talking to people on the bus, everybody is angry with him,” she continues. “He’s gone too far and effected too many people’s lives.”

This blog has been updated. It appeared in the 3/13 edition of Philadelphia Weekly as Guv’s Numbers Suck.

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