Tom Ridge and Arlen Specter's Personal Popularity: Auspicious Campaign Beginnings
Both incumbent governor Tom Ridge and incumbent U.S. Senator Arlen Specter are on solid ground to defend their respective offices, according to the latest Keystone Poll. More than half of the state's registered voters have a favorable opinion of each candidate, while only one in five voters feels unfavorably towards them. Ridge's position relative to his potential challengers is especially strong: nearly four in five state voters don't recognize the names of Peg Luksik, who ran in 1994 as an independent candidate for governor and earned 13 percent of the vote, or Ivan Itkin, the House Minority Leader and only formally announced Democratic candidate for governor. Another possible Democratic candidate, former Lieutenant Governor Ernie Kline, is better known than either Luksik or Itkin, despite being out of the public eye for some time.
And Job-Related Performance is Also Good
More than half (57%) of the state's voters believe that Ridge is doing an excellent or good job as governor, returning him close to the high point of his Keystone Poll ratings. After a string of early legislative victories, including a reduction in the state's business tax, a special legislative session dealing with crime, and passing his first state budget without major controversy, Ridge's favorable job performance rose above 60 percent. His performance scores suffered after a number of legislative setbacks, most notably the failure of his school choice package, his decision to sign a legislative pay hike, and his effort to reduce health care benefits for the working poor. As expected, more Republicans (68%) than Democrats (44%) believe he is doing an excellent or good job as governor. Regionally, favorable performance ratings for Ridge dip below 50 percent only in Philadelphia (37%). In other parts of the state, the southeast (61%), central (60%), and northeast (67%), Ridge's positive job performance is over 60 percent. These regional variations are an important characteristic of his support. Only among non-whites are his favorable performance ratings below 50 percent.
Arlen Specter's job performance has rebounded from its low point following the Anita Hill testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. A spring 1992 Keystone Poll showed that just over a third (38%) of voters believed he was doing an excellent or good job, while the latest poll shows more than half (53%) feel this way today. Like Ridge, Specter's positive performance ratings are higher among Republicans (65%) than Democrats (45%). Unlike Ridge, Specter's performance scores do not change dramatically among different regions of the state. They do differ sharply by age group. Seven of ten (69%) voters over 55 years of age judge his performance as excellent or good.
With More Voter's Favoring than Opposing the Reelection of Each
Half of the state's registered voters believe that both Ridge (50%) and Specter (49%) deserve re- election. Not surprisingly, more Republicans (62%) than Democrats (37%) believe Ridge deserves reelection. Ridge's reelection support is generally strong throughout the state, with only the traditional Democratic strongholds of Philadelphia and southwestern Pennsylvania failing to provide majority support for him. There are no age, gender, or income differences evident. Whites (52%) are more likely than those of other races (26%) to believe Ridge deserves reelection.
Arlen Specter's support is more demographically distinct than Ridge's. Like Ridge, Specter gains more Republicans (62%) than Democrats (36%) who say he deserves reelection. Specter receives more support from those over 55 years of age (62%) than from people in other age groups. In addition, more men (57%) than women (43%) believe he deserves reelection. Geographically, Specter's strongest support comes from the southeastern and northwestern parts of the state. Comparatively, Specter, the Philadelphian, does better than Ridge in that city. Interestingly, he also scores better in the southwest.
Most Say "No" to Any Ridge Presidential Bid
Pennsylvania voters are less than enthusiastic when asked whether Tom Ridge should run for President of the United States. By more than a three to one margin, they reject any presidential bid by Ridge, 66 percent to 16 percent. In a similar vein, voters don't believe Ridge is qualified at this point to serve as President. These sentiments cut across geographic and demographic groups, although more Republicans (26%) than Democrats (12%) think he is qualified for the presidency, and more Republicans (18%) than Democrats (12%) think he should run.
A July 1995 Keystone Poll quizzed voters about whether Ridge should accept a vice presidential offer from Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole. Ridge did not get the nomination, but 46 percent of the state's voters believed if offered he should accept. But, the addition of Ridge to the Republican ticket did little to improve Bob Dole's chances of carrying the state in the election because as many voters indicated they were more likely to voter for Dole with Ridge on the ticket as were less likely to vote for a Dole-Ridge ticket. ***SURVEY ITEMS AND FREQUENCIES FOLLOW***
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 53% 19% 20% 8% Arlen Specter 52% 20% 18% 10% Ernie Kline 9% 4% 18% 70% Peg Luksik 4% 5% 13% 77% Ivan Itkin 4% 2% 11% 83%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 4/92 55% 28% 17% --- 10/92 34% 30% 26% 7% 4/95 32% 31% 23% 14% 10/97 52% 20% 18% 10%
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 goodjob, only a fair job, or a poor job?
Exc Good Fair Poor DK 10/91 11% 39% 41% 9% --- 4/92 5% 33% 44% 12% 6% 10/97 12% 41% 33% 6% 7%
Do you believe that ARLEN SPECTER has done a good enough job as Senator to deserve re-election, or do you believe it is time for a change?
49% Deserves re-election 40% It's time for a change 11% Don't KnowTom Ridge
Do you believe that TOM RIDGE has done a good enough job as GOVERNOR to deserve RE-ELECTION, or do you believe it is time for a change?
50% Deserves re-election 36% It's time for a change 14% Don't Know
Do you think TOM RIDGE is QUALIFIED to be PRESIDENT of the United States?
19% Yes 65% No 16% Don't Know
Do you think TOM RIDGE should RUN for PRESIDENT of the United States in the year 2000?
16% Yes 66% No 5% Depends on who the other candidates are 14% Don't Know
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% 4/95 45% 6% 26% 22% 9/95 45% 7% 24% 25% 4/96 36% 25% 28% 12% 7/96 35% 26% 27% 13% 10/97 53% 19% 20% 8%
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 4/95 7% 46% 24% 2% 21% 9/95 11% 50% 27% 3% 10% 4/96 4% 40% 38% 12% 7% 6/96 6% 41% 31% 15% 6% 10/97 14% 43% 28% 12% 5%
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 677 Pennsylvanians was conducted October 7 and October 30, 1997, among a random sample of adults living in the state. The sample included 474 registered voters. The sample error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.8%, 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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