People Paper polls Pa. players on pols

DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO Rob McCord: Led this poll, but not doing so great in real ones.
DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO Rob McCord: Led this poll, but not doing so great in real ones.
Posted: December 17, 2013

NEW YORK - I now know that even those in the know don't know.

I refer to Pa.'s political 1-percenters, attendees of the annual Pennsylvania Society weekend in Manhattan, and the political question of the day, month and early 2014: Who wins the Democratic primary for governor?

There are eight announced candidates. The primary's in May. And theories on who prevails and why were plentiful during this year's Thursday-through-Sunday cluster of self-celebration by the state's top political players.

PoliticsPA.com named 66 events, almost all by invitation, but that doesn't include double-top-secret soirees in the secured upper reaches of penthouse suites held for only the mucketiest of muckety-mucks.

The weekend was glut and glitz for and by those pulling the levers that drive state politics.

My humble contribution was a poll: the People Paper Poll of Important Political People or Those Who Think They Are.

I quizzed 50 big shots, including officeholders, public officials, lobbyists, donors and insiders who pay closest attention to political doings.

I excluded candidates, journalists and anyone directly involved in campaigns.

I pushed hard, accepting "don't know" only from those confounded beyond consolation.

As such, I recorded only 8 "don't know's": 16 percent.

The results?

Rob McCord, 14 votes: 28 percent.

Allyson Schwartz, 13 votes: 26 percent.

Tom Wolf, 9 votes: 18 percent.

Katie McGinty, 3 votes: 6 percent.

Kathleen Kane, 3 votes: 6 percent.

No second-tier candidate - Ed Pawlowski, John Hanger, Max Myers, Jo Ellen Litz - drew a mention.

Neither did Jack Wagner nor Centre County state Rep. Scott Conklin, both said to still be considering.

Remember, the question was who wins, not whom you like, not who does best against Gov. Corbett next fall. Who wins?

I should mention that this is a poll of many living at or near the top of the money tree who know, have dealt with and likely have given to McCord and Schwartz and who are less likely to have as much exposure to other candidates.

So I figure that my poll has a substantial margin of error.

The real "don't know," for example, is much higher.

And McGinty's been polling better in real polls, while McCord has not.

My theory is that McCord tends to be polled as "State Treasurer Rob McCord" and people think of the nerdy guy who was treasurer of their high school Key Club.

This is a theory, I acknowledge, with likely the same size error margin as my poll.

Also, many polled insisted on qualifiers and "Oh, it all depends."

Does Allyson play statewide? Can Katie raise enough money? Will Wolf really spend his money? Do the two top women cancel each other? Can McCord avoid an ego-explosion?

Still, as I see it, everybody wins here.

McCord and Schwartz demonstrate they've convinced key players that they are horses to ride.

Wolf and McGinty are positioned to be the fresh-faced, catch-fire upset entry. And second-tier runners can offer themselves as not the candidate of the Waldorf Astoria crowd but a candidate of the people.

(An aside: Earlier this year, I labeled Allentown Mayor Pawlowski "The Big Pawlowski." He now tells me that he wants to do a statewide bus tour of bowling alleys.)

And the statewide newcomer/instant star Kane?

She got votes despite no indication of a candidacy and managed to be a bit of a black hole for buzz about actual candidates, thanks to my colleague Chris Brennan reporting Friday that she's seriously considering a 2016 Senate run.

I suggested to Kane, who's also raising money this cycle, that fellow Democrats running this cycle must be delighted with the attention she gets.

She smiled: "I'm sure they are."

Finally, my polling question was answered perhaps most accurately, if predictably, by a former Philly mayor and former governor who shall remain nameless: "Who the f--- knows?"


Email: baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer

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