%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Edward G. Rendell has an 18-point lead over Republican Mike Fisher among likely voters in next month’s election, according to a poll released Monday.
Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia, was the choice of 49 percent of the 565 registered voters surveyed by West Chester University on behalf of WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. Fisher, the state attorney general, was favored by 31 percent, with 20 percent of voters undecided, the poll said.
The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Other recent polls have given Rendell leads of 14 or 15 percentage points over Fisher.
Fisher campaign spokesman Kevin Harley dismissed the results, saying the campaign’s own polling shows Rendell only nine points ahead.
``As voters continue to hear Mike Fisher’s message of lower taxes and educational opportunities, he will win this race,″ Harley said.
Rendell spokesman Dan Fee said the results are ``further proof that voters are responding to Ed’s positive message that focused on revitalizing our economy and improving our education system.″
According to the poll, voters said Rendell would do a better job handling education and reducing property taxes, and has better plans for gun control, health care and creating jobs.
Voters cited taxes as the single most important issue that would determine their choice in the election.
The telephone survey was conducted randomly between Wednesday and Sunday by the university’s Center for Social and Economic Research.