Wolf, Casey hold polling edge in reelection campaigns

September 25, 2018

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf (left) and Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner.

Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey hold double-digit leads over Republican challengers Scott Wagner and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta in their re-election campaigns, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday.

Registered voters who participated in the poll favored Wolf over Wagner, 52 percent to 35 percent, with 12 percent undecided 10 weeks from the November election. They favored Casey over Barletta, 47 percent to 34 percent, with 19 percent undecided.

Wolf and Casey, both Democrats, held similar leads in the college’s June poll, when 23 percent were undecided in the governor’s race and 28 percent were undecided in the Senate race.

The poll of 511 registered voters, conducted Aug. 20-26, had a 6.1 percent margin of error.

“It shows that the race is fairly well stable,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs. “There’s very little change in the major dimensions of the electorate this year and it seems fairly locked in place. I’m not predicting it will stay that way, but for the moment it seems locked in place.”

The results follow trends for post-presidential elections, when voters tend to come out in support of the party that lost the last major race, Madonna said.

Wagner spokesman Andrew Romeo has criticized the poll on the grounds that, in its sample of voters, the Democratic Party is better-represented than it has been in past presidential and congressional elections in the state. Those surveyed included 243 Democrats, 200 Republicans and 68 independents, mirroring statewide voter registration percentages.

“Dr. Madonna’s survey is useless given that he sampled 8 percent more Democrats than Republicans,” Romeo said in an emailed statement. “Such a disparity has never occurred during a modern gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania and did not even occur during President Obama’s historic victory in 2008.”

Romeo also said narrowing participants to likely voters, or ones who turned out for recent elections, would be a better way to gauge the race. About 43 percent of voters in the F&M poll voted in the past three general elections.

Madonna said the poll’s results and methods are in line with other recent independent polls, such as those from NBC/Marist and Suffolk University .

Wolf campaign spokeswoman Beth Melena didn’t comment on the poll.

About 46 percent of the poll’s respondents said Wolf is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as governor, while 41 percent had a favorable opinion of the job Casey has done. About 38 percent said President Trump is doing an “excellent” or “good” job.

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