Poll: Tom Wolf has double-digit lead

Posted: May 15, 2014

IT MAY be all over but the voting in the Democratic primary election for governor on Tuesday.

York businessman Tom Wolf holds what looks to be an insurmountable lead over his three primary foes, according to a Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College poll being released today.

The poll of registered Democratic voters found 33 that percent support Wolf, 14 percent support U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, 9 percent support state Treasurer Rob McCord and 5 percent support former state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty. An additional 39 percent are undecided.

Can anyone catch Wolf?

"It would be extraordinarily difficult and historic," pollster G. Terry Madonna said. "This would require a collapse of support, the likes of which we have not seen."

The closest Madonna could find was when Ed Rendell was down 1 percent to Bob Casey Jr. before the 2002 Democratic primary for governor and then built a 10-point lead in a month. Rendell became governor. Casey later became a U.S. senator.

Negative campaign commercials launched late in the game by Schwartz and McCord have done little to help their chances and may have done more harm than good for McCord's reputation.

Madonna noted that McCord, speaking in Monday's final debate, acknowledged that the racial issue he raised about Wolf was not popular.

McCord has criticized what he calls Wolf's "failure of leadership" for serving in 2001 as chairman of the York mayor's re-election campaign. The mayor won the primary but was then charged with murder in the 1969 death of a black woman during a race riot.

Wolf said he was "instrumental" in getting the mayor, who was later acquitted, to drop out of the race after being charged.

Madonna said McCord's "unfavorable" percentage increased more than any other candidate's since the last poll in March.

Schwartz has had little luck attacking Wolf's business record or painting him as untested.

She has loaded her campaign with references to gender and her 24 years in the state General Assembly and U.S. House, representing districts in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Still, Wolf leads Schwartz 27 percent to 15 percent among women polled and 27 percent to 24 percent among voters in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Madonna said the primary has hinged on campaign commercials. Wolf launched his well before the other candidates - all were little-known statewide before then - and successfully captured the electorate's attention.

Eight out of 10 voters in the poll said they have seen a campaign commercial and nine out of 10 in that group have seen one of Wolf's.

By contrast, just 6 percent have watched a candidate debate.

The poll makes clear the Democratic nominee will have support on the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare. Three out of four Democrats oppose repealing the law. Sixty-nine percent said the law will make the country's health-care system much better or somewhat better while 18 percent said it will make it somewhat or much worse.

Corbett, as state attorney general, signed on to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected that argument.

Corbett, as governor, has been highly critical of the law.


On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout.com

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