Pennsylvanians Express Pessimism About Economy

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Pennsylvanians continue to express pessimism about the economy, while a sizeable proportion are experiencing significant economic hardship, according to the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

Three in five Pennsylvanians say the state is on the wrong track, while more than a third (36 percent) say they are financially worse off this year than last. Just one third (31 percent) expect their personal finances to be better off a year from now.

Meanwhile, nearly three in five (57 percent) believe the current recession will not end for several more years. A majority (54 percent) says they are trying to save more compared to one year ago.

Additionally, only one in eight (13 percent) respondents feel they have personally benefited from the national recovery efforts.

In other findings:

  • Half (49 percent) of state residents have experienced at least one of the 11 hardships named in the survey. The most common economic hardships include pay reductions (22 percent), unemployment (21 percent) and the inability to afford needed medical care (18 percent).
  • A large number of registered Pennsylvanians remain undecided about the upcoming senatorial elections. Arlen Specter leads Joe Sestak 30 percent to 18 percent among Democrats, with about half (47 percent) undecided. In a general election matchup, Specter has a small lead over Republican candidate Pat Toomey, 33 percent to 31 percent, with nearly a third (30 percent) undecided. Toomey has a slight advantage over Sestak in a general election matchup, 28 percent to 20 percent, but half (48 percent) are undecided. Both Toomey and Sestak continue to have low name recognition. Many registered Pennsylvanians (64 percent and 77 percent, respectively) say they don't know enough about either to have an opinion.
  • Similarly, Pennsylvania Democrats are largely (66 percent) undecided about the Democratic primary race for governor. Tom Corbett is currently favored over Jim Gerlach (30 percent to 8 percent) among Republicans for their gubernatorial nomination, but more than half (57 percent) remain undecided about their preference.

The interviews were conducted Oct. 20-25 at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College under the direction of the poll's director, G. Terry Madonna, Head Methodologist Berwood Yost and Project Manager Jennifer Harding. The data represent the responses of 616 adult residents of Pennsylvania, including 529 registered voters.

The sample error for the full survey group is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points, while the sample error for registered voters is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

For complete results, go to www.fandm.edu/fandmpoll

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