Early data forecasts challenges for incumbent in upcoming gubernatorial election

By Wyatt Behringer, Contributing Writer ||

This November, Penn. will hold an election to determine the next governor of the state. Voters will choose between re-electing Tom Corbett (R), incumbent governor, or Tom Wolf (D), businessman and former state revenue secretary.

Wolf won the Democratic Primary last May with 58 percent of the vote and has continued to run a highly successful campaign, according to the article on politico.com, “2014 primary election results: Self-funder Tom Wolf trounces Pennsylvania governor field.”

Wolf funded his primary campaign out of his own pocket, putting $10 million into ads that secured his win. Wolf beat Allyson Schwartz, former Penn. congresswoman; Katie McGinty, former state environmental protection secretary; and Robert McCord, state treasurer. Wolf used his inexperience in politics to his advantage and rallied a great deal of support across the state.

Data indicates that Corbett will face challenges to secure his office as the election draws closer. According to the latest F&M Poll, conducted in August, Wolf leads Corbett by 25 percentage points; Wolf stands firm with 49 percent support and Corbett has 24 percent, with 25 percent of voters still undecided.

It is generally rare in politics for an incumbent governor to not be re-elected. Incumbents have the distinct advantage of already holding the position, which gives them specific job experience and, more importantly, name recognition among their constituents.

“Corbett needs a major ‘game change’ moment,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Opinion and the F&M Poll. “After more than 3.8 years of his incumbency, the judgments of voters have been largely formed about his tenure in office.”

Madonna went on to explain that it is practically unheard of for a candidate to come back and win after such low-polling data in August.

“Never say never, but, if Corbett were to win, he would make modern [state] history— no candidate has come from a deficit like the one he faces with fewer than 50 days left until election day and won,” he said.

Some of the vital issues in the election include jobs, education, and taxes. Corbett took heat from both the public and Penn. legislatures due to his cuts to the state’s education budget. Wolf has focused ads and many of his platforms on education reform.

Cameron Koob ’16, president of F&M’s College Democrats, believes that Wolf’s impressive lead may show a major shift in Pennsylvania politics.

“We have a chance to give families and young professionals a level playing field by investing in our economy and public education,” Koob said. “Tom Wolf’s instrumental candidacy helps other Democrats down the ballot as well because it highlights the effective solutions they have which problems people in every community face.”

Alison Cheng ’15, president of F&M’s College Republicans, encouraged students to educate themselves on both candidates and the issues and cast their vote in November; however, she went on to say the College Republicans do not officially endorse Corbett.

Although Republicans expect to take back the U.S. Senate in November’s midterm elections, Penn. itself seems to lean towards the Democrats, with most polls indicating Wolf will be elected the next governor.

 

First-year Wyatt Behringer is a contributing writer. His email is wbehring@fandm.edu.

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