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Corbett Badly Trails Democrats in New Poll

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett listens during a meeting of the Penn State University Board of Trustees in State College, Pa., Friday, Nov. 11, 2011.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

photo of Kevin Brennan
April 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett faces long odds in his reelection bid, and it might not matter which Democrat emerges as his opponent. A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday shows the Republican trailing all three of the Democrats tested against him by at least nine points, and the Keystone State's two best-known Dems each post leads over Corbett in the teens.

"Right now, voters are doing their ABCs -- Anyone But Corbett," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Former Rep. Joe Sestak, the 2010 Senate nominee who appears to be considering a run for governor, fares best against Corbett, leading him by 14 points, 48 percent to 34 percent. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who launched her campaign earlier this month, outpaces the governor by 13 points, 47 percent to 34 percent. And Treasurer Rob McCord is ahead by nine points, 44 percent to 35 percent.

Asked if Corbett deserves to be reelected, only 32 percent of registered voters said yes, while 50 percent, including 25 percent of Republican voters, said he doesn't deserve a second term. That large chunk of Republican voters who oppose another term could help encourage another Republican to challenge the governor in a primary; Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor has flirted publicly with the race for months.  The governor's approval ratings remain dangerously low: Only 38 percent of voters approve of the way he is handling his job, compared to 47 percent who disapprove.

Corbett's near-unprecedented unpopularity has attracted a large number of declared and potential Democratic candidates, although these hopefuls remain mostly unknown, even among Democratic voters. In a hypothetical seven-candidate primary, Schwartz and Sestak, the two Democrats with the highest profiles, are tied at 15 percent. None of the other Democrats, including McCord and wealthy businessman Tom Wolf, received more than 3 percent. A whopping 59 percent of Democrats are undecided on a preferred primary candidate.

The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,235 registered voters was conducted April 19-24 and carries a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.8 percentage points. The margin of error for the subsample of 547 Democrats is 4.2 percentage points.

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