Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Center for Opinion Research

Keystone Poll (July 8-28, 1998)

Pennsylvania Statewide Poll: Disappearing Democrats

The Beat Goes On: Republican Incumbents Maintain Their Advantages

The latest Pennsylvania Keystone Poll, conducted from July 8 thru July 28, finds that the public mood has changed little since March. In the March Keystone Poll, both incumbent Governor Tom Ridge and incumbent U.S. Senator Arlen Specter were in good shape to retain their respective offices. Nothing since then has changed the political dynamic within the state. Their high political standing can be attributed to their personal popularity, weak challengers, and the optimism of Pennsylvanians regarding the direction of the state and their own personal finances. The only bright spot for state Democrats can be seen in the results of a generic ballot test that asked voters about the upcoming state House races; voters are evenly split between Democrat and Republican candidates.

Most voters have a favorable opinion of Tom Ridge (62%) and Arlen Specter (57%). At the same time, only eight percent of the state's voters have a favorable opinion of Ivan Itkin, Tom Ridge's Democratic challenger, and fewer still, five percent, have a favorable opinion of Arlen Specter's Democratic challenger, Bill Lloyd. In fact, most voters have never heard of either Itkin (79%) or Lloyd (88%). Constitutional Party candidate Peg Luksik shares a similar problem-- more than three in four (76%) voters have not heard of her.

Voters believe that Ridge and Specter have done well in their jobs. More than half (55%) of the respondents think that Arlen Specter is doing an excellent or good job as U.S. Senator. Two- thirds (66%) rate Ridge's performance as excellent or good.

State residents continue to feel confident about the condition of the state as well as their own personal finances. Three in five (60%) state residents believe the state is generally headed in the right direction, and four in five say they are better off (31%) or the same financially (52%) as they were a year ago. Nearly nine in ten expect their finances will improve (41%) or be the same (45%) a year from now.

Since these trends are consistent with the findings of the March Keystone Poll, it is not surprising that Ridge and Specter continue to have substantial margins over their opponents. Ridge leads Itkin, 60% to 14%, with 7% preferring Peg Luksik. Ridge is ahead in every region of the state, including Allegheny and Philadelphia counties. Ridge also tops Itkin among Democratic voters, 45% to 28%.

Arlen Specter is comfortably ahead of Bill Lloyd statewide, 56% to 26%, with Lloyd leading Specter in Philadelphia, 41% to 39%. Specter and Lloyd share an equal percentage of registered Democrats, each with 42%. Specter's lead over Lloyd among men is substantial, 65% to 21%, while his margin among self-identified conservative voters is 72% to 13%. ***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 7/98
Right Direction    52%  47%  49%  41%  65%  60%
Wrong Track      32%  36%  36%  41%  24%  26%
Don't Know       17%  17%  15%  18%  11%  14%

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 7/98
Better Off    26%  21%  21%  31%  31%
Worse Off     21%  21%  22%  16%  16%
Same      52%  57%  56%  52%  52%
Don't Know     1%   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 7/98
Better Off    37%  29%  24%  39%  41%
Worse Off     12%  16%  12%  7%   9%
Same      44%  49%  54%  50%  45%
Don't Know     7%   6%  10%  4%   5%

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      62%  19%  14%    6%
    Arlen Specter      57%  19%   15%   9%
    Peg Luksik       11%   4%    8%  76%
    Ivan Itkin       8%    6%    7%  79%
    Bill Lloyd       5%    2%    5%  88%

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?

          3/98 7/98
    Tom Ridge    56%  60%
    Ivan Itkin   14%  14%
    Peg Luksik    8%   7%
    Don't Know   22%  19%

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?

          3/98 7/98
    Arlen Specter  54%   56%
    Bill Lloyd   22%   26%
    Don't Know   23%   18%

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%
       07/98    57%   19%   15%   9%

How would you rate the way ARLEN SPECTER is handling his job as United States Senator? Would you say he is doing an excellent job, a good job, only a fair job, or a poor job?

         Exc   Good   Fair  Poor   DK
       10/91    11%  39%   41%   9%   ---
       04/92   5%  33%   44%  12%    6%
       10/97    12%  41%   33%   6%    7%
       07/98    10%  44%   31%   9%    6%

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%
       07/98   62%  19%  14%    6%

How would you rate the way Tom Ridge is handling his job as Governor? Would you say he is doing an excellent job, a good job, only a fair job, or a poor job?

         Exc   Good   Fair  Poor   DK
       04/95   7%   46%   24%   2%   21%
       09/95    11%   50%   27%   3%   10%
       04/96   4%   40%   38%  12%    7%
       06/96   6%   41%   31%  15%    6%
       10/97    14%   43%   28%  12%    5%
       07/98    12%   54%   24%   7%    4%

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%
       07/98   11%   4%    8%  76%
    Ivan Itkin
       10/97    4%   2%   11%  83%
       03/98    5%   2%    7%  87%
       07/98    8%   6%    7%  79%
    Bill Lloyd
       03/98    5%   1%    6%  87%
       07/98    5%   2%    5%  88%

Generic Ballot, State House

If the 1998 elections for Pennsylvania's state House of Representatives were being held today, would you vote for the Democratic party's candidate, the Republican party's candidate, or does it depend on who the candidate is for each party?

28%   Democrat
28%   Republican
38%   Depends on candidate
6%    Don't Know

A cautionary note: It is worth noting that the national generic ballot test normally overstates Democratic support in United States House races--and this same tendency may well exist in Pennsylvania. State House districts are decided by the votes cast within each district, making it possible for one party to receive more aggregate total votes, yet not necessarily increase the total number of seats held by that party in the state legislature. That is, counting the aggregate vote smooths over the electoral margins that appear in each district.



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 602 Pennsylvanians was conducted July 8 - July 28, 1998, among a random sample of adults living in the state. The sample included 451 registered voters. The sample error for the total sample is plus or minus 4.0%, but is larger for subgroups. Detailed information about survey methodology is available upon request.

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


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