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HomeNewsElectionsGovernor Tom Corbett Most Vulnerable GOP Incumbent This November

Governor Tom Corbett Most Vulnerable GOP Incumbent This November

governor tom corbett vs tom wolf
governor tom corbett vs tom wolf

Incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett from Pennsylvania faces Democrat Tom Wolf in November. (Photo: Philly.com)

Incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett will face Democrat challenger Tom Wolf in November in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election. Most pundits have agreed it wouldn’t be easy for Gov. Corbett to secure re-election, but PPD now sees Corbett as the single-most vulnerable Republican incumbent up for reelection this cycle.

After giving several weeks latitude to the incumbent to turn things around, our model strongly suggests this race now strongly favors the Democrat, Tom Wolf, though it is truly borderline between ratings. We have seen two other Republican incumbents who initially appeared to be just as vulnerable as Corbett improve their standing in the polls and our model. Gov. Paul LePage in Maine has not only held competitive numbers, but has a better than average chance of winning a plurality in his three-way race. Gov. Rick Scott in Florida, who once appeared almost as vulnerable as Corbett, is actually slightly favored in our model. Early ad buys and typical blunders from Crist turned the fundamentals of that race completely around.

Gov. Corbett, however, has been unsuccessful at pulling off similar improvements, though it doesn’t even appear that he is trying.

Pennsylvania’s political trends show there is a historical likelihood this race will tighten, or perhaps even flip back the other way. However, it appears that the Penn State debacle may have not yet claimed its last victim. Corbett has been severely damaged in by the scandal that rocked the Keystone State, and his connection in the minds of the public is strongly linked to his time as attorney general.

The Pennsylvania governor’s race is a perfect example of how “All politics is local” on the gubernatorial level. Pennsylvania, according to two significant pieces of data, is actually moving slightly in the Republican Party’s direction. In Gallup’s party ID by state annual survey, less people identified with the Democratic Party than the previously year, while more identified with the Republican Party from the same period. The electorate, or who will actually vote in 2014, will also likely favor Republican candidates more so than in 2010. The PVI, or Partisan Voting Index, clocked in at D+2 in 2010, but will by all accounts tick to the right modesty to D+1.

The Republican Party, put frankly, made a colossal mistake by not pressuring Corbett to step aside. Sources in the RGA, the Republican Governors Association, told PPD that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was asked to do just that to his neighboring fellow-governor. But after the complete media-backed assassination, known as “BridgeGate,” the Republican establishment eased up on asking Christie to pressure Corbett, because they felt the New Jersey governor no longer had the clout needed to do so.

While the media focuses on races where the insurgent versus establishment narrative is playing out elsewhere this cycle, notice there was no challenge to Corbett from a Tea Party rival, either. Unfortunately for Republicans, who most pundits would agree were bound to lose some governorships this cycle, are now more likely than ever to lose the Pennsylvania governor’s mansion.

Again, a comeback is certainly not out of the question, but the incumbent has little choice but to make this a negative, nasty campaign. Still, we see this race is clearly “Likely Democrat” on our 2014 Governor’s Map Predictions model, and that would be the case even if the same (though fraudulent) 125 percent turnout rate Obama enjoyed in the Philadelphia precincts, is not duplicated in November.

Poll Date Sample MoE Wolf (D) Corbett (R) Spread
PPD Average 5/27 – 6/29 51.5 29.8 Wolf +21.7
Franklin & Marshall 6/23 – 6/29 502 RV 4.4 47 25 Wolf +22
Quinnipiac 5/29 – 6/2 1308 RV 2.7 53 33 Wolf +20
PPP (D) 5/30 – 6/1 835 RV 3.4 55 30 Wolf +25
Rasmussen Reports 5/27 – 5/28 750 LV 4.0 51 31 Wolf +20
Quinnipiac 2/19 – 2/24 1405 RV 2.6 52 33 Wolf +19
Quinnipiac 12/11 – 12/16 RV 44 37 Wolf +7
PPP (D) 11/22 – 11/25 693 RV 3.7 44 32 Wolf +12
Quinnipiac 3/6 – 3/11 RV 39 39 Tie
PPP (D) 3/8 – 3/10 504 RV 4.4 42 33 Wolf +9
PPP (D) 1/4 – 1/6 675 RV 3.8 29 41 Corbett +12

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

Latest comment

  • Speaking of Penn State, Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s report on then Attorney General Tom Corbett’s investigation of Jerry Sandusky’s child-predator predilections was short on indictments but long on the now Governor Corbett’s reprehensible conduct.

    In March of 2010, prosecutor Jonelle Eshbach repeatedly sought permission to file charges against Sandusky with the verified and vetted evidence of one victim. She was ignored. Attorney General Corbett’s reason was that one child was not enough to ensure a conviction.

    Does this mean that every child predator gets one victim free? Certainly not. The price is $641,481.21. That was the amount donated to fuel and finance Tom Corbett’s political ambitions since 2003 by Jerry Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation, past and present board members, their businesses and families.

    The investigation did not move forward until after Mr. Corbett was elected governor. Apropos of nothing, now Governor Corbett personally approved a $3 million grant for the Second Mile Foundation in July, 2011.

    In June 2014, the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University noted that Pennsylvania is
    the fifth most corrupt state in the nation. The joint study was based on the dastardly behavior and subsequent convictions of public officials. Let us hope Governor Corbett retires to his
    near-beach condo in North Carolina, come November. Just a bit of that stigma will leave with him.

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