Top Teams - Poll: Pennsylvanians ain't happy

Posted: September 03, 2009

Pennsylvanians are pessimistic about the state, angry at Gov. Rendell and the Legislature, and skeptical of congressional health-care proposals, according to the latest Daily News Franklin & Marshall poll.

"There's brewing discontent," said poll director Terry Madonna. "You've got people worried about their jobs, a mind-boggling federal deficit, a debate about health care and a terrible budget impasse here. So it affects both state and federal officials."

The poll showed Pennsylvanians have followed the health-care-reform debate fairly closely, and many are skeptical of what they hear.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said people speaking out against health-care reform at town-hall meetings represent their views, while 39 percent said they did not.

And 51 percent said they strongly or somewhat oppose health-care proposals discussed in Congress, while only 34 percent strongly or somewhat favor them.

Madonna said concern over health care is likely responsible for the poll's curious results concerning President Obama: He still gets high favorability ratings (55 percent favorable, 37 percent unfavorable), but his job approval numbers have fallen sharply since June.

Forty-seven percent say he's doing a good or fair job. Fifty-three percent give him a fair or poor rating.

"That happens. It happened with Reagan, too," Madonna said. "People still like Obama. They find him very appealing. But they seem to have some problems with his agenda, and that's likely related to health care."

Those polled seem deeply pessimistic about Pennsylvania and its leaders.

Fifty-nine percent said things in Pennsylvania are headed on the wrong track, the darkest assessment of the state's prospects since Madonna has been polling the question 14 years ago.

And Rendell's popularity is at its lowest point since becoming governor. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they had an unfavorable opinion of Rendell, with only 32 percent regarding him favorably.

If it's any comfort to Rendell, voters are even angrier at the Legislature. Only 18 percent said lawmakers were doing a good job, while 78 percent said they were doing a fair or poor job.

And 54 percent blamed the Legislature for the state budget impasse, compared with 31 percent who blamed Rendell.

Curiously, though, when asked whom they trusted more to make decisions about the state budget, voters chose the Legislature over Rendell by a 48 to 36 percent ratio.

"I think that's about taxes," Madonna said. "Rendell is associated with asking for higher taxes, and they trust the Legislature more not to raise taxes. But they're disappointed with their performance so far."

The poll shows that U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter's popularity has taken a dive since he announced his switch from the Republican to the Democratic party in April.

In March, 52 percent said Specter was doing a good or excellent job, while 37 percent rated his performance as fair or poor.

Now only 35 percent see him as doing a good or excellent job, while 57 percent rate his performance as fair or poor.

"Some Republicans felt betrayed when he switched, some Democrats aren't sure they trust him as a real Democrat, and some independents saw it as a purely political move," Madonna said. "It cost him."

You can see the entire poll at

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