Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Center for Opinion Research

Pennsylvania's 1995 Statewide Judicial Process

Prepared by:
Dr. G Terry Madonna, Director
Center for Politics and Public Affairs

Berwood A. Yost, Director
Center for Opinion Research
Head Methodologist

Pennsylvania's 1995 Statewide Judicial Races

Pennsylvania's 1995 statewide judicial races are the equivalent of a political blind date. Voters don't know anything about their date and they are not too excited about it.

Referring to the 1995 court campaigns as horse races overstates their importance to most state voters. In each contest, Commonwealth Court, Superior Court, and Pennsylvania Supreme Court, half or more of the state's voters don't know for whom they will vote. In fact, only one in ten (11%) registered Pennsylvania voters knows anything at all about the candidates running for these offices.

Candidate support is primarily party based, but the undecided vote is so large that it makes other demographic associations irrelevant. From our perspective, these races will be decided by regional and party turnout, as voters take their voting cues from the candidates' party affiliations and areas of residence. Little else is relevant in these contests. Note: Each of these questions was asked only of registered voters (n=365)

If the 1995 election for Pennsylvania Supreme Court were being held today, for which two candidates would you vote?

15%  1.   Sandra Schultz Newman, a Republican from Montgomery County,
 8%  2.   Michael Barrasse, a Republican from Lackawanna County,
12%  3.   Russell Nigro, a Democrat from Philadelphia, 
11%  4.   John Musmanno, a Democrat from Allegheny County,
 5%  5.   or aren't you planning to vote?
49%  6.   Don't Know

If the 1995 election for Pennsylvania Superior Court were being held today, would you vote for:

19%  1.   Michael Eakin, the Republican from Cumberland County
16%  2.   Jon Pushinsky, the Democrat from Allegheny County
 9%  3.   or aren't you planning to vote?
55%  4.   Don't know

If the 1995 election for Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court were being held today, would you vote for:

15%  1.   Rober Graci, the Republican from Cumberland County
22%  2.   James Flaherty, the Democrat from Allegheny County
 9%  3.   or aren't you planning to vote?
54%  4.   Don't Know

How much would you say you know about the candidates who are running for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Pennsylvania Superior Court and Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court,

 1%  1.   A lot
10%  2.   a fair amount
36%  3.   a little, 
48%  4.   or nothing at all?
 6%  5.   Don't know

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 was conducted September 28-30, 1996, among a random sample of adult Pennsylvanians. A total of 626 registered voters in Pennsylvania were interviewed (265 R; 310 D; 39 I and others). The sample error for the sample of voters is plus or minus 3.9%, but is larger for subgroups. The survey was weighted to reflect the known distribution of registered voters in the state.

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