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F&M Poll: Gov. Corbett Struggles For Voter Support

One in five registered voters in Pennsylvania approve of the job Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is doing, and 61 percent believe the state is "off on the wrong track," according to the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

The poll, conducted of registered voters between Oct. 22 and Oct. 27 at the Center for Opinion Research at F&M, showed only one in five voters (20 percent) believe Corbett deserves re-election next year, unchanged from F&M's Aug. 21-26 poll.

"He's in worst shape than any incumbent governor since Milton Shapp, when governors could start running for re-election," said the poll's director, G. Terry Madonna. Shapp was governor of Pennsylvania from 1971 to 1979.

The poll showed that as many registered Republicans believe the governor should step aside so another Republican can represent the party in the 2014 election (44 percent) as believe he should run again (42 percent).

  • The Pennsylvania state flag

Moreover, while few Democrats (7 percent) or independent voters (19 percent) believe Corbett deserves to be re-elected, less than half (37 percent) of Republicans do, according to the poll. Only one in three Republicans rated his performance as either "good" or "excellent."

When asked which issue the state most needed to address, 22 percent of those polled said unemployment and the economy, and 21 percent said schools and school funding.

Lack of transportation funding to fix the state's highways and bridges, funding cuts in education -- despite increases made this year -- and an inability to show a real political victory are driving Corbett's numbers down, Madonna said.

"While at the same time the poll shows Corbett is in real trouble, there are some rays of hope," Madonna said. "It shows his Medicare plan is popular."

Nearly two in three voters (64 percent) favor upping the number of state residents eligible for the state's Medicaid program, and 72 percent favor Corbett's plan to expand the program to private insurance companies and impose work requirements.

Pennsylvania reflects national politics when it comes to what state voters say about President Barack Obama, congressional Republicans, federal entitlement programs and the Affordable Care Act, Madonna said.

According to the poll, 39 percent of Pennsylvania voters believe Obama is doing an "excellent" or "good" job, which is higher than his August rating of 34 percent. Madonna said the government shutdown appears to have helped the president's job approval ratings in the state, but does not seem to have made a significant difference for the other officials tested.

More Pennsylvania registered voters believe the new Affordable Care Act, an overhaul of the nation's health care system to ensure all Americans are insured, should be kept (50 percent) than repealed (40 percent). Nearly half (47 percent) believe the act will improve health care, while 41 percent believe it won't, according to the poll.

The full Franklin & Marshall College Poll results can be found here.

The poll is based on interviews with 628 Pennsylvania voters. The sample error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College under the direction of Madonna, Head Methodologist Berwood Yost, and Project Manager Jacqueline Redman. The data included in this release represent the responses of 313 Democrats, 232 Republicans, and 83 registered as Independent/Other. 

The 23-year-old Franklin & Marshall College Poll is produced in conjunction with the Philadelphia Daily News, WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, WPVI-TV6/ABC Philadelphia, Times-Shamrock Newspapers, Harrisburg Patriot-News/Penn Live, Lancaster Newspapers and the Reading Eagle.