Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Center for Opinion Research

Keystone Poll (Feb. 5-March 8, 1998)

Pennsylvania Statewide Poll

 Tom Ridge and Arlen Specter: Well Positioned to Retain Office

The latest Keystone Poll finds Republican incumbents Tom Ridge and Arlen Specter in good shape to retain their respective offices. Their current strong position stems from personal popularity, the lack of well-known competition, optimism regarding the direction of the state, and positive evaluations of their current and expected finances.

A majority of the state's voters have a favorable opinion of both Ridge (59%) and Specter (53%), and few voters know much of anything about their potential challengers. Ivan Itkin, the Democratic party's endorsed candidate for governor, is viewed favorably by only five percent of the state's voters, but nearly nine in ten (87%) do not recognize his name. Bill Lloyd, the party's endorsed choice for the U.S. Senate, is in the same position--only five percent of the state's voters view him favorably, while nine in ten (87%) fail to recognize his name. (Former Auditor General Don Bailey was not an announced candidate when this survey went into the field, so his favorability scores were not measured).

Not only do Ridge and Specter benefit from their personal popularity and the relative anonymity of their challengers, both also benefit from citizens' positive feelings about the state and its economy. Nearly two out of every three (65%) adults thinks Pennsylvania is headed in the right direction. Further, nearly a third (31%) of the state's citizens believe they are better off financially now than they were a year ago, and even more (39%) believe they will be better off financially at this time next year. Election analysts often look at these measures as indicators of how well incumbent officeholders, particularly executives, will fare. Incumbents are in good position when a majority of voters believe the state is headed in the right direction, and when more people say they are better off financially today, than say they are worse off.

This means a comfortable lead for both Ridge and Specter in their respective races. Ridge leads Itkin in a two-way race, 61 percent to 17 percent. In a three-way contest, Ridge leads Itkin and perennial candidate Peg Luksik by large margins (Ridge 56 percent, Itkin 14 percent, and Luksik 8 percent). Arlen Specter bests Bill Lloyd, 54 percent to 22 percent, in their head-to-head matchup.

Citizens Grade Ridge's Performance

In the October Keystone Poll, Tom Ridge's job performance rating was very high. Nearly three in five (57%) voters said he was doing an excellent or good job as governor. In the current Keystone Poll, we asked citizens to rate the Governor's performance fighting crime, creating new jobs, improving public education, representing the average citizen, and reducing taxes. Pennsylvania's voters give Ridge his highest grades for fighting crime and creating new jobs--the most common grade given to the governor in these areas as "B." For all of the other specific areas, the Commonwealth's voters most often rated his performance as "C." ***SURVEY ITEMS AND FREQUENCIES FOLLOW***

All in all, do you think things in Pennsylvania are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?

         4/95  9/95  2/96  7/96  3/98

Right Direction    52%   47%   49%   41%   65%

Wrong Track      32%   36%   36%   41%   24%

Don't Know       17%   17%   15%   18%   11%

We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you and your family are better off, worse off, or about the same financially as you were a year ago?

         4/95   2/96   7/96   3/98

Better Off       26%  21%  21%  31%

Worse Off      21%  21%  22%  16%

Same         52%  57%  56%  52%

Don't Know      1%   1%   1%   1%

Now looking ahead, do you think that a year from now, you and your family will be better off financially than you are now, worse off, or about the same as you are now?

          4/95  2/96   7/96   3/98

Better Off      37%   29%  24%  39%

Worse Off       12%   16%  12%   7%

Same        44%   49%  54%  50%

Don't Know       7%    6%  10%   4%

I'd like to ask you a few questions about some people involved in Pennsylvania politics. Is your opinion of ... favorable, not favorable, undecided, or haven't you heard enough about ... yet to have an opinion?

            Not

         Fav  Fav  Und    DK

    Tom Ridge    59%  21%  14%    6%

    Arlen Specter  53%  27%  15%    5%

    Peg Luksik   11%   4%   6%   79%

    Ivan Itkin    5%   2%   7%   87%

    Bill Lloyd    5%   1%   6%   87%

    Phil Berg   5%   1%   6%   89%

    Richard Orloski 4%   2%   6%   88%

If the 1998 election for Governor were being held today and the candidates were Tom Ridge the Republican and Ivan Itkin the Democrat, who would you vote for?

    61%  Tom Ridge

    17%  Ivan Itkin

    22%  Don't Know

If the 1998 election for Governor were being held today and the candidates were Tom Ridge the Republican, Ivan Itkin the Democrat, and Peg Luksik the Constitutional candidate, who would you vote for?

    56%  Tom Ridge

    14%  Ivan Itkin

     8%  Peg Luksik

    22%  Don't Know

If the 1998 election for Pennsylvania's United State's Senator were being held today and the candidates were Arlen Specter, the Republican, and Bill Lloyd, the Democrat, who would you vote for?

    54%  Arlen Specter

    22%  Bill Lloyd

    23%  Don't Know

Arlen Specter

Is your opinion of ARLEN SPECTER favorable, not favorable, undecided, or haven't you heard enough about Arlen Specter yet to have an opinion?

            Not

         Fav  Fav  Und    DK

       04/92   55%  28%  17%    ---

       10/92   34%  30%  26%   7%

       04/95   32%  31%  23%    14%

       10/97   52%  20%  18%    10%

       03/98   53%  27%  15%   5%

Tom Ridge

Is your opinion of TOM RIDGE favorable, not favorable, undecided, or haven't you heard enough about Tom Ridge yet to have an opinion?

            Not

         Fav  Fav  Und    DK

       10/94   32%  23%  29%    16%

       04/95   45%   6%  26%    22%

       09/95   45%   7%  24%    25%

       04/96   36%  25%  28%    12%

       07/96   35%  26%  27%    13%

       10/97   53%  19%  20%   8%

       03/98   59%  21%  14%   6%

I am going to read you a list of problems and issues that the state government is supposed to take care of. For each item, please tell me how well Governor Ridge has performed in each area, using an A, B, C, D, or F. Using an A for excellent, a B for very good, a C for average, a D for below average, or an F for failing...

             A    B    C   D    F    DK



Fighting crime        14%    33%  30%    8%   6%    8%

Helping to create new jobs    12%    35%  30%    9%   7%    6%

Improving public education     9%    29%  32%   12%  10%    7%

Representing the average citizen   9%    30%  36%   11%    8%   7%

Reducing state taxes       5%    20%  38%   13%  14%   10%

Helping to reduce local property   4%    12%  35%   17%   21%  11%

  taxes

Challengers

I'd like to ask you a few questions about some people involved in Pennsylvania politics. Is your opinion of ... favorable, not favorable, undecided, or haven't you heard enough about ... yet to have an opinion?

            Not

         Fav  Fav  Und    DK

    Peg Luksik

       10/97   4%   5%  13%   77%

       03/98    11%   4%   6%   79%



    Ivan Itkin

       10/97   4%   2%  11%   83%

       03/98   5%   2%   7%   87%

The Keystone Poll is conducted by the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Millersville University for KYW-TV3, Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the Harrisburg Patriot. The telephone survey of 817 Pennsylvanians was conducted February 5 - March 8, 1998, among a random sample of adults living in the state. The sample included 564 registered voters. The sample error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.4%, but is larger for subgroups. The survey data were weighted by age and gender to reflect the known distribution of these variables in the state.

Any use of this survey must indicate that it was conducted at Millersville University.


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